Course Selection and Scheduling

For more information about class scheduling, please contact:

Robyn Washburn, registrar
503-297-1894, ext. 4004

Registering for Courses

Students may take as few as four or as many as six academic courses at any one time. In unusual circumstances, a student may petition the faculty to take more than six. Academic courses include English, history, math, science, modern language, computer science, and the arts. Re-enrolling students register for courses early in the spring term. After conferring with the advisor regarding recommended courses and graduation requirements, students take a preliminary schedule home for discussion with parents. Course offerings are sometimes based upon student needs brought to light by the registration process. Adjustments in teaching assignments are sometimes necessary, and the resulting information is compiled for the academic schedule by the registrar.

During the admission process, prospective students indicate their choice of modern language, and computer and arts classes. Those choices, along with transcript information, enable the departments and registrar to forecast an academic program for each newly enrolled student; the forecast is sent home for approval.

Conflicts between courses do sometimes arise, and students are encouraged to participate in resolving the problem.

Changing Courses

Students wishing to change their programs may arrange to do so when they sign up for the following year or within the first week of each new term. An "add/drop" slip is required to record each schedule change to:

  • Add or drop a scheduled class
  • Change from credit to audit or independent status
  • Drop any discipline

Students must participate in the class they are arranging to drop (attend the class and do required work) until they have obtained signatures from the teachers involved as well as from their advisor and the Upper School head, and until the course teacher has been notified of the change by the registrar. If a student is dropping a discipline, the parent's signature is required to complete the drop procedure, as well as a college counselor's signature of approval in the case of juniors and seniors.


Independent Studies

In rare cases, when a student has exhausted our program of offerings in a subject, she or he may propose an independent study in a topic of interest. Independent studies do not count toward departmental requirements and are not commonly scheduled. A student who is interested in taking an independent study should consult with his or her academic advisor, the department chair, and a faculty member who would supervise the experience. Students applying for an independent study are required to write a proposal and submit it with an "Independent Study Contract" form, available through the Registrar. The Upper School Head gives final approval for all independent study applications.

Independent Study in the Arts

Independent study in the arts is for students to extend their learning beyond the two-year arts requirement of the Upper School. It is not possible to substitute a non-Catlin Gabel arts course for something already offered in the curriculum to meet academic requirements. For example, it is not possible to take a beginning acting course at the NW Children's Theater for academic credit at Catlin Gabel. It is the school's belief that engagement in two years of on-campus arts experiences furthers our mission to educate the "whole student" and enables students to build a well-rounded understanding of themselves as artists, learners, and community members.


The arts department offers two types of independent study. The first is a school-faculty facilitated study where the student pursues learning in an arts discipline that goes beyond current course offerings. Past examples have included honors visual arts students who wish to add portfolio-relevant ceramics to their portfolio and pursue study with the ceramics instructor, or a filmmaking student who wishes to produce a documentary on a topic of their choosing in partnership with a Catlin Gabel media instructor. For the majority of these students, their commitment to deepening their knowledge in an arts area and/or exploring new terrain requires the student to write a prospectus, research an area of study, and maintain an ongoing commitment to studio practice or rehearsal in collaboration with Catlin Gabel faculty. These students are thus awarded a full academic credit.

The second opportunity is a faculty-supervised pursuit of advanced study in the arts outside of Catlin Gabel. Typically students engaged in advanced instrumental study seek this option. Occasionally a student may pursue something outside the academic curriculum along the lines of darkroom photography. These students generally practice their artform with an organization outside of school, and the level of their in-school engagement is limited to a periodic check-in with a supervising faculty and two community performances or exhibitions per calendar year. For these students, they may earn .5 credit per academic year. Any student engaged in an independent study is required to maintain a weekly blog, documenting their work in process in order to remain metacritical about their artistic growth and to maintain transparency with supervising faculty.

Finally, individual teachers have the right to decline to supervise an independent study if a student's proposal does not fall within one of the two paradigms above and/or if supervision or instruction of the independent study takes the instructor appreciably beyond their teaching load.


An independent preschool through 12th grade day school in Portland, Oregon
8825 SW Barnes Road,
Portland, Oregon 97225 |
503-297-1894 |

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