Course Selection: Finding the Perfect Balance

Spring is in the air and it is the time of year most high schools begin the course selection process, with students deciding what classes they will take next year.  Here are some things to keep in mind as you help your child plan for a successful year:

How to get ahead:  Listen to teacher recommendations about areas where your child should challenge themselves and if offered, take advantage of placement tests to ensure your child lands in the right course levels.  While high school graduation requirements tend to be aligned with college admission requirements, that is not always the case. Although college may seem a long way off, start looking at college admission requirements as early as ninth grade. 

Your child’s transcript should reflect their growth as a student and their ability to forge ahead and take challenging classes.  Think about what classes they did really well in and where possible, encourage them to kick it up a notch. If they were in a college prep class earning all A’s consider an honors course in that subject area next year.  If they were in honors, consider moving up to an Advanced Placement (AP) course.  

Soon to be Seniors:  Having met most graduation requirements as they head into their final year of high school, many students think senior year is a time to relax and take a light load.  Colleges, especially the more competitive schools, are looking for continued or increased rigor senior year. This means taking another year of a world language, a fourth year of science and social studies, and another year of math.  With the exception of math and English, if one of those areas is not a favorite, then double up in another subject. For example, if your child detests social studies or plans to pursue a pre-med pathway in college, then take Human Anatomy and AP Biology to replace social studies.  The goal is to maintain five core subjects in next year’s schedule. 

How to not get in over your head:  If your child is recommended for all honors or AP  classes, think about balance. Can your child handle all honors/AP classes and still have time to see friends and participate in extracurricular activities?  

If your child has room in their schedule, have them choose an elective that either allows them to explore a possible career pathway or allows them to pursue an interest.  Think of an elective as something that will add joy to the day and fuel their passion for learning. 

As you help your child build their class schedule for next year think about everything they need to fit into their day–their activities, sports, part-time job, family responsibilities, social life, and homework/studying.  Is there enough time to fit everything in? If not, what adjustments need to be made? Balance is the key to having a happy, successful school year.

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