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Scheduling Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing Courses:

  • What does my student talk to the counselor about regarding choosing courses?
  • Counselors meet with students through classrooms or smaller groups to review academic plans, graduation requirements, future goals, and summer school as well as answering any questions students might have.


  • Is it best to choose easier classes so I get all A’s?
  • College admission officers want to see the best grades in the most challenging courses students can manage.  This means A’s and B’s in the most rigorous courses in which students can be successful. Colleges receive our school profile which lists all of the rigorous courses, thus giving them a gauge to determine to what extent the student has challenged him/herself.  Students will need to ensure that they are meeting both Southwest High School graduation requirements as well as the entrance requirements for their post-secondary college or training institution.  Remember, however, that students are compared both to their Southwest peers as well as national and/or international candidates. As such, students are advised to avoid being a “minimum” candidate and are encouraged to take 4 years of both math and science.


  • Are PSEO courses better than AP or IB courses?
  • It depends. Every student situation is unique, and students are encouraged to contact potential post-secondary institutions to receive direction specific to their situation.  In general, we have found that colleges prefer students to remain at SW and challenge themselves in AP/IB coursework.  The rationale is two-fold:
    1. As SW is a strong high school known for excellent, AP/IB courses become “known quantities” for college admission officers.  That is, they have a good sense of the curriculum and how that curriculum will apply to and prepare them for the coursework at the college.
    2. Students taking PSEO courses tend to disengage from extracurriculars and other leadership opportunities at our high school. This is also counter-productive to being a strong applicant.


  • Do I have to take a 4th year of math or science?
  • You only need to have 3 years of math and 3 years of science to graduate from Southwest High School.  However, we strongly encourage you to take a 4th year of math and science. Colleges like to see that you have challenged yourself in high school and many selective colleges recommend or even require a 4th year of math and/or science. Another reason to register for a 4th year of math or science is to stay fresh in those topics.  College Freshmen who haven't had math since junior year of high school are much more out of practice than those who had a senior year math course!


Parent/Guardian Role:

  • As a parent/guardian, do I get to approve my student’s choices?
    • Parents/guardians are encouraged to be an active part of the discussion in choosing course. However, due to logistical challenges, parents are not required to review or approve student course requests.  Course requests made by students will be visible on the student/parent portal.
    • Parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to attend information sessions regarding registration, speak with current teachers about course options and recommendations, and engage their student in conversations about course planning and registration.


Student role:

  • Can I take whatever I want?
  • As a SW student, it is our expectation that you will be the primary decision maker in this process. Thus, students have the opportunity to explore courses at the course fair, talk with current and future teachers, engage parents/guardians and/or other caring adults in conversations about course choice, and review the course resources online.  SW students are expected to take ownership of monitoring their graduation requirements; counselors, teachers, and administrators are available to answer questions and assist in the decision-making.


Next Steps:

  • What happens next?
  • At the conclusion of the course request process, all student selections will be entered into our scheduling system. Course requests will be used to determine the courses offered and how many sections/hours are needed.  Hiring and allotment of teaching staff is determined by course and section needs.
    • Example:
      • 250 sophomores select AP US History (Requires approximately 8 sections)
      • 150 sophomores select US History (Requires approximately 5 sections)


  • Can I change my mind?
  • Once students submit final course requests in the winter/spring, changes can be made for very limited reasons. Requests to change course selections, to rearrange classes/hours, or teacher preferences can not be honored.  Every effort is made to provide students and families with information to make informed and appropriate requests in the winter/spring.