An Eligible College Student must make the most of their time During School Hours. This includes strategic planning to make sure you are meeting both High School Graduation and College Admission’s Academic Requirements, which is another complicated subject.
You need to make strategic decisions regarding your class schedule, which involves assessing your interests/strengths vs. both High School’s and Colleges’ academic requirements, as well as considering how the rigor of your classes will impact your GPA and how much you learn. See Take Challenging Courses, Get Good Grades and Grades and Test Scores – How Do I Fix This? for more on this topic.
CHOOSE YOUR CLASSES WITH YOUR HIGH SCHOOL COUNSELOR
A smart students meets with their High School counselor before they even begin High School, to make sure they select the right classes for their Freshman year. If some of your classes are only one semester long, then you should meet again with your counselor shortly into your Freshman year’s first semester to finalize your second semester’s classes. Then you meet with your counselor again shortly into your second semester of Freshman year to make a plan for the next 3 years. Those plans may change, but it’s important to plan beyond the coming year, when deciding which classes to take. After Freshman year, at a minimum, you should meet with your high school counselor towards the end of each year’s second semester, to discuss your plans for the coming year’s classes.
My daughters attended a public high school, where High School counselors had a large work load. Regardless, my daughter’s High School counselor suggested she meet with her every month of her Junior year. This is because Junior year is crunch time – applications will be completed early in the Senior year. Not only did these regular meetings prevent items from slipping through the cracks, it allowed my daughter to demonstrate that she was an organized student who respected the importance of making good decisions in High School in order to be prepared for College. It also demonstrated good traits to her Counselor, who will be writing a Letter of Recommendation to Colleges where she applies. See Establish a Relationship With Your Counselor for more reasons why you need to take advantage of this helpful resource.
MEET HIGH SCHOOL’S ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS
If you choose to participate in any extra during-school-hours programs such as Band, Orchestra, or Robotics, that removes one time slot in your class schedule for electives. If you choose to take an English, Math, Science, History and Language class each semester, there may not be a lot of room for optional classes. You may feel you have plenty of academic time, but that academic time goes by very quickly – you might not be able to take all of the classes you want. Likewise, you will be struggling to fulfill your High School’s 4 years of English requirement if you didn’t take any English during your Freshman year. You have to plan ahead! If you have high interest/achievement in a particular subject, you might decide to think outside the box, taking additional classes on-line or at a nearby Community College or College. Your High School Counselor will help you navigate this process; make a point of taking advantage of this useful resource, and don’t forget Word-of-Mouth.
MEET COLLEGE’S ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS
When planning your course schedule, it is important to consider Colleges’ minimum requirements for courses, which varies by College – they will set standards for how many years of certain subjects they require of applicants. An easy way to understand a College’s academic expectations is through collegedata.com. Type in the name of a school, choose the Admission tab and scroll down to High School Units Required or Recommended of Students. These standard can change rapidly, so there may be a lag between a new policy and an accurate representation on the internet. If you have your heart set on a particular college, it’s a good idea to check with that college’s Admissions office to confirm their course requirements for your application year. Also keep in mind that the requirements are a minimum. While a College might require students to take a minimum of 3 math classes, they will likely want to see more if you are interested in a major that is math-oriented.
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