High School Academics: Planning Class Schedules
Discover which college prep courses can help prepare your child for college academics – help them have strong transcript for college admissions.
Don’t wait until your child is in his junior year of high school to start planning for college.
College planning should begin early, preferably in the student’s freshman year.
While this is probably not the time to start going on college visits, it is the right time to plan out class schedules.
To align your child’s curriculum with his interests, speak with a guidance counselor to find out other courses that will help hone his passion.
Encourage your child to establish a relationship with his high school counselor, who can usually recommend courses that can help him stand out to college admissions. College admissions boards will look at the child’s entire high school record. That means the courses taken during freshman year count just as much as courses completed during senior year.
High School Schedule
The US Department of Education recommends the following college prep courses as the minimum requirements for college admissions:
English: 4 years
A language arts course should be taken each year, as literacy and writing skills are the foundation for most college majors and careers.
Mathematics: 3 to 4 years
The SAT and ACT tests require a knowledge of algebra and geometry, so your child needs to at least complete these courses. To go beyond the minimum expectations, your high school student should also take higher-level courses such as trigonometry and calculus. This knowledge will also help with the upper-level science courses as well.
Science: 2 to 4 years
If your child doesn’t show much interest in the sciences, the bare minimum requirements include three years of laboratory such as biology, chemistry, physics or earth science. Students interested in attending the more selective colleges should also consider taking AP courses in the same subjects.
History/Geography: 2 to 3 years
College applicants should have a grasp on current events through studying what has occurred in history. Connecting the past to the present helps people understand the whole picture. Typically, students should take US history, US government or World History. Students interested in majoring in a political science or history subject in college should also take AP or other advanced history courses offered at their school.
Foreign Language: 2 to 4 years
Foreign languages prove that the student can learn more than just the basics of academics and allows him to push his academic limits.
Challenging Electives: 1 to 3 years
A course schedule loaded with electives like pottery and chorus won’t look so great unless your child is interested in art school. Courses such as computer science, business or economics will show the college admissions team that your child strives to push her academic limits.
Visual/Performing Arts: 1 year
Even if your child is not interested in a career in the arts, taking a course or two helps her to become a well-rounded individual. Plus, students who take art classes are more likely to score higher on standardized tests like the SAT.
Contact your child’s high school to learn about standard course requirements, as most school districts have a set list of courses that all students must complete for graduation. To align your child’s curriculum with his interests, speak with a guidance counselor to find out other courses that will help hone his passion.
If your child does not yet have a concrete idea of what career path she wants to pursue, encourage her to plan a well-rounded high school class schedule to help her decide which subjects she prefers.
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