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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

‘Rigorous’ schedule standards may change on school reports for college apps

What does it mean for a student to take the “most challenging” course load?

This question on the school reports that guidance counselors send to colleges during the college admission process has never been answered with a standard measurement. In the past, the school’s four guidance counselors have made individual judgment calls on the rigor of each student’s academic load.

This standard may now become more concrete as the result of a review by a committee comprising teachers and administrators.

Assistant principal Brian Safine, who is a member of the  committee involved in setting the standard, hopes the uniformity that comes with a numerical qualification will better demonstrate to colleges the expectations of students at SHS.

“We would like to communicate to colleges that our most rigorous course load is the one we recommend students [take],” Safine said. “One number we are kicking around is 8 [total AP/Honors classes].”

Colleges’ definition of “most challenging” schedule is vague and qualitative, according to Safine, so each metric for measuring schedules across the nation is different right now. The schoolwide standardization would provide clarity to students and send a message to colleges about the school’s recommended course load.

The standard, though, is not meant to restrain students from taking harder courses.

“We’re not going to put a hard cap on the number of advanced classes students can take, but we’re telling colleges what our recommended limit is,” Safine said.

The change is not aimed at altering the way students structure their schedules, he added.

In fact, senior Nicole Chiou, who took both AP Biology and AP Chemistry in her junior year, thinks that any change to this standard will not affect the number of AP/Honors courses that students take, because they would not plan their schedules according to it.

“Most of the people in my AP classes just like being around other people who challenge themselves, so I think they will continue to put themselves in a challenging environment regardless of this change,” Chiou said.

Even though Chiou said many students would not change the way they choose their classes after this standardization, the administration hopes that this numerical definition will give colleges a way to measure rigor.

'“You can get really far flung [in scheduling] with that definition of the word ‘most,’” Safine said. “Part of it is the semantics. The most rigorous course load [is] an impossible load to take.”

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