The Paradox of Choice


With Verification Day coming up, stress at Newton North is peaking. Many students have felt incredibly stressed by the process of picking courses. Not only is there the fear of choosing, but there is also a fear of not getting those choices once committed to them. Many of the classes I want to take only have one class. With this in mind, I know the subtle anxiety of potentially not getting one of these courses will stay with me until my course selection is finalized for fall. At North, this same fear is felt radiating from my classmates and others who walk the halls. Students lament their concerns over issues such as not taking enough APs as teachers stress the importance of finding balance in your course load, all the while they emphasize turning in your class decisions as soon as you can.

I believe that the ability for students at North to choose their classes is an amazing opportunity. However, with many of us fearing having a course list that doesn’t look “right” to colleges, the strength of this offer is lost. Currently in the United States, colleges emphasize having a resume that appeals to their requirements. Many schools recommend four years of language or prefer kids carrying more APs than they can stand to hold. Students, such as those at North, are placed on a course that limits our opportunity to find our passions even when we have the chance too.

Although teachers and guidance counselors may offer comfort and support in conquering the pressures colleges put on us, often times they are no match to the need we feel to get into a dream school with the old excuse of “I will have the opportunity to learn these things some other time.”

However, we as students need to actively fight against these anxieties. Rather than conform to the classes we feel expected to take, we should follow our own passions as our teacher says. There is no shame in wanting to take that extra AP class, but there should be necessity in making sure at least one class you’re taking fits your own interests. Schools may have recommendations and standards, but there is so much more to be offered in the things we can do following our own interests. With writing a book, creating an art portfolio, starting a business, or doing lab research under our belt, there is no reason any school shouldn’t be willing to take us. It is a rare occurrence to find places that offer the extent of diverse classes that North does. With this reality in mind, we must work to break the so-called “requirements” colleges put on us to demonstrate that what makes us worthy of acceptance is doing the things we ourselves find worthy.


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