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A student sits in his or her guidance counselor’s office:
“Do you want to go to college?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Do you know what you want to do for a living?”
“Ok, well, based on that, you should take these classes.”
It’s tough for any guidance counselor – no matter how smart or intuitive – to formulate much of an academic plan for you if they don’t get much help. It’s also likely they’re not going to have a great deal of time to understand your needs before pointing you toward certain classes. That means you might not be very prepared for the college or career of your choice. You have to be proactive.
You have to be in charge.
Deciding What High School Classes to Take
1. Have a Goal. You don’t need to know what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life, but you should have a pretty good idea what you want to do after high school. What type of college do you think is best for you? If you’re a good student, you should think about good colleges and so on. You can choose from the prestigious Ivy League all the way down to community colleges. What level feels right to you? Once your guidance counselor knows your goal, he can suggest appropriate classes.
2. Build Classes. Make sure you leave enough time to take prerequisites. If you want to go into a math-heavy field, don’t take Algebra II junior year and expect to take Calculus senior year. The same with the sciences, languages, history, etc. Your guidance counselor knows how to build classes on top of each other, but you must make sure she knows you need to do that.
3. AP Classes. Take Advanced Placement classes in the areas that interest you most. You’ll be excited by the material if it’s going to be your major in college. And if you’re a top student, you might want to consider AP classes in other subject areas, but don’t overwhelm yourself. Play to your strengths and interests. Focus on your likely college major.
4. Electives. If your school offers electives in fields that could benefit you, sign up. Let your guidance counselor know how important those classes could be to your future. Some high-school electives are standard (such as computer science or business), but many schools offer career-oriented classes (computer aided design, horticulture, auto mechanics) or academic (psychology, philosophy, astronomy). Find electives that meet your future goals.
Padding Your College Application With Other Activities
Once you’ve selected your high-school classes, and your guidance counselor has helped you gain admission to them, check to see you if your schedule meets all of your academic and career needs. If not, you can look into volunteer activities, part-time job opportunities and classes at community colleges that interest you. As with choosing your high school classes, it’s up to you to be proactive. You need to know what you want.
Then you can rely on a college prep expert to help you reach your goals.
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