It will be here before you know it; you will be handed a booklet, or given a website to view, and told to pick your courses for next year. This can cause the common “deer in the headlights” look. How do you even begin? In this previous blog, we outlined some common questions that students have when selecting their courses for the following year so be sure to read that, but in this blog, we will give step-by-step directions for how to make the best decisions about course selection for you.
1. Gather information
This is one situation where the more information the better. Talk with teachers, parent, counselors, and, if necessary, department heads to get a full picture of what each class is like. What are the prerequisites? What is the homework load? Would your current teacher recommend it?
2. Review requirements (graduation, college admissions)
It’s extremely important that you follow all the rules of your high school so you can graduate on time. Don’t forget to take a required elective, for instance. Also, most colleges have requirements for admission. The general guideline is 4 years of Math, English, Science, History/ Social Studies and 3 years of Foreign Language. Some colleges have more stringent requirements, some have less, but if you have particular colleges in mind, make sure that you are meeting their requirements as well.
Choosing high school courses requires a lot of balance. Just because you can take 4 AP courses doesn’t mean you should. You may be smart enough to take them all, but when adding up the required hours of homework, plus any sports or extracurriculars, and other commitments, it just might be too much. It’s great to push yourself, a little, but not too much. More on that in this previous blog post.
4. Choose back-ups
High schools do often set certain limits on course sizes. And they may only be able to offer one period of French 4, for example. It can take a lot of shifting and maneuvering on the part of the school to get schedules right. And, sometimes it isn’t perfect. Think about a back-up plan in case you don’t get your first choice classes.
5. Be creative if necessary
To follow up on the previous tip, if you can’t get the perfect schedule, why not be creative!? Some high schools are more open to this than others, but there may be course offerings online or at a local college you can take for dual credit (high school and college). You may be able to do an internship or work-study for high school credit. You may be able to be a teacher-assistant. You may be able to find a teacher who is willing to teach the class you want as an independent study. This can take a lot of organization and independence, but colleges like those qualities.
One of the advantages of working with Campus Bound is that we work directly with our clients to help them choose the most appropriate high school courses in order to fulfill their college admission goals. Please reach out to us if you feel we could help.