The Sixth Course Conundrum

aking six courses has grown in popularity at Choate. The simple process of adding a sixth course to a student’s class has given all students an opportunity to add an extra course to their typical load. This change in attitude encourages taking a sixth class and has created an impression that students taking five classes are at some sort of disadvantage compared to students taking six. While five courses was the average course load at Choate, the average course load has gradually become six, which the new schedule does not aide because of the extra time spent in the classroom.

Students taking six courses with the new schedule have two and a half fewer free hours than they did with the old schedule, which means that students are expected to do more work with less free time. Last year, students taking six courses had eight 45-minute free periods during the week, which amounted to six hours of free time during the school day that could have been used to get ahead on homework. Students taking six courses with the new schedule now have three 70-minute free periods during the week, which amounts to three and a half free hours during the school day. This cuts free time from the old schedule roughly in half, making a sixth course an extremely hard feat to tackle with schoolwork from the other five courses and extracurriculars.

Oftentimes, free periods aren’t even free for many students. Knowing the average Choate student, those frees periods are often consumed by music lessons, tours, or tutoring sessions. All in all, the work that comes along with taking six courses is quite strenuous without much free time in the new schedule to complete it.

With the new schedule, there are two ways the schedule of a student taking six courses can play out. The first potential scenario is having three classes for three days of the week, four classes on one day, and five classes on one day. The second scenario is having four classes everyday except for one, which will consist of two classes. Last term, I was dealt the former option. I quickly found that this was the better option, as there is only one tough day during the school week. While this schedule was still difficult for me to maintain, I found it manageable if I planned in advance.
This term, I had six courses on my schedule again, but my sole free period changed. I now shifted to the latter option of four classes everyday, except on Wednesday when I had two classes. No matter how far in advance I found I had planned, I could not seem to catch up with the workload. This led me to drop my sixth course. Preparing for four classes almost everyday wreaked havoc in my life, and I was simply looking to avoid the stress that each day brought.

Of course, there are certain circumstances in which students must take six courses. After all, new sophomores and juniors have to fulfill their requirements somehow. However, taking six courses has become a burden that students now feel is necessary to have in their lives. Six classes is now a norm on campus, which only adds to an already stressful environment. By all means, students should be able to take the economics or music theory course they have been longing to pursue since arriving at Choate. They simply must beware the time commitment and stress that may come with it.

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