Students should contact their counselors to set up a meeting to request a
schedule change, but should be aware that the complex nature of
school-wide enrollment and scheduling make it difficult to change
courses once the school year has begun. Monday, 9/17 is the last day to
withdraw from a first semester or year-long course without it appearing
on the student's transcript. For further details, see the online
Unfortunately, there is no single or easy answer to this question. A
great place to start is to contact your student’s counselor. Many
students do take all Honors courses in 9th grade and find that they can
handle the workload and obtain excellent grades. However, others find
that the workload is too heavy and they feel stressed or overworked by
having five academic Honors classes. Note that Honors classes may assign
up to an hour of homework per night.
If a student is uncomfortable with a particular subject area or
struggles in one particular area to maintain a high grade, it might be
better for the student to take that class at the College Prep level.
Conversely, if a student is planning to take all College Prep classes
but excels in a particular subject area, he or she might consider taking
on the challenge of trying that subject as an Honors class.
Health is a graduation requirement. Nearly all students take Health
in 10th grade and that is what the counselor will recommend. If there
are extenuating circumstances (such as Special Education classes, or a
student transferring to LM after 9th grade, or a schedule that includes
courses at Central Montco Vocational Technical School), Health can be
postponed to another year. Contrary to some rumors floating around among
students, Health cannot be taken online.
Since Health takes up two class periods in the four-day cycle,
students will find their schedules a little tighter in 10th grade than
in other years. This is important to note for course selection. The same
course load that would provide a student with two study halls in other
years will leave them with no study halls in 10th grade because of
Health. That could be challenging if the student participates in a sport
or has other reasons to make up tests or meet with teachers during
There is no right answer to this question and no magic number of AP classes to take.
College representatives will say that they definitely want to see
students challenge themselves, but that does not necessarily mean taking
AP classes in every area. The student and parent/guardian need to take
into consideration strengths and weaknesses, level of interest,
time-consuming outside activities, etc. When deciding upon the number of
AP classes to take, we encourage students to think carefully about
workload, because taking too many APs can tip students into a stressful
and unmanageable situation.
In many cases, the scope of an AP class is different than that of
an Honors class -- for example, AP U.S. History covers 500 years of
history as opposed to Honors covering 100 years. A conversation with the
teacher can be helpful. I would recommend that the student's interests
be a guiding principle in course selection. If a student loves art, he
or she might want to try AP Art to explore the interest in a deeper way.
Not only will it make school a happier place, which generally makes for
a more successful student, but it also shows colleges another dimension
to the applicant.
We strongly encourage students to have a discussion with their
counselor about achieving balance in their schedules. Think about the
hours of homework along with hours spent on sports and activities, and
hours working or spent on family commitments. Is there enough time to
fit everything in? A good way to gauge the workload in a class is to
look at the eBoard for the current year.
Colleges look at the strength and rigor of the student's curriculum
and do not necessarily count the courses. If a student continues to
challenge him/herself in the 12th grade, that is fine.
What does a challenging schedule look like? It depends on the
student's interests and abilities. For students who have been taking
Honors-level classes, 3 AP classes are often very challenging but still
manageable. (We have seen that 4 AP classes can sometimes lead to an
unmanageable workload and too much stress for students.) An alternative
but equally challenging schedule might include fewer AP classes but
other non-AP academic options, such as Genetics or Literary Traditions.
In all considerations around course selection, we believe it is
important for students to pursue their own interests and choose a
schedule that will stretch them academically, rather than trying to
guess what colleges want to see in a schedule.
Colleges generally want students to complete at least two years of a
world language; most will prefer to see that a student has studied the
same language for at least three years. If a student chooses to drop a
language, the replacement course is important. For example, does the
student want to double up on science classes because that is a passion?
For younger students who are struggling with their world language
class, it is generally preferable to switch to try another language
after two years rather than dropping a language from the schedule
Conversely, students who have a knack for languages may decide to
add a second language to their schedule. For example, it is not uncommon
for students who took Latin in middle school to add in French or
Spanish as an elective beginning in 9th or 10th grade. Lower Merion also
offers Japanese, but it cannot be added as an elective until 11th