New four year map lets freshmen plan courses early


Sophia Bella

This year, Burlingame’s administration implemented the course selection map to encourage students to explore the course catalog and envision their next steps and goals.

Athena Bostonmaer, Staff Reporter

Some teenagers can’t decide which outfit to wear each morning, let alone the 20-some-odd classes they will take over the course of their high school career. But nonetheless, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, the first batch of freshmen logged on to Aeries and submitted their four-year maps, including their chosen course load for the rest of high school.

This year, Burlingame’s administration implemented the map to encourage students to explore the course catalog and envision their next steps and goals. 

“[We want] students to be able to look forward and think about what their interests might be,” Assistant Principal Joshua Knudson said. “The four-year plan is intended to start the conversation with their families and with their teachers.”

However, many students felt unprepared and unable to make significant decisions this far in advance.

“I don’t want to choose my classes for my junior and senior year when I haven’t figured out what I want to do with my future,” freshman Sara Balach said.

Although this new procedure felt abrupt, the school’s counselors guided students through the process with assemblies and class visits. 

Earlier in the month, all freshmen reported to the theater during Flex Time for a course selection presentation from the counselors. During the assembly, academic counselors familiarized freshmen on several aspects of the process, including graduation and college requirements, math curriculum, College of San Mateo classes, and Advanced Placement courses. Students received a sheet of paper containing a table for each year and nearly every class Burlingame offers, alongside the requirements those classes fulfill.

Two weeks later, counselors visited freshman Introduction to Ethnic Studies and Health classes to give a second presentation to ensure that students felt comfortable submitting their plans on Aeries. Now, students are able to visit Aeries and view the courses they plan on taking throughout high school. 

Along with help from the counseling staff, students also reached out to upperclassmen and family for feedback on their choices.

“I talked to my older brother about it,” freshman Jack Vaksman said. “He told me the rigor of each course and what I should expect.”

After going through this process, some freshmen said they saw the upsides of planning ahead and felt confident in their choices.

“I think it’s necessary to see where students’ minds are,” freshman Max Lomeli said. “It helps to see what classes [students] are going to take and what options they have in the future.”

Regardless of the guidance freshmen received in the course selection process, administrators expect students to reconsider their choices and made clear that these maps are not static. Students can meet with their counselors and revise their schedule, whether it be a slight modification or a complete revamp of their previous choices.

“Nothing is set in stone,” academic counselor Luis Mashek said. “[Students] can always go into their four year plan and edit it or update it.” 

Although they may cause stress in the short term, the four-year plans are intended to reduce that anxiety in the long term.

“[The map] gives ownership to the students and their families so that they feel like they have some sense of control in terms of determining what their futures will look like,” Mashek said.