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Course Selection FAQs
Q: How do I sign up for classes for next year?
A: Students select their courses through Family Connection, the same software used by the College Counseling and Community Service departments.

Q: When is Course Registration?
A: Student and parents will meet with the advisor sometime in the month of February to discuss the student’s progress through the school year and to plan next year’s courses. A student should come to that meeting with her four-year plan tentatively filled out and an idea of the courses she would like to take. The four-year plan is always subject to change but will serve as a general guide through the course selection process. After reviewing with her advisor, the student should have a good sense of what to register for next year. Course selection should be completed before March 1. Parents may log into Family Connection to view their daughter's choices.

Q: What is the purpose of rewriting the student’s four-year plan every year?
A: Courses change from year to year and so do the student's interests.

Q: What is the Class Fair?
A: In February, a time is set aside during Conference or Y period when the chairmen of each department are available to answer students’ individual questions about prospective classes. The Summer School Director, Registrar and College Counselors are also there.

Q: Who can help me decide what to take?
A: 1. Your advisor is always the first and best source for advice.
2. The College Counseling Office is also available to discuss four-year plans with students and parents, especially for college-specific questions.
3. Ultimately, a student needs to spend  time doing the research and finding out more about a course by speaking with people currently in the class, the teacher of that class or the chairman of the department.
4. Mr. Ashton, Head of Upper School, Mrs. Herrera, Registrar, or Dr. Fishel, Dean of Studies, are also good resources.

Q: Is there any way a student could take six solids for just one semester?
A: No. The maximum number of academic solid courses a student may take for credit in any one semester is five. (The minimum is four.) Even if a student has a free block, it is not possible to add another solid. We feel very strongly that five solids is a full load. However, there are exceptions. A student may AUDIT a sixth solid, i.e., take it for no grade or credit. A student may also design a Directed Independent Study course to take in addition to her five solids. And online courses from Online School for Girls may be taken in addition to a full load of five.

Q: Does participation in a play or musical require enrollment in choir or acting class?
A: No, the major productions are by audition, and participation in our acting class is not a prerequisite.

Q: What is the difference in all the dance classes? Is one class specifically for Form I students?
A: All classes are by audition, and even current dance students audition every year. The classes are listed in the course catalogue from least to most advanced and differences are detailed in the description of each. Every troupe is available to a Form I student depending on her ability.

Q: Is there a minimum number of AP classes required before graduation?
A: No.

Q: How does a student register for a course that requires a placement test?
A: A student should always request the class that she wants to take. The appropriate teacher will contact her in the spring with information about when the placement test will be given.

Q: How can a student take two foreign languages before graduation?
A: The best practice model suggests that student should continue with the same language to its conclusion. That means at least through the AP level. If a student is passionate about language then she might consider beginning a second world language when she has completed level III of the first. This will require replacing a course in another discipline. Taking two years of one world language and then dropping it to begin the study of a different language is not advised. Commitment to depth of study is the goal.

Q: When does a student select the quarter of health and the activity classes she will take for P.E?
A: A student chooses her health quarter and activity classes on Book Distribution Day, when she picks up her schedule--as the block assigned for P.E. determines the classes which will be available. Changes should be directed to Jen Johnson, Upper School P.E. Coordinator. Changes to activity classes and the quarter in which a health class is scheduled may be requested on the first day of school, i.e. Orientation Day, or thereafter.

Q: How can a student take five solids and two electives?
A: Doubling in Fine Arts (or a Fine Art with a publication class) is possible IF one is exempt from taking the P.E. activity classes and the Health requirement that year. Health may be delayed one year or possibly taken in summer school. Juniors and seniors may satisfy the physical activity requirement by working out independently with a contract.

Q: Why do students take HAM and Government in the summer?
A: Summer school permits a student to take more than the 20 academic courses allowed in the four years of high school. Taking two required courses during the summer will allow more options during the year. Students should not feel pressure to take classes during the summer as, in fact, most do not. We encourage the student to do so with specific alternative classes in mind. All Biology classes require at least one semester of Chemistry and therefore may not generally be taken in the fall. Before planning your summer, discuss your four-year plan with your advisor.

