Guide to Course Selection at Milton
by The Milton Measure on Friday, February 24th, 2017
As course planning deadlines draw closer, Milton students are on the lookout for interesting classes for next year. Students have a broad variety of courses to choose from, seeing as the course catalogue is 35 pages long and includes half-credit courses, full-credit courses, and two year programs. Many courses are familiar to all Milton students, like Biology, United States History, or Class IV English, but others are not so standard to each student’s Milton experience.
Almost everyone will take a class such as Precalculus, but comparatively few students will take Intro to Aerodynamics or Story Core. Milton’s reputation as a humanities-focused school is well-justified, as most smaller elective courses focusing on history or the arts.
But many electives are also based in the sciences and math, though they tend to be advanced courses like nuclear physics or multivariable calculus. Ultimately, students often choose courses which fit their interests and personal version of the Milton experience.
For many, it’s a matter of studying something that they have an interest in outside of school. Cora Enterline (I) already felt passionately about social justice movements in the US like the feminist movement or Black Lives Matter, so she signed up for History of Civil Rights to “learn more about the depth and the complexities of the civil rights movement so as to better understand and support the movement now.”
Another small class focusing on social justice is Activism for Justice in a Digital World. Taught by Ms. Geyling-Moore, the class explores justice issues as well as ways to solve them, invites visiting speakers, and takes frequent field trips.
Sophia Greenaway (I) says that she chose the course because, “it’s important to learn ways to examine and critique structural inequalities in a time when things are simply not as blatant as they used to be and the tools of activism are shifting rapidly, even day to day.”
Not every course, however, centers on observation and criticism of structural oppression. Finn Congdon (I) takes Futurology in the science department, “one of [his] favorite classes at Milton” because it “combines science fiction, psychology, and movies.”
According to the 2017-2018 course catalogue, Futurology, which was introduced this 2016-2017 school year, uses “science fiction as a structure to investigate emerging science and technology, debate ethical issues raised, and imagine how science and technology could evolve in the future.”
And not all students take courses because of extracurricular interests. One Class II student explained she took an extra half-credit course so that she could “fill the course requirement, since — even though the course is interesting and I actually do enjoy it — I’m mostly just there to make sure I can get the credits I need to be a senior and get through junior spring.”
Others, particularly in sciences, take courses both to appeal to colleges and to prepare themselves for a potential career. One Organic Chemistry student said he took the course “mostly because I’m interested in taking Organic Chemistry in college but also because it shows that I’m dedicated and interested, especially in science.”
Having met most of their graduation requirements, juniors and seniors often tend to take more elective courses. Most students seem to be genuinely interested in taking an additional course or half-credit course, but many express concern about the extra work and the trouble of finding the time in an already packed schedule.
While some students cannot imagine adding another full or half-credit to their schedules, others simply shrug at the idea of, in the words of Sophia Greenaway, “bringing their workloads right to the brink of being completely miserable by trying to make the courses they took more interesting.”
Indeed, the single biggest thing that seems to hold students back is the fear that there would be too much academic pressure and that their grades would suffer, leaving them unattractive candidates for colleges. Finn Congdon, however, still advises hesitant students to “just go for it. You never know what you’ll get, and if you want, you can always just drop the class.”
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