There are too many options here

Chronicle Staff

Every year, I attend the Admissions Family Visiting Days where student ambassadors meet applicants, give tours and sit on panels. Parents and applicants spend their morning amazed by all of the facilities offered by Harvard-Westlake, and more often than not they ask me, “Okay, what’s the truth? What’s the worst thing about Harvard Westlake?” And here I am, torn between going on instinct, saying we’re overworked and sleep deprived, or avoiding it by saying that there are no “bad” things. That’s when I realized that it was my choice to become overworked and sleep deprived. I didn’t have to sign up for all of these classes. So why am I doing it?

In the seventh grade, everyone’s schedules were pretty much the same. We all took P.E., Tech and Skills and art. The only varieties were our language and performing arts electives.

As we grew older, we had more opportunities to study our interests: be they animation, creative writing or symphony orchestra. Our academic lives became more exciting when we were able to challenge ourselves in our preferred fields.

When it all started, I was determined to try everything that piqued my interest, but it became harder to keep up with those classes as time went on and the difficulty increased.
When it came to the dreaded junior year, I started filling my schedule with classes that were challenging enough on their own, and two full-year electives. There were still classes I wanted to take that simply wouldn’t fit in my schedule, like video art, cinema studies and psychology.

Each spring when we choose our classes for the following year, students enthusiastically flip through the curriculum guide. The school offers myriad interesting and thought provoking courses.

Unfortunately, we are forced to make compromises and forgo the classes we would like for the ones we need. At this school we’re encouraged to pursue the classes we’re drawn to, but it’s just not realistic. How can we possibly take all the classes we would like to and live to tell about it? We just end up taking as many classes we can handle, and, in my case, dropping a beloved elective along the way.

So in response to the parents’ questions on the Family Visiting Day, I tell them, “The worst thing about Harvard-Westlake happens to be the best thing about it as well. We have all of the opportunities any student can dream of, but we simply can’t take them all.”