Q: In which summer may HAM and Government be taken?
A: HAM may be taken any summer after the completion of World History, which is a prerequisite of the History of Art & Music. Government has no prerequisite.

Q: Are there any honors or AP courses available to sophomores?
A:AP Chemistry by placement exam—after extensive self-study. AP World History, which has the prerequisite of World History. AP Comparative Government, with the prerequisite of U.S. Government. AP Physics I or II, with a prerequisite of Physics and Integrated Math III.

Q: Does everyone do the same research paper regardless of course level (AP or regular)? Should this assignment be a factor in the decision of the number of AP and honors courses that my daughter takes her junior year?
A: A research paper is a requirement of U.S. History, both at the regular and AP levels. Students in the AP class write a paper that is a few pages longer than students in the non-AP class. Students have an entire semester to complete this 8-12 page paper and clear milestones are set forth by the teachers to ensure that a student does not fall behind. This assignment should not have a meaningful impact on a student’s choices of classes her junior year.

Q: Will the non-AP U. S. History class prepare the student for the AP exam also?
A: Yes, if she is willing to attend the review sessions offered in the spring to all AP U.S. History students.

Q: If a student decides to go to CITYterm, when does she write her junior research paper?
A: Students who go to CITYterm usually delay taking the U.S. History course until senior year, but senior year is a busy time to write the research paper because of college applications. If a student attends CITYterm in the second semester of junior year, she could write the paper first semester with the supervision of a U.S. History teacher but without being in the class. If a student attends CITYterm in the fall, she could use the research paper required there as a basis of the Hockaday required paper.

Q: How does the Wait List work? When are classes closed?
A: Classes are never closed and the Wait List is always open. Classes cannot be called “full” until school begins. We determine the number of classes needed by the enrollment of students in March registration. After that, additional people go onto a Wait List until the scheduling process has been completed. It works much like “standby” in the airline industry.

Q: Is the third year of the science requirement one semester of biology or two?
A: The requirement of a third year of science is now two semesters of biology. That could be a yearlong biology course, AP Biology; or AP Environmental, and one semester of biology; or two semester biology classes.

Q: How does an independent study work?
A: A Directed Independent Study program may be designed by a student for the purpose of focusing on an area of personal interest--something not available in a class at Hockaday. The student needs to obtain a mentor (teacher) to help guide the project. The project will be evaluated on the basis of the goals set by the student and by evidence of completion. The contract must be approved by the Head of Upper School, the student’s advisor and parents, the mentor/teacher and his or her department chairman before September 1.

Q: If a student takes HAM and/or Government during the summer after freshmen year, how should she plan her schedule for the coming year?
A: For example, there are several history and science courses available to sophomores; however, biology courses require at least the completion of one semester of Chemistry. It is wise to have several desirable options selected because not all course combinations can be scheduled.

Q: Can a student receive credit for courses not taken on campus?
A: Currently, once a student is enrolled at Hockaday, all courses required for graduation must be taken on campus except when participating in away/abroad program for a semester.

Q: What is the difference between an honors class and an AP class?
A: AP courses are designated by the College Board to equate to an introductory college-level course. The curriculum for AP courses is driven by the content of the AP exam. Honors classes may be just as rigorous as AP classes, but Hockaday teachers are responsible for the design of the curriculum.

Q: What are the factors a student should consider in deciding whether to take an AP or an honors course?
A: Generally speaking, if a student is doing “A” or strong “B” work in a subject, she is probably capable of taking on greater rigor. Students are always encouraged to speak with their teachers about this decision as well. They should also consider their own interests and strengths when determining which subjects they most want to explore more deeply.

Q. Does a student need to have a minimum grade in a course to be able to take the AP course in that subject?
A. There is not a minimum grade requirement in order to move into an AP course. Selection of most APs is the choice of the student; exceptions are those classes which require a placement test and AP Modern European History which requires an impromptu essay.

