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How to Pick High School Classes

Last updated August 11, 2021

It’s complicated to figure out which classes to take in high school. Not only do you have to navigate your school’s requirements and college expectations, but you also want to think about your own interests, abilities, and future. If you're wondering what classes to take in high school, this guide should be a great launching point to figuring out your own personal plan. When you have an idea of what classes you'd like to take, make an appointment with your counselor to make sure your choices will work.

Take the core classes required to graduate. 

High schools have a list of required credits that must be taken during the four years. Typically, you should take courses in English, science, math, the social sciences, and foreign language each year. This helps you stay on track for graduation! 

Know the admissions guidelines for your top college choices. 

Many colleges, especially the selective ones, have specific admissions requirements for entering students. For example, multiple years of a foreign language may be a requirement. It is best to research each school individually. 

Do create a rigorous – yet balanced – schedule. 

Don’t try to stack your schedule with all challenging classes. Maybe limit yourself to no more than three Advanced Placement classes at a time. Remember to mix in classes for creativity, interest, or just fun.

Pursue passion interests. 

It’s OK to take courses of personal interest like film-making or fashion, just make sure it is not at the expense of graduation requirements. Whatever electives you choose make sure it’s an actual interest and not a way to avoid taking other necessary classes.

Do not catch "senioritis"! 

Many admissions offices will check an applicant’s senior year program and performance before offering admission. Additionally, schools may rescind an acceptance if a student performed poorly during the senior year. See your work through from beginning of freshman year to end of senior year.

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