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Thursday, February 12, 2015

It's High School Course Selection Time!

"Honors or AP"?
"Can I drop my Foreign Language?"
"Do I really need to take math next year?"

I hear these questions and more as current 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th graders select courses for next year. For college-bound students, the classes they choose throughout high school may have a big impact on their college search and application process. We know that colleges are looking for strong grades in challenging courses. 

Here are some important questions for students (and parents) to consider when selecting courses:
  • Will these courses provide good preparation for college-level work?
  • Are these courses challenging or is the student just taking it easy? (rising seniors should be careful when answering this one!)
  • Do my electives show a college what my interests are?
  • Will I be able to manage this course-load and still maintain involvement in the activities I am passionate about?
Personally, I think balance is the most important piece in course selection. I see too many students feeling burned-out before they step foot on a college campus. Take some time to research a few colleges to find out what they are looking for in applicants. Big Future has a nice tool to see what colleges require and recommend. To use it, enter a college name in the search box at the top of the page, then go to "Apply" and click on "Academics and GPA". Fill out the "Are You on Track" section and see if you meet the requirements of that college and the others you search. While the calculator doesn't ask about course rigor, this can be an eye-opening exercise for high school students wondering what courses they should take. Taking the time to plan now may increase opportunities down the road.