How Much Academic Rigor Should I Put Into My High School Schedule?

Flickr user Tom Woodward

When choosing your courses for high school, it can be tough to decide just how many classes or which classes you should take. Between core and elective courses, it’s important to take outside influences into account. Here are some things to consider before selecting classes to determine how much academic rigor you should put into your high school schedule.

Don’t Make Your Schedule Super Light

While you may be tempted to take only easy courses or keep it light, especially your senior year when you’ve finished most of your required classes, you want to tend to avoid this situation. Colleges want to see how you excel and will notice if you take only the minimum. You want to make sure you have your core classes each year along with strong electives.

When it comes to your senior year, try not to drop every subject you don’t “need.” While your high school may not require you to take math or a foreign language in 12th grade, you may want to take it anyway to bolster your college applications. Some colleges will actually say you don’t have to take a math course in college if you took one in your senior year of high school.

Take Electives That Interest You

While you may want to take an elective you heard was super easy, don’t take the class just because of that rumor. Instead, select courses based on what interests you. This could be biology or creative writing, or it could be a class on sociology.

When selecting these classes, take your future into account. If you have an idea of what you want to major in or a career you want to go after, take electives that will help in those areas. Your college will notice your interest when it comes to your application and major declaration.

Try Taking College or AP Courses

In your junior and senior years, your college may offer college or AP courses. Try taking these, especially in subjects you’re confident or interested in. However, don’t take too many as they can be extremely time demanding and it could hurt you in the long run.

Find Balance

While you definitely want to impress future colleges, make sure you’re realistic with yourself. If you take part in extracurricular activities, sports, or have a job after high school, you’ll want to take that into account before selecting classes. Also, don’t deny yourself your free time.

Will you have time for all these electives? Will you have time to put in the study that two or three AP courses require? Try creating a schedule now to see if it’s actually possible.

If you’re not quite sure how much academic rigor you should put into your high school schedule, talk with your counselor. They can help you find the electives that will help you in the future while also keeping your schedule manageable and realistic. While you don’t want to go light on your high school classes, you definitely don’t want to overdo it either. Finding balance is key to a successful school year.

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Hilary Cairns

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