Plan Your High School Curriculum for College Acceptance

Elizabeth Nielsen
Elizabeth Nielsen

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It is difficult to fathom that, upon entering ninth grade, everything you do from that point forward matters. Small choices 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, studying and class schedules take up more time. Nonetheless, Empowerly can take some of the pressure out of picking your course schedule! This article discusses how to best plan out your high school curriculum for college acceptance later down the road.

Some students view high school as entirely 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. This somewhat bizarre effort hopes 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.

Start Out on the Right Foot

Be assured that ninth grade is not the final curtain which descends on your social life. The first step onto your high school campus won’t enshroud 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, it won’t condemn your fun-loving soul to live out the next four years in the dark doldrums of the basement library.

Find Support

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! Once you have goals set, you can 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.

What Has Changed?

Up to this point, your education has taken shape as primarily foundational knowledge. 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 only to earn a low grade. The chart below provides one suggestion for planning a successful 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   

Why Weighted GPA Matters

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. On the other hand, the notice if you pushed yourself and took more difficult AP honors classes. Therefore, 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.

What to Prioritize

There are particular areas most colleges pay close attention to. These usually highlight core subjects that you will need later on in life. In fact, the following guideline has proven very successful:

  • English – 4 years
  • Foreign Language – 4 years in succession
  • Math – 4 years (through at least Precalculus)
  • Science – 4 years (including Chemistry, Biology, Physics)
  • History/Social Studies – 4 years (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.

New Perspective

Remember, your social life will not disappear, and your high school years don’t have to be spent chained to your desk and computer keyboard. Nonetheless, you do 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. From there, 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. If you need additional guidance, Empowerly can provide a great deal of help.

In Summary

Challenge yourself, but don’t overwhelm things. 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. You can do this!

Questions? Let us know!