Making the Most of Your High School Schedule

In high school, you’ll likely take classes in the five core subject areas: English, math, science, history/social sciences, and a language other than English. 

You may not be required to take a class in each of these areas in every grade, but we strongly recommend that you do. Why? That’s what most college admissions officers are looking for — and it’s what shows them you’re ready for what’s to come in college.  

So how do you make the most of your high school schedule?

Plan Ahead

As early as ninth grade, you should begin thinking about what classes you’ll take over the next four years. It’s important to know what your high school requires you to take to graduate. But, here are a few more things to consider:

  1. Do any classes have prerequisites (or requirements before taking them)? For instance, if you’re interested in taking biology your junior year, then check to see if you’re required to take a general or introductory science class first.
  2. What classes are required by colleges? Perhaps your high school requires only three years of English, but colleges are looking for you to take four years. What do you do? You’ll want to take the classes that will get you into college!
  3. What do you (maybe) want to study in college? If you know you want to study mathematics, for example, then you might find out which math classes are required by colleges — and take as many math classes as you can during high school.

Challenge Yourself

In each of the core subject areas, most high schools offer different class levels, including regular, honors, and college. You’ll want to take classes at a level that not only challenges you to learn something new but also prepares you for college. So which one is right for you?

  1. Honors-level classes cover the same material as regular classes, but move along at a faster pace or cover the material in more depth.
  2. College-level classes, like those offered through the College Board’s AP program, not only move at a faster pace and cover more material, but also focus on developing important reading and writing as well as problem-solving skills.

Tip: When you take an AP class, you can take the AP exam in that subject area in the spring. The AP exam is offered by the College Board (not by your teacher and not for a class grade), and depending on your score, you may receive college credit.

  1. Some high schools allow students to take actual college courses (for college credit!) either at the high school or local college campus.

Get Advice

Remember: You’re not in this alone! Your school counselors are there to help you plan your high school schedule — and get you on the path to college success. Be sure to meet with them regularly to ask the following:

  1. Am I taking the right classes to graduate from high school?
  2. Are these the classes I should take to get into college?
  3. Should I take an honors or AP class?
  4. What other classes would you recommend to me? 

And don’t forget to ask the other trusted adults in your life — teachers, parents, or coaches, just to name a few! 

We’d also recommend checking out these helpful articles over at BigFuture by the College Board:

Additional Resources
Take advantage of all that we have to offer! With MyCoalition, you can store important high school documents and files in your digital Locker, ask for input from trusted family and friends, and even apply to schools with one easy-to-use application.   

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