It’s that time of year again. Every year, the course selection packets come out and we get to fill in little boxes that will determine another year’s worth of stress, pressure, and success.
Just like last year, I’m surprised that I’m barely halfway done with junior year but I have to make decisions about senior year. Is time flying by that fast? Am I on the threshold of the my last year in high school, the last year I spend before I am universally recognized as an adult? Where’d all that time go?
So yes, course selection has a lot of weight attached to it that has nothing to do with the actual classes. It signifies that change is inevitable, and I can’t slow it down or avoid it. Even if I want more time to decide, more time to spend in the now, I have to make big decisions about tomorrow, and they have a deadline.
It’s quite a pill to swallow.
Every year, these decisions become more important and less easy. Freshmen year, we got to choose one or two electives and what language we wanted to study. After that, the other boxes were kindly filled in for us, and oh, did we groan. “Why can’t they let me take this instead of PE? I don’t like biology, I want physics freshmen year!” Now, we have the choice between biology, chemistry, physiology, environmental science, and physics, all in different levels of difficulty, and we groan even louder about having too much choice. “I hate making decisions. Ugh, this would be so much easier if they hadn’t announced AP Physics!” Yes, we are very hard to please. Unlike sophomore year, we now have three options of literature. Unlike junior year, we can say no sciences (we could have last year, but the majority students tend to be conformists to the trodden academic path) and world languages. We now have the ‘luxury’ of truly designing our course load for next year.
That’s the dichotomy of choice; the more choices you have, the more freedom you have to build a course to your liking. However, the more freedom you have, the harder it is to be satisfied with the choices you make. When we could only take biology, we didn’t care about science. Now, when we have a total of eight science classes to choose from, it’s a lot harder to make the ‘right’ choice. Questions like, “What do I want to be when I grow up? How selective of a college am I applying to?” suddenly get bolded, underscored, and capitalized. If they didn’t matter last year, they sure do now.
In the end, however, these papers are due on Friday, and the clock ticks by peacefully in the background. No one’s going to screw up their senior year with their choices. When we hand in these forms, our futures spelled out in ink, and with our signatures to boot, like a legal document of how we will spend the next year, we get rid of the burden of choice. We’re done after that. Then, the only thing we have to do is make the best of our decisions.
We’re smart kids, we know ourselves pretty well. Most likely, we’re going to have a lot of fun next year. It’s only choosing how we’ll have fun that’s hard.