We all know the feeling. You check your schedule on Synergy, and suddenly Spanish 3A has been replaced with Spanish 4B, or instead of a P.E. credit, you have Painting. With more than a little trepidation, you make your way down to the Counseling Office.
For students, the whole scheduling process has an air of mystery. With the fate of your schedule hanging in the balance, waiting in line — unsure of what will happen when you reach the front — can be a frustrating experience.
“I was obviously fed up,” said sophomore Joely Mick, who had to get her schedule fixed three different times before the start of the school year. It was not until the day before the first day of school that her schedule was finalized. “I really just wish it worked the first time,” she said.
“[The South schedule-change system] tends to be quite a hassle with a long wait,” said sophomore Ylan Guinsbourg, who also expressed her confusion surrounding the system. “I don’t have a good understanding of what the process is or what options are even available to me.”
Currently, the easiest way for students to get the changes they need is to fill out a schedule-change request form. These purple forms are available in the Counseling Office as early as two weeks before the new trimester. Students are expected to consult the master schedule (which can be found on the South website under the “Academics” tab) and fill out the form accordingly.
Students can make the process run smoother by realizing that there is only one scheduler for all 1,500 students in this school.
“I have an interest in theater,” explained Sarah Parsons, a sophomore in IHS. “I didn’t really want to miss a year of taking drama. Because of the way the program is structured, it’s really harmful to your learning experience to miss a year of it.”
Parsons was able to use the schedule-change request form to switch out of Net Games and into Drama II. She turned the form in during late August, before the start of the first trimester, and her schedule was fixed in a matter of days.
“I have been very fortunate when it comes to scheduling,” Parsons said.
Students like Parsons, who takes year-long Spanish as well as Drama, can often find scheduling more difficult than their less-overbooked peers. For example, Eloise Parish Mueller, a junior in IHS who also takes Drama and French, has been having scheduling conflicts since middle school.
“I had to do morning IHS in order to take French, which meant I couldn’t take Drama, since that was also only scheduled for one section,” Parish Mueller said.
Because of the two-period IHS block, which can only be switched from morning to afternoon under extenuating circumstances, scheduling can be especially hard for IHS students.
“I feel like that’s just sort of a fact of life for IHS students,” Parish Mueller added.
Parish Mueller also said that scheduling can be difficult for students enrolled in French, which is often offered during only one period in the upper levels, due to the comparatively low number of students in the French program.
According to Sarah Gobeille, South’s scheduling coordinator, the schedule-change request form attempts to address all of the various scheduling complications students face, such as having to work around their classes at the University of Oregon or needing a class that’s only offered during a specific period. However, scheduling can get messy, so if a student has an issue that can’t be fixed using a form, a drop-in schedule arena is held every trimester on the last day of finals and the subsequent day. During these times, Gobeille and all counseling staff are available to work with students one-on-one to adjust schedules.
Sophomore Makenzie Williamson visited the drop-in schedule arena on the last day of finals last trimester.
“I went to the Counseling Office, and the line was down the hallway,” Williamson said.
However, after waiting in line for half an hour, Williamson succeeded in getting her schedule fixed with the help of the South counseling staff.
“I think it probably works fine for most people,” said Williamson of the current schedule-change process.
However, things have not always been this way. The schedule-change process has undergone some major alterations over the past few years, according to Gobeille.
For example, many older students may remember the so-called “Corrections Arena” usually held at the end of August. On this day, students would come to the cafeteria at specified times according to grade level and wait in line to meet with teachers, counseling staff, and administrators to fix their schedules before the school year started. The 2016-17 school year was the first year without the Corrections Arena; instead, students were asked fill out the schedule-change request forms and turn them in to the Counseling Office before the fifth day of school.
While some students welcomed the replacement for the Corrections Arena — a practice notorious for its long lines and stress-inducing atmosphere — others were not so impressed.
“I actually think that the Corrections Arena works better [than the schedule-change request form],” said Parsons. “You feel like [the staff] are listening more.”
I don’t mind too much having to wait that time, especially since the staff are working so hard anyway.
Among other changes to the system, counselors are no longer directly involved in the schedule-change process. Before, students could discuss scheduling issues with their counselors personally. Now, students are highly discouraged from doing so, advised instead to use the schedule-change request forms. The forms are in turn all processed by Gobeille.
Lastly, when it comes to getting into full classes, students who come with special permission from teachers are no longer being prioritized over other students.
“We want to be an equal opportunity school,” said Gobeille, “so that practice had to go.”
There are, however, a couple things students can do to improve their odds, Gobeille said. Schedules are processed on a first-come first-serve basis, so the sooner students turn in their schedule-request forms, the more likely they are to get the changes they need. Students should also make sure to fill out schedule-change request forms completely. Finally, if your schedule is not updated immediately, do not fill out another form, as this only slows down the scheduling process.
“Students can make the process run smoother by realizing that there is only one scheduler for all 1,500 students in this school,” Gobeille noted, adding that she would appreciate if students could be patient and flexible with the schedule-change process.
Guinsbourg also emphasized her appreciation for the South scheduling staff.
“I don’t mind too much having to wait that time [in line for drop-in scheduling arenas] every once in awhile, especially since the staff are working so hard anyway,” Guinsbourg said.
Gobeille said the schedule-change procedure could have to go through some changes if the district chooses to redo the high school common schedule. Otherwise, the administration is satisfied with the current process.
“I’m sure we will continue to tweak our forms here and there as problems or questions arise,” Gobeille said.
But for the most part, students can expect that the current process is here to stay.