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  • Michelle Jang

My Course Selection Experience

Over the course of last week, I have received a handful of questions regarding my experience in specific classes as Holton girls prepare to make their course selection for next year. I decided to write about history/social science, science, and math classes I took in hope of helping some of you to gauge what your experience could be like in those classes. Remember that this is only my personal experience, and course selection ultimately is the choice made by you and your supporting adults. Also, my understanding is that there will be no “AP classes” next year. Therefore, when you are browsing through the list below, keep in mind that the curricula of the classes are bound to change. Additionally, because I don’t have the greatest long-term memory skills but still want to provide you with accurate reflection, this blog only includes my junior and senior year classes.

History/Social Science:

AP Core (Grade 11)

If there is one class I suggest that everyone should consider taking, it would hands-down be AP Core. Core itself is something unique to Holton. By combining European History and American History, students learn how cause-and-effect dominates western history. Of course, the work load is notoriously high. It usually took me an hour to an hour and a half to do a night’s homework. However, if you just do your daily homework, both the unit tests and the final AP exam aren’t too bad. Dr. Seltzer prepares you extremely well for the AP exam, and you will experience some of the most spirited harkness discussions in his room. The biggest tip I can give you is to GET CRASH COURSE. It summarizes everything succinctly, and it will be your lifesaver when preparing for review quizzes.

AP Economics (Grade 12)

This is currently my favorite class (I probably have a bias since I plan on being an economics major in college). If you like routines, this is the perfect class for you. Each night, you need to read a module in the textbook (usually four to eight pages), take notes and memorize a few vocabulary definitions for maybe a “pop quiz” the next day. At the end of each unit, Mr. Falk gives out a practice test that often prepares you extremely well for the real test. Be ready for lots and lots of graph drawing, labeling and analyzing. Even if all the academic description doesn’t sound too enticing, I would suggest you take the class just to be in the presence of Mr. Falk. He is hilarious. Economics usually is a morning class, and his rhythmic head bobbing, insane story times, and stream-of-consciousness way of speaking are more than enough to wake you up.

AP U.S. Government (Grade 12)

Gov is taught by Mr. Tupper, the symbolic head of Upper School (I think we should crown him). This class doesn’t strictly abide by the AP curriculum. This year, aside from the classic study of the government, we also read and learned about the lives of people living in an environment where you can’t “Just Say No” to drugs, movie techniques, and techniques to write effective essays. Homework varies day to day. Once you start the Janda textbook, your homework becomes to read and learn one chapter in preparation for a basic knowledge quiz. He usually gives two to three class days for you to complete this assignment. Each chapter is usually about thirty pages. Technically, you can (I mean, you should if you are sensible enough) divide this up into three nights of ten pages of homework, but I’ve never been diligent enough for this. I usually end up cramming the night before the quiz. Mr. Tupper doesn’t give “tests,” and you are only required to recollect a chapter worth of information at a time, a system I love because I do not enjoy holding a test-worth of information in my brain for an extended amount of time. However, in order to do some multiple choice quizzes and FRQs, you do need to maintain a somewhat strong grip over the cumulative materials. You also get a weekly news quiz. You are only required to read the first page of the “Washington Post” each day, and this is the perfect way of keeping up to date on the current events. Also, because all your classmates are those who voluntarily signed up to learn about the government, class often spirals down a path of healthy disagreements and intellectual arguments about the current state of politics. If you are ready to take charge of your own learning, engage in arguments, and write many many FRQs, this is the right class for you!


AP Chemistry (Grade 11)

Where do I even begin? This is a non-STEM major speaking right here, so feel free to ignore me 180%, but Duan’s chemistry is still the hardest class I took at Holton. Nonetheless, the whole class broke out into laughter at least seventeen times each class, and no one can argue that Mr. Duan is the most precious human being. If you are a science-lover who is down for some hard core grinding on the periodic table, this is the right class for you. There are also so many opportunities that come with the class, including Chemathon and Chemistry Olympiad.

Computer Programming and Robotics (Grade 11)

Mr. Lee trusts his students to be able to steer their own education. Therefore, this class is truly what you make of it. I admit that I was a slacker and only did what went into the grade book. However, if you are serious about programming, this class gives you all the right resources to foster your pre-professional interest. You can take the weekly coding assignment and run with it to any destination you want. You get to build robots with Legos and motors, so if that floats your boat, definitely go for this course. Oh, fun story: I got run over by my own robot once. Another time, I coded for my computer to solve 1+3+5+7+9, and it gave me 0.0000888.

Advanced Topics in Biology (Grade 12)

I went from AP Chemistry to Adv. Bio with no transitional honors Bio or regular Bio in between (Thank God, no rat dissection for me). I heard that this jump is no longer allowed, but I had a fine time adjusting. If you love taking colorful notes and making stacks after stacks of notecards, this class will make you extremely happy. The tests sometimes feel impossible to study for, but they are never impossible. Do not feel discouraged by some seniors’ finsta stories (I’m guilty too) tearing up the night before a Bio test! You’ll have fun. I personally struggled the most with writing pre-labs and post-labs (because we never did a lab write up in Chemistry) at the beginning of the year, but Mrs. Hansen gives you very specific comments on how and where you can improve on and before you know it, you would feel perfectly fine steering through the year.


AP Statistics (One Schoolhouse, Grade 11)

I had to take Statistics online in my junior year because Stats conflicted with U1 science elective classes. One Schoolhouse is a great opportunity that I feel grateful that Holton provides. However, although One Schoolhouse is very organized and informative, it lacks the classroom experience that I find is essential to one’s learning. Whenever I compared my course load and tests to my friends’ in Ms. Takis’ Stats class, I could tell that Holton’s Stats class is so much more in-depth and analytical. It’s still a great option if you have unavoidable schedule conflicts.

Multivariable Calculus (Grade 12)

7 a.m. math class with Mr. Sneathen and Landon boys has been nothing short of constant surprise and excitement. Lifting my head and seeing a boy’s head is always an interesting experience (that I probably should get used to). Because we only meet three times a week, I find the course to be moving a little less rapidly than Calculus BC. However, the material is hard and often includes 3D graphs and formulas that mean little to my brain’s perception. However, Mr. Sneathen (especially early in the morning) is always a delight, and the materials we cover are very interesting. One warning is that your trimester grade is the average of the tests you take, so you better fasten your seatbelt and study up for those tests!

That concludes my personalized list of class descriptions. If you have any further question, please please feel free to hit me up! I’ll be more than happy to share my experience (or my friend’s if I have no experience with the class you are wondering about) with you in hope of making your course selection process even a tad bit smoother.

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