Written by: Anna Qin
Starting spring semester of last year, the Guidance Department made significant changes to the course selection and schedule-changing processes.
Changes to the overall system include releasing schedules online, a zero period and G-prep request form and a yellow final course confirmation form at the end of the preceding school year. The confirmation form is the last opportunity for students to verify the courses they have selected and to make any changes after discussion with their counselors.
The “Schedule-O-Rama” that was part of the system in past years has been eliminated, and instead, students are to fix any issues concerning missing courses before school starts. No period transfers will be made after- wards unless under special circumstances.
The main reasons for the change are a reduced budget decreasing the number of possible sections and improved efficiency, according to Assistant Principal of Guidance Tom Jacoubowsky. “We were able to offer the Schedule-O-Rama before because we were able to offer more class sections,” Jacoubowsky said. “But what we found the last couple of years was that students were using [the process] to switch into classes with their friends or with certain teachers. We were getting a lot of unnecessary changes that prevented us from working with students who had changes that actually needed to be addressed.”
Jacoubowsky adds that the new process is much more streamlined, and class sections have been able to be finalized much earlier than in previous years.
“According to teachers, this year had the smoothest start yet,” he said. “We were able to look at our numbers and add sections after the second day, and once we hit day three we had all the class sections set.”
In the past, schedule changes are usually made the 11th week of school. According to math teacher Rachel Congress, while the transition was difficult and many students were being switched around in their class sections, the earlier change is for the better. “Some teachers had huge classes of 36-38
students,” she said. “It was better to move the students earlier on than later.”
Response to the new system in Guidance has also been positive. According to Guid- ance counselor Jovi Johnston, the system’s efficiency has allowed the counselors to be more organized and prepared. “One of the really big advantages was that students set- tled in faster,” she said. “Because everything was so much more streamlined, we were able to clean up and organize our files before see- ing the seniors for their senior conferences.”
Next year, no major plans for change have
been confirmed, and the structure of the process will remain similar to the format this year. However, rather than in May, course requests will be finalized in April in order to finalize the master schedule (the complete list of all courses and all class sections offered at Gunn) as soon as possible.
For zero period and G-prep students, the application process will be kept the same. According to Jacoubowsky, new course or section additions to zero period are unlikely. “Ten percent of our students are already in zero period,” he said. “We’re hitting the
point where we have enough class sections. Departments such as Math already have the maximum number of sections.” For students who have issues with their zero period or G- preps due to high demand for the sections, Johnston stresses the necessity for commu- nications with counselors and Jacoubowsky in order to meet their needs.
“Students should let their counselors know if they have issues with their classes or any important reasons why they need a zero period class or a G-prep,” she said. “We will do our best to accommodate for them.”