Freshman year of highschool is always a huge adjustment. From having to learn a new school, to an increase of extracurricular activities, to meeting many new peers, finding the perfect balance in between academics and other aspects of your life is always tricky. As being an incoming sophomore, in addition to talking to several peers, I have some helpful advice that can help you decide on how many honors classes you should take.
Maintain a balance between academics and other aspects of your life – Before deciding on how many honors classes you should take, ask yourself how busy you will be with other non-academic things. Honors classes typically require much more studying, in addition to longer and harder homework. It is important to think about your life outside of academics, before deciding on how many honors classes you want to take. Is there a sport that takes up hours of your time? Are you part of a club that requires tons of outside work? How much free time do you currently have? In addition to asking yourself these things, make sure not to overlook your social life. If you often hang out with your friends, make sure to factor in that time.
Ask yourself how willing you are to take on a challenge – If you are typically a lazy person that likes taking short cuts, honors classes will be a struggle for you. With honors classes, you really have to stay organized and dedicated. You will have to learn to advocate, including getting help outside of the classroom. The material is challenging, so you will need to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. If you are not willing to stay dedicated to the class, that honors class may not be the best option for you.
Ease into freshman year and make sure not to overstimulate yourself – When I entered my first semester of highschool, it was very overwhelming. I had to get used to very early mornings, hour long sports practices, joining new clubs, and socializing with my new peers. At the time, academics were not at the top of my priority list. With honors classes, your grades can quickly slip, and once they slip, they are hard to get back up. When selecting whether you want honors courses or core courses, you have to be mindful of the transition into high school. Even if you feel you will be able to handle all the changes well, keep in mind that transitioning often requires you to focus on other aspects of your life besides academics.
Evaluate your level of interest in the subject – If you really don’t like a subject, do not take the honors course. It really isn’t worth putting in extra time to study and do work for a class you dislike. Instead you could be putting in the time to work on a subject you enjoy. This year, I struggled with deciding whether to do honors spanish, or core spanish. Personally, I do not enjoy learning language and it does not interest me. I ultimately decided to do core spanish, and I am very pleased with my decision. Although it was one of my easier classes, I didn’t have to spend very much time doing work on it, and put that time into focusing on other classes.
So, how challenging are honors courses? – You really can’t generalize all honors courses into one solid answer. They largely depend on the teacher, the school, your personal interest and knowledge of the subject. The only guarantee, is that honors classes will be at a higher level of challenge than regular classes, there will most likely be more homework, you may move at a faster pace than a regular class, and you will be expected to produce a higher quality of work than of a regular class.
If I feel able to, should I take all honors? – Despite what guidance counselors may say, I personally believe that if you understand what you are getting into, you should take all honors. With taking all honors, you may have to give up much of your free time, and really have an academic challenge. If you are aware of this, and feel like you are able to handle the challenge, you should take all honors. I have talked to several peers who have taken all honors, and although they said it was challenging, they made it work in their lives.