Plan Your  High School Curriculum to Maximize College Acceptance

[fa icon="calendar"] 12/5/18 6:27 AM / by Elizabeth Nielsen

It is difficult to fathom upon entering ninth grade that everything you do from that point forward matters and can mean getting into the university of your choice or not. The change feels sudden, like the ice bucket challenge. 

Gone is the complete abandon to monitoring Facebook gossip and texting or Skyping your best friend for endless hours. 

Now it is all about taking AP courses and chaining yourself to your desk from the moment you get home from school until the moment your head hits the pillow in a somewhat bizarre effort to obtain every possible “A.” Gladly, this won't be entirely necessary. However, you will need to place close attention to the classes you choose and the grades you achieve.

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Be assured that ninth grade is not the final curtain which descends on your social life and enshrouds you with contemplative scowls and nose-in-book syndrome. Instead, ninth grade is a new beginning which sheds light on your promising future. There is no need to annihilate all the fun in your high school experience. Rather, you begin gathering your ducks and placing them in an organized row. You set goals for the next four years, which will include harder classes and more study but won’t condemn your fun-loving soul to live out the next four years in the dark doldrums of the basement library.

Your best ally is your school counselor. He or she will help you with your college admission plan by forming a four-year curricular plan and guiding you along your way. Though it may not seem so, setting goals releases stress from your mind, allowing you to enjoy your social life while following up on reasonable expectations you hope to reach.

Remember that more is not always better. Though many students believe taking all AP classes is the “tour de force,” this isn’t always the case. The process is simpler than that and shouldn’t generate the fear of failure in anyone’s heart. Yes AP classes are more difficult and therefore are weighted differently. However, choose wisely. Take those you are most interested in and ace them. Avoid taking classes in which you may not do as well.

Up to this point, your education has taken shape. By now, you have an idea where you are strong and where you are weak. Capitalize on your strengths by scheduling AP classes which make the most of your talents. Since grade point average (GPA) reigns supreme, you don’t want to take AP courses in a subject you struggle with and may get a low grade. The chart below provides a suggestion for planning your high school curriculum.  

ENGLISH

(4 YEARS)

American Literature

English Literature

World Literature

Composition

HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY (2 to 3 YEARS)

Civics

Geography

U.S. History

U.S. Government

World History

MATHEMATICS

(3 to 4 YEARS, WITH 4 YEARS PREFERABLE)

Algebra I

Algebra II

Geometry

Trigonometry

Pre-Calculus

Calculus

SCIENCE (2 to 4 YEARS)

Biology

Chemistry

Earth Science

Physics

VISUAL AND PERFORMING ART (1 YEAR)

Art

Dance

Theatre

Music

FOREIGN LANGUAGE (2 YEARS)

Any foreign language available

ELECTIVES (1 to 2 YEARS)

Computer Science

Economics

Psychology

Statistics

Communications

 

 

 

The foundation from which you build your ladder to university acceptance begins with your grade point average (GPA). However, GPAs prove a bit problematic when there are differences in subject difficulty and teacher competency. This is where AP honors classes and college admissions counseling can figure in. When universities examine your class schedule and coinciding GPA, the admission committee will take into account whether you completed a standard high school curriculum or if you pushed yourself and took more difficult, AP honors classes. There is a crucial benefit to taking AP classes. Students receive a higher or "weighted GPA." This means that instead of receiving a 4.0 for an A grade, the student will receive a 5.0, and rather than receiving a 3.0 for a B grade, the student will receive a 4.0 and so on.

More On GPA Assessments

There are particular areas most colleges pay close attention to. In fact, the following guideline is very successful

  • 4 Years of English
  • 4 Years of the Same Foreign Language
  • 4 Years of Math (through at least Precalculus)
  • 4 Years of Science (including Chemistry, Biology, Physics)
  • 4 Years of History/Social Studies (including U.S. History and World History)

This limits electives. However if your goal is to get into the college of your choice, you will have a second chance to take electives once you are accepted into a university.

Though your social life will not disappear and your high school years don’t have to be spent chained to your desk and computer keyboard, you have to work and focus on your goal. You should be willing to close Facebook and skip a football game on occasion, but it doesn’t mean you will have to sacrifice your high school years.

You can receive help and guidance from parents, counselors, teachers and friends. However, only you can seek for the guidance. Only you know where you stand. Only you know what you are willing to do to reach and keep a high grade point average. Only you can do the work it will take to excel in the necessary classes. Your challenge as you traverse your ninth grade year is to seek for the right balance. This goes for 10th-12th grades as well. This may include seeking professional academic counseling. Empowerly.com is an online source which can provide a great deal of help.

Challenge but don’t overwhelm. Remember that getting Cs in any classes, especially AP courses, will get you nowhere but behind. At the same time, your social life is important to rounding yourself out as a successful college applicant and a competent adult individual.

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Topics: High School Roadmap

Elizabeth Nielsen

Written by Elizabeth Nielsen

Synocate writer.

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