Decisions, decisions

Bryan Geary
Course selection and making the most of SPS

Step into a classroom at St. Paul’s School, and you never know where your education may go. Start with an interest in artificial intelligence and robotics, and you may find yourself next taking a class on the African Diaspora. Come to St. Paul’s an athlete and leave it an artist.
 
The School’s 363 courses range from staples of the high school curriculum, such as biology and pre-calculus, to eclectic electives like Poetry and Prophets of Judaism and Story to Screen. Students focused in one particular subject area can drill down and conduct a hand-tailored independent study to continue their discovery.
 
“It’s kind of remarkable,” says Dean of Studies Lori Bohan, who works with faculty, students, and parents to oversee the School’s course offerings. “Our selection and the range of classes that we offer means that there’s something for everyone. Being here and being surrounded by peers from all over the world and from all walks of life while being able to choose from all these classes you never thought about is a great opportunity.”
 
St. Paul’s School allows students to explore their interests and dive into many different areas of study. The structure of the academic year is designed to make this possible, she says, by operating in trimesters rather than semesters and, as a result, offering increased opportunity for exploration. It’s the kind of flexibility that can take students to places they never thought they would go. Bohan cites an example of one student who took the School’s astronomy elective on a whim and loved it so much that they ended up earning a Ph.D. in the subject.
 
“I want our students to be able to go to college having had an exposure to a range of courses and know that they have a solid background in all different subject areas,” Bohan says. “I want us to be inspiring curiosity in our students.”
 
The many available options pose an inherent challenge as students navigate their choices. While this is an excellent obstacle to have, Bohan urges students to approach their course selection decisions, which are due next month, with purpose, explaining that their choices guide what courses the School offers and at what times.
 
One aspect of Bohan’s job is walking new families through the academic choices available upon their child’s admission to the School, and it is something she relishes. She recalls seeing many new students beaming with excitement at the opportunities in front of them. “It’s a big part of why families choose St. Paul’s,” she says. “Education in the fullest sense.”
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