Student Scheduling: Nightmare or Not?

January 24, 2017

Staff and students at Dowling Catholic High School have to work together patiently to create the acceptable schedules for the upcoming semester. However, making 1,407 schedules acceptable isn’t always easy.

There is a lot more that goes into the job of the high school counselor than most people think. For Dowling’s counselors, managing the schedules of  all their students has its challenges. Even with the technology available today, classes often become too full or not full enough.

“Students are sometimes forced to make sacrifices and drop or add other classes,” Dowling counselor Lauri Stilwill said. “Students/Parents are unhappy that we are not always able to accommodate their requests.”

An estimated 80 students come to each counselor to modify their original schedule. Common reasons include that they want to switch electives, they want to take a more challenging class, or they simply can’t make up their mind.

Olivia Denkinger is a student at Dowling who changed her schedule four times this semester. “I was really indecisive about which science class I wanted to take,” Denkinger said.

Counselors don’t mind changing schedules when they have a reason like Denkinger’s. However, when a student wants to change a schedule because of the kids in the class or the teacher, they have to draw the line. Both Stilwill and Chris Harbaugh, another counselor at Dowling who is in the middle of his first year, enforce the same policy.

“We wouldn’t allow students to change schedules if they’re just wanting to change teachers,” Harbaugh said.

The computerized system used to make the schedules will be updated before the start of the next year in order to accommodate for the roughly 14,000 schedule changes made just this school year. The counselors try their best and aren’t given enough credit for what they do. Obviously, it is not the most amazing part of the job, but Stilwill and Harbaugh agree that they love the opportunity to talk to the students.

“I like being able to meet the students,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not my favorite thing to do.”

Dowling’s schedules are now set in stone, and the student and staff can finally sit back and move on with the semester.