Selecting High School Classes Wisely

Be Smart: Meet College Requirements

portrait of young female student at school classroom

Selecting the high school courses that will best enhance a college application should not be done haphazardly, or hastily. As the college admissions process becomes ever more competitive, students need to be mindful of what will ultimately wind up on their transcripts.   Here we’ve provided a how-to guide for making smart decisions about which high school classes need to be taken.

Cover the Basics

Colleges and universities want applicants to have completed math through Calculus, along with significant Lab Science courses, including Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.  English or Language Arts should also be taken every year, in effort to improve vital skills including writing, reading comprehension and vocabulary. Years of Foreign Language study should also be a priority for high school students.  Likewise, students should also take Social Studies classes covering U.S. history, U.S. Government, World History, and Geography.   Finally, in order to have a well-rounded college application, students should take at least a couple of semesters of Fine Arts courses, such as music, drama, art, or dance.   Going above and beyond these courses is certainly not going to hurt, but these basic courses must be taken by all high school students planning to attend college. 

Advanced Courses Go a Long Way

When available, AP or Honors Classes should be included in a high school class schedule.  College admissions officers like to see candidates who are unafraid to challenge themselves, as opposed to those who choose to take the easy road to graduation.  In fact, many schools favor a slightly lower grade in more challenging courses, over better grades in easier classes.

Check College Requirements

The College Board allows students to confirm specific requirements of all colleges and universities, through their  College Search.  By checking specific requirements ahead of time, students will ensure that all admissions requirements are met, rather than finding out at the 11th hour that they failed to take a required class.

Follow Your Passion When Picking Electives

High school students should focus the majority of their attention on five core academic courses (Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Foreign Languages) every semester.  Elective courses however, should reflect students’ personal interests or passions. In instances where a student has a strong passion in an area of study that is not available at the high school, it is smart to see if any courses in that field of study are available at local or community colleges.  

When it comes to selecting courses that should be taken in high school, it is smart to spend time in the planning stage, to yield well-rounded and well-received transcripts at colleges and universities.  Make sure the basics are covered, in addition to showcasing a willingness to take challenging courses.  Beyond that, pursue additional areas of study with a passion, so that your transcript showcases a commitment to success, along with a curious mind.

Vogel Prep Educational Services offers offer a variety of small group classes and one-on-one tutoring services that not only boost your student’s grades, SAT, ACT, and/or AP performance, but also sets students up for future success in college, and beyond.