Preparing for College: Your Freshman Year Schedule

Learn what your schedule might look like for freshman year if you’re serious about preparing for college.

Your first year of high school is an excellent time to begin preparation for college. It may seem early, but choosing a class schedule focused on college preparation will help you lay a good foundation – no matter what your final college plans are.

An example: there are several subjects colleges will want you to study all four years of high school, such as math, English, history, science and possibly even a foreign language. Many of these classes will be required by your high school. But there are also some choices you can make.

There is no such thing as the “perfect” schedule. There are many routes to college, and your high school can surely offer guidance.

If you’re serious about college planning, which classes should you be taking freshman year?

Here are some suggestions for what a freshman year schedule might include in order to prepare for the rigors and expectations of college.

Freshman Year Math

When it comes to mathematics, high school requirements and curricula will vary from school to school. Some high schools will begin with geometry; others will begin with some form of algebra.

Algebra is often broken down into parts, including Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 and Algebra 2. Some schools offer slower and faster tracks in algebra. Students focused on college preparation should try to take the accelerated courses that will allow room for Calculus in their junior or senior year. At the very least, you will need to complete all levels of algebra and geometry to succeed on standardized tests and in college math courses.

Freshman Year English

For college preparation, it’s essential to take English all four years of high school. This shouldn’t be too hard. In general, most high schools will require four year of English to graduate. Honors English, if you have the option to take it, will provide a greater challenge and help you develop the critical thinking and writing skills you’ll need to excel in college. Most colleges also look for both British and American literature courses on your high school transcript, so if you’re studying one of these subjects, you’re on the right track.

Freshman Year Science

High schools have different science requirements for freshmen, but the most common is either biology or physics. Enroll in an honors course if possible, and be attentive. You will learn many of these subjects in more detail in Advanced Placement courses or in college, so it helps to have a basic understanding of the fundamentals before moving on.

Freshman Year Social Studies and History

Social Studies options at your high school will vary, but it’s important to gain a solid grasp on both U.S. and world studies. Many high schools require U.S. history for all incoming freshmen, or a course in geography. If you don’t take a history course your freshman year, plan to take one sophomore year. Social studies courses demonstrate an essential knowledge of culture and history.

Freshman Year Foreign Language

For college preparatory students, it’s highly advisable to sign up for a foreign language course freshman year. If you have already begun studying a foreign language, continue with it! Most colleges have foreign language requirements, and consistent dedication to a language will exhibit a willingness to push your education to the next level. If you start your language study freshman year, you’ll be able to advance to a high-level class by the time you are a senior. This will both impress some college admissions offices – and possibly let you test out of your college’s foreign language requirement.

Arts and Other Electives

Enrolling in courses in the arts shows creativity and is a great way to expand your academic experience. It’s a good idea to have at least a few creative courses on your transcript by the time you’re a senior, and if you play an instrument or sing, several years of music is a great way to show dedication! Other electives, such as media or journalism classes, are sometimes not available until junior or senior year of high school. Don’t worry…you’ll get your chance.

Your Freshman Year Schedule: Tips and Tactics

  • Don’t get bogged down in planning for college prep your freshman year. Have an overall plan but don’t sweat the details.
  • A good freshman schedule will be challenging but well balanced. If you know you’re focused on college preparation, taking honors courses can certainly illustrate how hard working you are, but never overload your schedule beyond what you can handle. You’ll want to maintain good grades as well.
  • There is no such thing as the “perfect” schedule. There are many routes to college, and your high school can surely offer guidance, once you’ve indicated that college is important to you.

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