When our students ask me what classes they should be taking their junior and senior year to make them “look good” to colleges, I have a go-to answer: AP, honors, and the ones that capture their interest.
Colleges are going not just to look at your child’s GPA; they are also going to look at what classes he or she took to earn that GPA. Those classes matter, they help show the school that your student can handle the rigor of a college environment, and they demonstrate your child’s individuality.
Admission counselors always like to tell me about the class combinations they’ve seen students take, both those that have impressed them and those that haven’t. They always look core classes first because it helps them establish a baseline, but it’s those extra AP, honors and elective classes that are going to help your student rise above that baseline.
When they’re looking through applications, counselors are searching for students who have challenged themselves and proved to be dedicated. Someone who both meets the requirements and rises above them.
They want students who are pushing themselves academically with AP and honors courses. Your student’s core classes should all be academically advanced if their school offers the option. This kind of course load, however, can cause burn out if it is not handled well. Burnout, in turn, causes a drop in grades. Students have to balance their AP and honors courses. One of the best ways to do this is by exploring their interests through electives.
Are they interested in math but hate English? Encourage them to take a computer programming or business elective. On the other hand, if your child enjoys writing, try to get them to take a journalism course. By the time your child reaches their junior year, encourage them to start taking electives that relate to their intended major or field of study. The inclusion of these kinds of electives on your child’s transcript will demonstrate both your child’s interest and commitment to colleges, which will make them stand out in comparison to other students who simply took random courses.
The classes your child takes will help shape their identity and personality in the eyes of the admissions counselor. They will show the counselor your student’s interests and desires. Yes, essays do the same thing, but classes are the evidence for the essays. They prove what your student is saying in their writing.
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