Monday, August 23, 2010

"My counselor messed up my schedule!"

Yes, yes, yes.

That's what I hear far too often around this time through the halls of Hamilton and on the walls of FB. Since most students will pick up their schedules Tuesday and Wednesday and plan on meeting with their counselor, here are a few tips from a counselor to make your trip go much more smoothly (and you may not have to wait in line).

But first, let me explain something....

Each counselor inputs a student's schedule at least TWICE into a computer, once in the Spring with each students' class preferences and then again in the summer when your counselor gets the computer generated schedules. Most students lack a full schedule of classes after the computer generates your schedule. Yes, you read right. You are not the only one.

This happens because the computer is a machine that runs off a set of numbers that we input and off a master schedule that created by a room full of teachers, counselors and administrators. Each person (teacher, student, administration) plays a crucial role in creating the best master schedule in hopes that will eventually produce an individual schedule that is the most ideal for each student.

That doesn't always happen. The computer generates the rough draft. And that usually sucks.

And it's not always your counselors fault. In fact, most of the time, it's not your counselors fault. First off, each class during each period has a set capacity that counselors are not to surpass. This means we can't add you to a class that already has 45 students enrolled. Call me crazy, but who would want to be in a class with that many students anyway?

I can't tell you how many requests I get to "just make an exception" for one student. One student for each counselor....turns into 7 students making the enrollment hit 52 for that class. Not going to happen. Hami does not have lecture halls. These are classrooms that were built to hold about 30 students.

But I digress.

When a class is capped, the computer will not automatically enroll students into the class, and most of the time counselors cannot manually add you to the class if the enrollment has reached capacity. So we have to wait. Wait until someone drops the class, or wait until another student changes their mind about taking the class. Because you do change your mind. Quite. Frequently.

So what do you do when you realize your schedule sucks and is not what you envisioned in the summer? Take a deep breath. Count to ten. Breathe. Life will go on. And we can fix most issues.

If you are one of the few that would like to brave the lines and meet with your counselor in the next couple of days, remember your counselors are human. They/We have feelings and being mean does not help because chances are they gave you as best a schedule as they could. Remember that, unlike teachers, we cut our vacation short to come in and get your schedules situated before school starts so you're in class, and not in a line, on the first day of school.

If you need to make schedule changes, here are some tips to tackle the lines and stress that comes with picking up your schedule (not in numerical order):
  • Take a deep breath and pick up a schedule change request form. Write down EXACTLY what you would like changed. (ex. you have AP Bio and would like Honors Bio or you currently have Auto Shop and would prefer another elective). We can't read your mind. When you're in the office with your counselor, this form can serve as your notes for explaining your requests.
  • Give a reasonable explanation for the schedule change. There is not always room to write down the entire reason on the form, but this certainly helps your counselor understand your request if you are not sitting in front of them. In addition, this can serve as a reminder for your counselor why you are such an awesome student.
  • Be flexible. Not every class is offered in the exact time of the day you need to take it. Offer additional suggestions (ex. "I'd like to take one these three classes" instead of only "I don't want to take this class").
  • Write down your phone number and/or email address on your form. We may have questions or can update you on the schedule request if what you wanted was not accommodated in your visit.
  • As a counselor, my goal is ALWAYS to ensure that you satisfy your high school graduation requirements and complete the necessary courses to be eligible (and oftentimes competitive) for a college or university. I don't speak for everyone, but this is the sentiment for most counselors.
We will do our best to get you what you need because we want you to succeed.

Patience is key.

Don't forget to say thank you!

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