High school workload and extracurriculumn forum (August 2022)

Notes by Derek Zhu 
hosts: William and Alex Sun
Speakers: Sophia, Kate Liu, Bharat Salvady, Howard Shi, Fred Guo

How does the difficulty of classes and workload change from junior high to high school?
⁃ Dependent on classes you select; not a lot of worrying freshman and sophomore years.
⁃ use the ease of classes to explore clubs and options in freshman year
⁃ more independence and need for responsibility and organization
⁃ a lot more self-teaching and independent work is required compared to jh
⁃ in some classes,

When selecting courses, how should we know what courses are right for you?
⁃ ask upperclassmen to get to know classes and teachers
⁃ have a good balance of easy and hard 6.0 scale classes
⁃ focus on rank is good to an extent, but more focus on learning and subjects will be beneficial and the rank will be sure to follow.
⁃ most AP/PAP options that are presented to you in course selections are tolerable
⁃ keep the 6-week dropoff period in mind, so aim higher in freshman year

How many clubs do you recommend people to join, and which ones?
⁃ in freshman year, try to join as many clubs as you can, but keep a more limited selection as workload increases.
⁃ joining clubs early makes it easier to have leadership positions later on
⁃ try clubs that you’re passionate in
⁃ honor societies and other community service clubs generally only admit in later years
⁃ don’t be afraid to explore since dawson has a lot of career-oriented clubs, such as deca, model un, or youth government.
⁃ state competitions:
⁃ join a UIL academic team if you’re willing to challenge yourself

What do you think on doubling math or doubling science that impacts later years?
⁃ attempt to double up classes in earlier years to test the waters, see if it’s for you or not
⁃ PAP chemistry is the course to see if you’re invested in science
⁃ pre-cal in freshman year is generally not a good idea
⁃ don’t put unnecessary workloads too early on in hs
⁃ if you want a math challenge, UIL math is a better choice than pre-cal
⁃ when doubling up, try to avoid doubling up with two very hard classes
⁃ AP stats is very easy
⁃ put as many notes as you can in your calculator for classes that allow calculator use

Which AP courses are hard and which ones are easy?
⁃ east: stats, environmental science, calculus AB, compsci, art classes (easy but time-consuming)
⁃ hard: chem, physics, calculus BC
⁃ check pass rates and test scores on the AP classes website to assess how hard a course is

What is the importance of ranking and GPA, and what incentives are there?
⁃ UT austin gives auto-admit undergrad majors, so you may not have the major you want
⁃ as a rule of thumb, gpa is important to an extent, but focuses on extracurriculars are more appealing to colleges.
⁃ GPA is only one aspect of college aps among countless other ones.
⁃ dawson is an exceptionally competitive school gpa-wise, and colleges take that into consideration.
⁃ don’t take easier courses to better your rank and gpa
⁃ don’t let harder classes discourage you from taking harder classes and exploring your passions
⁃ AP classes are easier in high school, sp clear them out
⁃ take after-school labs highly into account if you have band or sports with afternoon practices.
⁃ good gpa is the bare minimum if you want to join ivy leagues

How does cell phone use change from JH to HS?
⁃ some teachers don’t care, some teachers are very strict
⁃ most teachers will give there policies at the beginning pf the year
⁃ cell phone use reflects to respect, and keeping that in mind when asking for recommendation letters is important
⁃ try to limit your cell phone use deeper throughout high school, even though allowed usage is higher.

How does band require high school?
⁃ do most pf your work at school, since time is very limited
⁃ know it is a huge time investment; unless you’re a prodigy or you have a high passion, don’t combine it with insanely hard AP classes
⁃ don’t only take band for the PE and fine arts credit, there are easier ways to obtain the credit
⁃ know you can only gpa waive one class, but SAT prep gives another waiver

what are good study tips or working habits?
⁃ isolate yourself, limit distractions
⁃ try your best to plan studying and not procrastinate
⁃ pat attention in class and don’t be afraid to take notes
⁃ AP prep books and practice tests are valuable assets for studying in AP courses
⁃ study dates are considerable to limit distractions, take only one or two friends to keep each other in check
⁃ don’t go on your phone in eagle hour
⁃ by the time you get home, you’ve lost your working momentum so use classtime

What is the general consensus on study dates?
⁃ try not to take one with your best friend to limit the chance of goofing off
⁃ best for projects
⁃ keep in mind the goal is studying
⁃ libraries are the best places, and drink station because nobody goes there
⁃ keep one or two friends only to keep each other in check

What would you do differently if you went back to being a freshman?
⁃ be more academically involved, and take the right classes to have you in a good position later on.
⁃ don’t be afraid of AP/PAP courses
⁃ don’t be afraid to join clubs and try new things
⁃ try to avoid comparing yourself, comparison hinders growth
⁃ don’t be intimidated by upperclassmen, they give a lot of good, personalized advice