Should Your Student Take Harder High School Classes, or Play It Safe?
By Kendell Shaffer
High GPA’s are essential in today’s college admissions climate. Some student’s instincts might tell them to take easy classes, those they know they’ll do well in so they will end up with all A’s. Not a bad strategy except that the admissions directors would disagree.
Colleges want to see rigor. When reviewing an application, one of the first things college admissions directors do is check the courses offered in your student’s high school. They will want to see if your student is taking advantage of the courses offered. They can tell the difference between a straight A student who has taken an easy route and the B student who has loaded up their schedule with honors or AP classes. From what I hear, colleges would prefer the latter.
Not every school offers AP classes or honors classes. So how can the colleges fairly compare students from different types of schools? The colleges are familiar with high school honors programs in the different and can weigh them evenly. If your child wants to be a journalism major and the college sees they did not take an honors writing class that was offered in the school, they may determine that the student might not be as interested in journalism as they claim to be.
Suggest to your child when they select classes for the fall that they take the most advanced classes that are in sink with what they want to major in in college. But make sure they do not take on too many honors or AP classes that might overload their schedule and causes stress. Balance is important. If your student is stronger in science than in English, then an AP in science is a good idea, maybe not the AP in English.
Electives are important too. Colleges want to see a well rounded student and one that takes advantage of what the school has to offer. They’d like to see that the student can balance their academics with being on a sports team or in the high school musical. They’d also like to see that they participate in clubs or perhaps student government.
High school is the time for students to explore their interests as well as academics. So encourage both. Besides, the student will perform better in their academics if they also have physical and creative outlets.