Although next fall probably seems a long way off, many schools will soon have their students select courses for next year. Juniors, this is an especially important time for you, as colleges will look closely at the classes you take in your final year of high school. Here are some tips for choosing your courses:
- Make sure you’re fulfilling all graduation requirements. Before signing up for classes, you should meet with your counselor to review your school’s graduation requirements. Which ones have you already met and which do you still need to meet? Make sure you sign up for classes that will meet those remaining requirements. The last thing you want to have happen is to find out next spring that you can’t graduate because you didn’t take a certain class.
- Senior year is not a time to slack off. Many students pile on the difficult classes in their junior year, thinking this is the most important year from a college admissions standpoint. While that’s not actually the case — colleges care about the classes you take and the grades you earn in all your years of high school — it’s tempting to view senior year as a break. In reality, colleges want to see you finish strong by continuing to take challenging courses in twelfth grade. However, if you feel that you overloaded yourself this year, it’s ok to downsize the number of AP/honors/advanced courses you take next year.
- It is a time to pursue your passions. Perhaps there’s an elective you’ve always wanted to take but have never been able to fit it into your schedule. Since this will be your last year (hopefully), now is the time to take it! So go ahead, sign up for choir or ceramics or philosophy. Just remember that when you get your schedule for next year, you’ll need to make sure one of those fun classes isn’t taking the place of a class you need for graduation.
- Leave time for college applications. Unless you get all of your essays and applications done over the summer, you need to allot time to work on them during the fall. As a former high school counselor, I used to tell rising seniors that they should think of their college applications as a class, because that’s how much time most students need to spend on them. If you’ve never before had a study hall, you might want to request one in the fall of your senior year so you can use that time to work on your applications. If your school allows students to have “off periods”, and you’re able to get one, don’t think of it as free time; think of it as college application work time.
Hopefully, if you follow these suggestions, by the end of your senior year you’ll have met all your school’s graduation requirements, gotten to take some fun classes, and been admitted to the college of your choice. For more information about choosing your courses, see my blog post about transcripts.