Students override recommendations despite warnings

Infographic by Melanie Lust '19

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At the beginning of the third marking period, teachers recommended which courses their students should take the following year. Despite warnings from teachers and guidance counselors, many students decided to override their course recommendations in order to add more challenging classes to their schedules. In particular, a significant number of students overrode recommendations in English and math, as reported by the department chairs.

“There has been an increase in the number of overrides,” English department chair Julie Heller said.

Accordingly, guidance counselors have noted that problems often arise when students override into difficult classes.

“Most of the time, when students override into courses, they struggle,” Denise Honeycutt, one of the ninth grade guidance counselors, said. “Many times, they end up changing levels.”

Furthermore, the Staples High School website warns parents of potential issues which may result from overriding a teacher’s recommendation.

“The pace of the course may be too rigorous and inappropriate for your child; the level of content and workload may be too difficult,” the website says. “It may be impossible for your child to change to a different course, course level or revert back to the original teacher recommended course […] your child may not acquire the learning and grade which they consider satisfactory despite their best efforts.”

While school staff warns against overriding course recommendations, many students believe that overriding a recommendation can be the right decision.

“I’ve overridden and been really successful in the class,” Lilly Howes ’17 said. “If you think you can do it, you probably can.”

There are multiple explanations as to why a student might choose to take a more difficult course than the one they were recommended for. For instance, some students feel as though taking certain courses will improve their chances of being accepted into a particular college.

“‘Honors definitely looks better than A [on a transcript],” Joe Xiang ’19, who has overridden course recommendations in the past, said.

However, other students may override because they feel pressure from their parents or peers to take more challenging courses.

“Staples is such a competitive academic environment that students often put pressure on each other to take the hardest courses,” Mikayla Czizik ’17 said.

According to social studies teacher Daniel Heaphy, when overriding course recommendations, it is important that students are confident that they are well suited for success in whatever class they are choosing to take.

“I think problems arise when students take bad advice and listen to rumors from their peers,” Heaphy said.  “You only want to [override] for the right reasons.”

A male 11th grade student who wishes to remain anonymous agrees with Heaphy’s statements.

“Many of those who do override do so for the wrong reasons. Not because they like a class, but because they need the GPA, and in most cases, the wrong motivation will lead to a rather disappointing end,” he said. “Colleges would likely prefer [a] high grade in an A level course [to a low grade in a more difficult course].”

Czizik notes that whether or not a student should override a course recommendation is circumstantial, as each student faces a unique situation. She suggests that students meet with a teacher if they are unsure of whether or not to override.

“Teachers are here to help students,” Czizik said, “and in my experience will be more than willing to give students some insight on courses.”