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The type of classes you take in high school can actually help you develop the skills and perspective you will need to succeed in college.
Preparing for college starts in 8th grade with the classes you choose to take your first semester of 9th grade. Most colleges expect students to have had a coursework core of at least 3 years of math, 4 years of English, 3 years of history, 3 years of science, and 2 years of foreign language. The better colleges, though, have higher standards for math, science, and foreign languages.
The more selective colleges will want students to have had four years of math. Algebra 1, geometry, algebra 2, trigonometry, and pre-calculus make up a typical math sequence. The same holds true for science as well. A recommended science track would include a physical science (geology, for instance), biology, chemistry, and physics.
Doing well in challenging honors, advanced placement (AP), and international baccalaureate (IB) courses looks great on high school transcripts and in some cases can be used as credit toward college classes. In this way, advanced classes taken in high school can lighten the course load in college and can help you graduate earlier, depending on the number of advanced classes you took. Advanced classes typically help students develop the ‘muscle’ for college level work.
College success requires maturity, independence, and determination. College students are routinely faced with the challenging situations that require time management, good decision-making, and problem solving. High school coursework can be a springboard for all these things.
For instance, math helps you expand your ability to think critically and use complex reasoning to solve problems. Like math, science can help develop analytical skills. History helps you with critical reading as well as with research and writing skills.
Taking progressively harder core academic classes is a wonderful way to get ready for the rigors of college studies. Start early and build on your successes with each year. Many students take increasingly difficult classes their first three years of high school, then take easy classes in their senior year. Doing this can send the wrong message to college admissions offices.
Prepare for success in college by pushing yourself as far as you can go while in high school.
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