By Eli Haims
We are presented with unique opportunities at Harvard-Westlake to take any number of semester-long classes ranging in topics from electronics to psychology to Contemporary American history. However, it seems that these opportunities are not being taken advantage of to the extent that they should be.
One of the benefits of these classes is that they tend to be less work-intensive than yearlong classes. In Contemporary American History for example, which I took first semester, our average homework assignment would be to read 30 or so pages a week, while this could easily be the same amount assigned nightly in a traditional history course. It is in this relatively low workload that lies the key – we can venture outside our comfort zones without fear of being overwhelmed.
At the Middle School, I was very reluctantly convinced to take Intro to Journalism. Not only did I enjoy the class, but journalism has become my most important extracurricular activity.
As I was signing up for classes for my junior year, my initial schedule contained two semester long electives, both in subjects that I am comfortable in, however, due to scheduling conflicts, I had to change both of these classes. One of them remained in a subject which I was very comfortable in, while the other, psychology, was something that I had ever done before.
When I look back on my high school years in a decade or two, it will not be the math or foreign language classes that I will remember, but it will be the ones that have had an impact on me in more than an academic sense. Not surprisingly, these classes have all been semester long electives.
We are all working in a constantly competitive environment when it comes to college admissions and may be reluctant to jump head first into an academic situation that we are totally unfamiliar with. Semester classes are the perfect oppurtunity to test the waters and they should be taken advantage of more than they currently are.