Elective Bliss

History has long been one of my favorite subjects, so with a term of History 300 under my belt, I decided that I would enroll in an in-depth Senior seminar on the Founding Fathers this term. Never having taken six academic courses at one time, I didn’t really know what to expect. Naturally, I anticipated the heavy workload. I knew I would miss having a free period, especially when that free period would have also been a daily sleep in. But what was not as clear to at the time that I enrolled was just how much better my days would be when I could look forward to a class that I was taking simply because it interested me. Too much of our academic lives at Andover are dictated by requirements. Just because there are courses we have to take doesn’t mean that we should write our schedules off as predetermined until our Senior years. Sure, during our time at Phillips we have to take English 300, History 200 and two years of science. But why shouldn’t we also take some fun classes along the way? If an elective class is open to underclassmen, as many of them are (with certain prerequisites or other caveats), interested students would be well served to investigate the possibility of taking these classes before they become Seniors. Otherwise, by the time many students get to their last year, they are understandably exhausted from three years of taking nothing but grueling requirements. They want to fill up their schedules with the classes that have the easiest reputations (African Drumming, anyone?) in an effort to enjoy the “Senioritis” they feel they have earned. This exhaustion that comes from years of required courses ultimately undermines the appeal of electives themselves. The best way to counter this is for students to spread their electives out over the course of several years at PA instead of concentrating them into the three terms of Senior year. So despite the late nights, the hundreds of pages of reading and the all but complete destruction of my social life, I’ve had more fun this term than I have in any other during my time at Andover. I thank my elective. More students should take advantage of Andover’s varied elective offerings as early as possible in their academic careers. While PA’s required courses can certainly be engaging, the depth of information offered in elective classes far surpasses that of the cursory surveys presented in introductory level courses. And more importantly, in taking electives, students can choose to pursue the areas of study that interest them the most. The excitement that students can feel by analyzing James Joyce, stargazing in Cosmology or painting portraits brings the kind of passion for learning that we should all have as much as possible during our time at Andover—even if it takes a six-course Upper spring to have those experiences. In the end, it’s a good investment. Anabel Bacon is a three-year Upper.