Seniors create database with students’ perspectives, notes on classes

September 9, 2016 — by Jay Kim

Seniors create a new website to help aid fellow students. 

Over the summer, seniors Anthony Barthell, Theo Luan and Apoorv Kwatra created a website called SHS Advisor to assist students to thrive in classes they signed up for.

The tagline for the site is: “a guide to breeze through your four years at Saratoga High.”

“Every year people are unsure which classes to take because all they hear [about the classes] are rumors,” Barthell said. “I thought that if I made a website that offers accurate advice from previous students, people wouldn’t [have to] just guess the [rigor] of AP and Honors classes.”

The website is categorized by subjects, which each have an array of different classes. Each class page has specialized tips to get a high grade in the class and ranks the class’s difficulty level from “very easy” all the way to “very challenging.”

“We gathered advice and resources from previous students like tips to succeed in class,” Barthell said. “We wanted to distribute it to the whole school so anyone could use it.”

Other resources the website provides are previously used study guides that were posted in Facebook class groups.

“I thought it would really help if people could use previous study guides because people already share them in general,” Barthell said. “If there is one database for everything everyone can get it from there.”

Barthell thinks the system could effectively decrease the high-stress nature of the school by encouraging students to help each other as their learn tough subjects. However, as school started only a couple weeks ago, the site is in its early stage, and much information needs to be added.

They are currently surveying past students, who have gotten A's in those classes, for advice to succeed, especially for subjects such as English and math that which do not require as many study guides.

Additionally, the trio is planning to crowdsource some of the remaining study guides on the class’s Facebook pages to encourage others to help the school. Luan explained that it would be greatly appreciated if students who are interested in sharing could contact them, as they would upload the guides only upon the authors’ consent.

“It was challenging to get enough study guides to release [and also] to think of an efficient layout for each page,” Luan said. “We wanted every word on the site to be useful to the students and we overcame that by just thinking what we would find useful since we are students ourselves.”

Despite these challenges, the creators of the website are satisfied with their work so far and are aiming to play a role in reducing students’ stress and increasing their learning.

“Although there is still much work to be done on the site, I believe SHS Advisor will soon become a fundamental asset to each student's success in the classroom,” Barthell said.

Note: In response to criticism, some parts of the website SHS Advisor such as its original tagline have been modified by its creators after this story was originally published on Sept. 16, 2016. 
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