Appreciate your options

By David Lim

Every August as we all try to hold on to the last days of summer, we re-enter the world of school by the arrival of our schedules.

Unlike most of my fellow classmates, I jump past the mess of class numbers to the bottom and find the “Scheduling Conflicts” section as full as it has been for the past four years for me.

I cannot help but feel a little dissapointed by the rather mysterious and complex machinery of the scheduling system. After all, our schedules are a carefully selected palette of classes that ideally somewhat reflect our interests and who we think we can be at Harvard-Westlake. Overall, I think the scheduling system works amazingly, considering that it must accommodate the classes of almost 900 upper school students. The vast majority of around 1,000 scheduling requests every year are either requesting teachers or changing the period of a class.

Yet, I have been in that minority of 40-50 people with conflicts for all but the first year of my Harvard-Westlake career due to my unusual combination of classes, and I have had no option but to reconcile myself with this yearly phenomenon.

I have realized the last-minute tweaks to my schedule forced by these conflicts have helped me reevaluate my passions and pushed me to try courses I never would have considered before. This year, my schedule delivered a conflict between Advanced Placement Biology and Chemistry, showing me I’d be unable to double up on science my junior year. After a string of rapid-fire emails back and forth with my dean, it seemed Latin Literature would be on the chopping block to preserve the science classes I thought I valued the most.

After seeing my dean again, I realized biology was the science I absolutely wanted to keep and that I would regret turning my back on Latin forever just to stick with the schedule I penciled in months ago.

Against the advice of seniors who urged me to keep AP Chemistry, I dropped the class. I plan to take the class next year, although I regret losing the experience of taking the class with a small group of my fellow juniors. With a stack of Ovid, Cicero and Sallust arriving in my book box, I am sure I made the right decision and look forward to a year in a class I will surely enjoy for its own sake. Also, this year’s conflicts have pushed me into AP Physics C: Mechanics, a class I had not really considered previously. Yet, I am eager to try the class out. A schedule conflict back in eighth grade led me to abandon a photography class and check out journalism on the Spectrum for the first time. If my schedule had not worked out exactly as I wanted it, I would not have been writing this article for the Chronicle.

The valuable lesson here is stated perfectly by Rolling Stones in their song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

No matter how hard we try, life never follows any plan we may come up with. This applies to the little things in life such as my junior year schedule and more important life-changing situations that I have not yet faced.

Instead of losing sleep over our plans not working out exactly as we wanted, we can use such obstacles as opportunities for us to figure out what really matters and live a little by trying things we wouldn’t otherwise.

Although “you can’t always get what you want,” life all works out in the end, just as Mick Jagger belts out: “But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”