Spring is the time when high school students schedule their classes for next year. But what classes does your child need to take to wow the college admissions staff? Do they really need to take that fourth year of French? AP Calculus?
While the high school transcript is only one piece of the college admissions decision, it is the most important piece. Unless your child is enrolled in an IB program, which follows a set course of classes, they will need to decide how rigorous their schedule will be. A general rule of thumb is to take five solid academic courses a year in English, math, social studies, science and foreign language.
But how many of these should be Advanced Placement (AP) or honors classes? Generally, colleges like to see a student who takes on a challenge. Advanced courses require additional homework and students who can manage time wisely.
How many advanced courses to schedule in a semester should depend on your child’s interests and what other activities they are involved in. If your child excels in science, but struggles in English, taking advanced courses in science and regular English classes may make sense. A ‘C’ in an AP class will not impress the college admissions staff. Additionally, a good science student could double up on advanced course like anatomy or pre-engineering.
While, many students have completed the bulk of their high school’s graduation requirements at the end of their junior year, this does not mean they should take two open periods. An easy senior year is a thing of the past and a strong senior schedule will prepare students for the rigors of college (by tania). It will also impress the college admissions staff.
Your child’s guidance counselor and teachers can be a valuable source of information regarding class selection. Researching a favorite college will also be helpful as there are minimum admissions and college major requirements.
It is important to remember that with over 4,000 colleges in the US, only a small percentage of these are highly selective and require a near perfect transcript. When your child schedules their classes for next year they should ask themselves “ what is the most rigorous schedule that I can be successful at?”