It’s that time again! It’s a new semester and students everywhere are getting their class schedules. Excitement. Anticipation. Disappointment. With disappointment comes the schedule change request.
Often in schools, it’s the school counselor who “creates” the students’ schedule. By “create” I mean, they put a list of classes into the computer for each student and the computer builds the schedules in away that allows for the most students to get what they requested. So really, the computer builds the actual schedule and the counselor makes adjustments on the back end as needed.
So the counselor is often the one who receive requests for changes. I used to be one of those high school counselors and I remember this time all too well. Are you ready to have the mystery explained? The mystery of why some schedules get changed and others don’t?
Good. Here we go!
Counselors Want the Best Outcome for All Stakeholders
Generally, counselors want students to enjoy school as much as possible and they want to honor requests. They aren’t playing favorites, flipping coins, or punishing students (or teachers) they don’t like. Counselors go into the field because they a people people. That means, they like people and want to help.
But there are limitations. Here are the major reasons why a schedule change request is denied:
The Request Isn’t in the Student’s Best Interest
Sometimes students request schedule changes that aren’t in line with their goals. All students need to take certain classes within four years to graduate. Sometimes the request is to drop a graduation requirement to take an elective. Excellent students might get away with this but it takes a level of risk and isn’t a common practice. In this case, I would speak to the student first and if they are adamant AND good students then I’d require principal permission and parent permission.
Sometimes they want to drop an elective be that would help them obtain a future goal for one that is more fun or that their best friend is taking. The decision isn’t responsible. In that case, I would speak to the student and require parent permission to honor the request.
The Master Schedule Won’t Allow the Change
Many times denial of the change is due to master schedule limitations. The master schedule is built based on teachers availability, their expertise, and student needs/requests. It is important that students make an honest effort to preregister (typically done around March/April of the previous school year) so that their needs and requests will be counted when the master schedule is built.
What is this mysterious master schedule? It’s basically the schedule for the school. It says that Mr. Scott teaches world history 1st, 2nd, and 3rd periods, plans 4th, and teaches US History during 5th and 6th period.
Sometimes the master schedule won’t allow the change. Sally might want to drop PE and take graphic design. Graphic design is 1st and 3rd periods. Her advanced band class is only offered 2nd. Her physics class is only 3rd and 5th. And AP English is only 2nd, 3rd, and 5th. She can’t take graphic design without giving up one of the other three.
I remember staring at this little puzzles trying to make it work. Sometimes, it just won’t.
The Class You Want is Too Big
Sometimes it has to do with class sizes. Many districts limit class sizes at 35. This closes sections of the course entirely. Imagine Sally’s situation above further complicated by the 5th period physics class is full. It adds an extra level of complication when discussing her options. If the graphic design course is full 1st and 3rd, then Sally can’t get her schedule changed to add graphic design and neither can anybody else.
Your Request Came Past the Deadline
At some point teachers need to get to teaching and students needs to get to learning without all the distraction of new students here and there. It also creates a problem with lost textbooks if books are distributed and a student gets moved around afterwards, the textbook may get lost in translation. Counselors have to set a deadline for schedule change requests to protect the sanity of teachers and students who are ready for normalcy. Routine is good for everyone.
Sometimes the request came too late.
If you Still Have Questions…
I can assure you, counselors generally get into the profession because they like kids and want to help them succeed. If you’re a parent and you still have questions, I’d encourage you call the school and schedule a meeting or leave a message for the counselor. But remember, they are busy trying to meet lots of demands this time of year. If you don’t hear anything in a couple of days, try again. But don’t let it go a week or that might put you past the deadline. If you’re a student, let a teacher know that you’d like to speak with your counselor. Again, if you don’t hear anything in a couple of days, try again.
Be patient but don’t give up either. I remember that stack of schedule change request forms on my desk. I felt like the UPS man at Christmas time. I had to have a system for keeping up with email requests from teachers, phone messages, and all the endless pieces of paper that came in. It takes a while to get through it all and it would be easy to lose track of something. So be patient, but follow-up.
If Your Schedule Won’t Change…
If your schedule change was denied and you’ve spoken to your counselor about why, then the only thing you can do is accept the things you cannot change. Look for the silver lining and make the best of the situation. Maybe there’s a reason your schedule worked out the way it did. Look for that reason. Think of it as an opportunity or a challenge. I remember sitting through a horrid computer keyboarding class in high school. “A,A,A space, S,S,S, space.” But I learned how to type 64 wpm. I also remember when my English teacher changed mid-year and I was traumatized. I hated it. But I got through it. You will too. Remember to…
How Does This Post Contribute to Connection?
It’s my mission to encourage connection in a busy world so we can all live joyful lives. When you’re frustrated with the school, then you’re probably not connecting very well with school staff. Counselors are there as your resource and miscommunication and frustration can lead to you not getting full benefit of their expertise and support. Frustration over schedule changes is a barrier to connection. I want to encourage you to connect with your counselor. They do care.