College Pete

Are You Sure That You’re Choosing the Right Courses in High School?

Are You Sure That You’re Choosing the Right Courses in High School?

No disrespect to our Northern readers, but it was a gorgeous 72 degrees and sunny this weekend, and Jill and I took full advantage.  A little tennis, a run at the park, followed by the hometown food and wine festival (as our reward for the former).  It was a blast… with just a few minor uncomfortable moments with some folks who might have had a little too much ‘food’ at the festival.

First there was this question, “Hey College Pete, what the heck is AICE and do we (in the royal sense) really have to take it?…

Or this, “.. what’ the ‘bleep’ is the ‘bleepin’” difference between AP and IB anyway?…

And finally, : Can you please tell our son {who was definitely not yet in high school} that he willnot be able to go to a great college without taking Algebra II honors in 9th grade?… Well, that’s what we heard…

Those of us with children either in or entering high school next year can certainly relate. After all, at many high schools February is course selection month.  Over the coming days and weeks, many of our high school students will be selecting their courses for the next year.

If you are like most parents, you’re probably confused and frustrated by the endless array of choices, conflicting information and acronyms.

And you’re under a lot of pressure. For good reason. The transcript is arguably going to be the most important component of your child’s college application (notice I didn’t say GPA).  Making the right course selections and ensuring that your student is on the right educational path is therefore arguably the most important responsibility.  Unfortunately, choosing classes is not as easy as it used to be. There are more course options (and more acronyms) in high school than ever before.  And really who knows what’s better between AICE critical thinking or AP English?

Well, we’ve posed this question to our friends and colleagues in Admissions at colleges all across the country. We then shared what they told us with our clients and members in a live 40-minute webclass and Q/A this Fall (Admissions 101:  Criteria for Admissions at America’s Selective Colleges).

In the simplest terms, we know that colleges are looking for students who have taken and done well in the most contextually relevant (as in consistent with their demonstrated intellectual interests), rigorous classes available to them. Generally speaking, to be considered at the most competitive schools, you should try to take courses each year in each of the core subjects (English, science, math, social sciences, and foreign language). That said, this is a personal process and each situation is unique.

We encourage all of our students to become familiar early on with the requirements at the cohort of colleges that they are likely to be considering later in high school – and then act accordingly.


Peter (and Jill) Ratzan

P.S. Once again, to learn more about what Admissions Officers are looking for and how your high school education plan can affect your chances for acceptance and funding, then you should come hear us speak this month.

If you want to get more of your questions answered, pick up your Amazon copy of our new book NOT! Your Parents College Plan.

P.P.S.  Remember, sharing is caring.  Forward this blog to a friend or colleague…they’ll thank you for it!


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