Q: How does a student know which math class is right for her?
A: In the spring, the student’s current math teacher will recommend the course that the student should take next. This recommendation may be viewed on Family Connection at the time of course registration. A student is not required to follow the recommendation but we believe that the current math teacher best knows her students’ capabilities.

Q: Is the AP exam required after an AP course?
A:No, students are not required to take the AP exam at the end of an AP course. Some subjects may use the AP exam as the final exam for the class, so students choosing not to take the AP exam will need to sit for an alternate cumulative exam.

Q: Should a student follow up Chemistry with AP Chemistry?
A: It probably is easier to take AP Chemistry right after Chemistry since the concepts from the first course are still fresh. However, students who wait until senior year also do well in AP Chemistry. If planning to take AP Biology also, it is beneficial to take AP Chemistry first as a good foundation in Chemistry is most helpful in learning AP Biology.

Q: Do students jump right into an AP course after a regular course or is there more of a progression?
A: Each subject has different honors and AP offerings. In some subjects, like history, students make a choice between regular U.S. History or AP U.S. History; there is no honors option or a prerequisite. We encourage students to work with their teachers and advisors in making these decisions, and the college counselors are also happy to answer questions.

Q: What is the limit on number of AP courses a student can take?
A: The maximum number is determined on an individual basis, but more than three Honors and/or APs in one semester will require the approval of the Head of Upper School.

Q: How should a student decide which courses to take at the AP level?
A: Students should feel free to explore their own interests when choosing advanced classes.

Q: May I take the AP exam even if I don't take the AP class? Is there a limit to how many AP exams that I can take?
A: A student may register for any, and as many, AP exams as she would like. The cost for each is $89.00.

Q: Do colleges only accept a certain number of AP classes?
A: College admission officers look at all of the AP classes a student has taken. However, the admission process is completely separate from the process of awarding AP credit. This happens after a student has been accepted and paid a deposit to the college. Depending on their own rules, colleges may limit the number of advanced placement credits a student receives.

Q: Do colleges look more at the grade in an AP course or the grade on the AP exam?
A: Colleges like to see strong AP exam scores (those taken in junior year) if students have them, but the grade from the year-long course carries more weight in the admission decision. AP Exam scores are on a scale of 1-5; scores of 4 and 5 are considered strong, and some colleges will give credit for scores of 3. After junior year, scores of 4 and 5 are added to the front of the Hockaday transcript.

Q. Why does Hockaday not weight grades in advanced classes like honors or APs?
A. There is no advantage or disadvantage in the weighting of classes. The only effect is on the GPA. Colleges have vastly different ways of evaluating the transcript and will often reconfigure the GPA during the admissions process to account for the various methods that different high schools use.

Q: If a student wants to participate in an abroad or away program during the school year, how do we guide her?
A: Students will need to do the internet research to find a program of interest. If a student is considering attending a program away from campus (abroad or otherwise) during the school year, she should be in touch with the Head of Upper School as early as possible. We have worked closely with several programs that fulfill our course requirements: High Mountain Institute in Leadville, Colorado, CITYterm at the Masters School in New York for juniors or seniors, and Swiss Semester program in Zermatt, Switzerland (for fall semester sophomore year). Our students have attended TASIS and School Year Abroad, as well. Participating in a semester or a year away program requires careful curricular planning, so students need to think ahead if they would like to pursue one of these programs.

Q: How is credit granted for semester abroad/away programs?
A: Grades from away programs are not included on the Hockaday transcript. The program is referenced and the away program transcript simply attached to our transcript.

Q: What courses are available for the Hockaday student at St. Mark’s?
A: Because of our new delayed start schedule for the 2013-14 year, coordinate classes will be difficult to schedule. See Mrs. Herrera to request a specific class.
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For questions about courses:
Contact your advisor or 
Lyse Herrera, Registrar

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