East students should have more time to pursue interests that they care about

Students should have the opportunity to choose classes without worrying about requirements or time restraints.

Courtesy of GreatSchools

Students should have the opportunity to choose classes without worrying about requirements or time restraints.

At Cherry Hill East, there is certainly no limit to the number of electives that are offered. In this regard, Cherry Hill East students are lucky. The electives range from science courses like forensics, to creative writing classes and history courses. However, students are struggling to find time in their busy schedules to fit in all the courses that they want to take throughout their high school career.

The students at Cherry Hill East are typically required to take eight classes per semester. For a freshman student, that leaves few openings for electives totaling ten credits. The student could take four half-year electives for their freshmen year; one full-year elective with two half-year electives or the student could choose the third option of having only two full-year course electives. For a sophomore, depending upon how many classes they may take online, there could still be only two openings for electives. Although upperclassmen typically have more leeway in course selection, they still have many requirements to fulfill. At East, we are encouraged to find our passions and explore new interests, but how are we supposed to do this when we don’t have the time to explore these interests through the wide variety of classes offered at East?

There is no denying that East has many more electives offered than most high schools, but how can the students capitalize on this opportunity if the schedules are so jampacked?

Additionally, one of the biggest concerns with the electives offered at East is that many classes are only offered to upperclassmen. Some classes are to be expected, like an AP biology course. Surely, there is no way to take that class without first completing a basic biology class which should be in a freshman’s schedule. Therefore, that class is offered to only juniors and seniors. But this is only one instance. Psychology, Sports Medicine, and Entrepreneurship are all instances of courses that are only offered to upperclassmen without realistic reasoning.
Upon graduating from East, it is society’s expectation that students go to college. Though this expectation is slowly starting to change thanks to many successful people who have not gone to college, those who do so are expected to declare a major. These students are then expected to spend at least four years studying something that perhaps, they didn’t have enough time to explore in high school.

Also, there are certain requirements that East students must meet in terms of their electives. Incoming freshmen are now required to take African American History. Juniors and seniors are required to take financial literacy before graduating. And, all students are required to take five credits in 21st century life and career skills, and five credits in visual, practical and performing arts. Students are then expected to take their core classes and choose electives that best fit their interests, all while meeting these requirements.

For many students, it is near impossible to complete these requirements, take their core classes and choose the electives they wish to take without facing time constraints. Besides school, students have extracurricular activities, personal obligations and other such commitments. At school, students have the opportunities to explore interests in a classroom setting, but they can’t do this with the full schedules filled with requirements to graduate.

The East schedule, pre-pandemic, was a six-day cycle with one hour classes on days one through four and on days five and six, hour and a half classes. Surely, on these days, there is time for students to spend time on elective classes as opposed to spending an hour and a half in one class.

It also must be mentioned that students do have the option to take online classes. The most well-known online class at East is for history. Many sophomores and juniors are known to take American History online over the summer going into their sophomore and junior years.

However, this is not a plausible option for everyone. Some struggle with time-management skills and the online class environment would not help in this respect. Online classes also have much less guided instruction and have fewer opportunities for extra help. Also, the more likely disadvantage to taking online classes as a substitution for an in-person class is that most cost a significant amount of money. Not everyone has the option to spend money on a class that could be offered in school.

The elective courses offered at East are vast, and there is no denying this. But, what is the point in having all of these courses if students cannot take advantage of them? East is lucky enough to have these excellent electives, but the next step must be to find more time for students to actually take the classes and explore their interests, without worrying about their requirements and time restraints.