With the 2017–2018 course registration process now under way, the TASIS Administration would like to remind all students and parents of an academic policy designed to prevent High School students from overextending themselves. All students who wish to take more than six classes (or 6½ if they are pursuing the International Baccalaureate Diploma) must first seek approval from High School Academic Dean Dr. Mark Abisi, who will determine if there are strong enough reasons to grant an exception to the policy.
The standard course load for an International Baccalaureate (IB) student is six full-credit classes plus Theory of Knowledge, which meets only twice per week and counts for a half credit. The full-credit classes meet four times per week, meaning an IB student must be in class for 26 of the 32 periods each week. The six remaining blocks are designated as study periods and provide these busy students—who must also contend with advisor meetings, service learning meetings, college planning courses, and after-school extracurricular activities—opportunities to complete homework or seek extra help from their teachers or tutors.
“These breaks from the classroom should not be viewed as free periods,” said Director of Studies David Jepson. “Students need this time to be successful in our challenging academic program. We don’t want to overload them with extra classes. Our program is demanding enough as it is.”
Those who are not pursuing an IB Diploma—which includes all students in grades nine and ten—must enroll in a minimum of five classes but are encouraged to take six. Anything more than that is typically not recommended and must first be discussed with Dr. Abisi.
"Too many students are overburdening themselves by trying to fill up every moment with classes,” said Dr. Abisi. “Our course registration policy was somewhat relaxed over the years because of the pressure some parents put on their children to be in class every available moment of every day, but we’ve determined that this kind of schedule is not in the best interest of our students.”
All High School course offerings at TASIS are substantial and require a significant investment of time outside of class. On average, students can expect to have 30–45 minutes of homework each night for each class, which adds up to 3–4½ hours of work per night for someone taking six classes.
“Only a very unusual student should be put in the position of having to do more than that,” said Mr. Jepson.
“It’s a misconception that taking more classes is better,” added College Counseling Director Greg Birk, who sees upperclassmen wrestle with the added stress of applying to college. “Colleges are looking at quality, not quantity. The quality of the academic challenge plus the quality of the results is what’s important.”
The renewed emphasis on this course registration policy reflects the School’s desire to help students develop a healthy school-life balance and achieve post-secondary success by performing well in a manageable number of classes. Every transcript sent to universities will be accompanied by the TASIS Academic Profile, which will state clearly that the School’s academic policy dictates that students can take a maximum of 6½ classes without special permission from the Academic Dean.