College prep starts early, and there are many important elements that factor into it. One key element is your high school schedule. And not just junior and senior years, all four. Knowing that the classes you take are important, how can you create an ideal high school class schedule that will impress admissions teams?
Academic Rigor & AP Courses
Colleges love academic rigor. By taking courses that are tougher than the average, standard classes, you show your dedication to schooling as well as an ability to study, research, learn, and produce quality assignments.
One great way to add some academic rigor to your high school class schedule is by taking AP classes. Ideally, you should take no more than two AP courses in a semester—so as to avoid burn out. Keep in mind, that a B in an AP class is still impressive, in some cases rivaling an A in more traditional courses.
Many colleges require a few years of a foreign language from their applicants. Though the requirements will fluctuate from college to college—some may need 3 years, others 4, some none at all—it’s a good idea to cover your bases by starting foreign language classes your freshman year (if not earlier).
Spanish, French, and German seem to be the most commonly taught, but in some schools, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Latin are also offered—among others, of course.
Classes About Your Intended Major
If you know what you want to study in college, start padding your education early. If you want to be an English major, take as many English-themed classes as you can. This will show admissions teams your passion as well as your dedication to a certain subject. AP classes in your intended major subject is a great idea as well.
Some high schools offer dual credit classes—college-level courses that can actually give you some credit hours that you can transfer to your future school. Not only can taking dual credit classes to boost your academic rigor, but they can also save you money in the long run. Needing fewer credit hours means taking fewer classes in college. Which means fewer textbooks and potentially even lowering your time in school.
Though academics are a fantastic (and needed) focus to have, it’s also good to round your schedule out with some other subjects and activities. Colleges like students who participate in extracurriculars (especially if they’ve been in the activity for several years).
If you have an interest in science, even if you don’t plan on majoring in it, take an extra science course. Choir and band classes can be a great addition. Wanted to dabble in art? Take an art class!
Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!