Picking HS Classes

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

As a high school to college specialist, I constantly get the question, "What should I take in HS to be prepared for college?" The truth is that most of the work you do in HS is for your HS. It is not intended to prepare one for college. HS classes are mostly aimed at meeting a state mandate. Colleges have long complained about the disconnect between what is taught in HS and what is needed in college. Honors Classes, PreAP, AP, IB? Looks good if you are in the top 10% of your AP or IB class, otherwise these are just busywork!


Being stuck at home doing online classes 8 hours a day is the perfect opportunity to cut the cord and focus your HS on what really matters: GPA, Essay Writing, & Personal Exploration.


Ideal High School Schedule


9th - Freshman

English 1 - Take any reading/writing program that focuses on paragraph mastery

Math 1 - Take Algebra 1 or higher, but only if the student has proven pre-algebra mastery

Science 1 - Take Intro to Biology or Integrated Physics & Chemistry (IPC)

History 1 - Take any World History plus a bit of Geography. AP HUG. Exam is optional

Foreign Language 1 - Take 1 year of any FL that excites the student. Consider ASL or Latin

Fine Art - Take one semester of any type of art. Second semester is an elective

PE - Take one semester of any sport, health, dance, cheer, etc. Second semester is elective

Electives - Taking 1-2 electives per year is ideal. These should be fun or easy GPA boosters


10th - Sophomore

English 2 - Stick with literature but progress to the next level of essay writing (essays)

Math 2 - Take Geometry or higher. Repeat or extend courses as needed to assure mastery

Science 1 - Take Integrated Phy/Che (IPC). Avoid full year Chem. or Physics

History 2 - Take American History or HIST 1 & 2 at Dual Credit

Foreign Language 2 - Take 1 more year in the same language you did last year

Fine Art - Take one semester of any type of art. Second semester is an elective

PE - Take one semester of any sport, health, dance, cheer, etc. Second semester is elective

Electives - Taking 1-2 electives per year is ideal. These should be fun or easy GPA boosters


11th - Junior

English 3 - Take ENGL Comp 1 & ENGL Comp 2 via dual credit

  • This will be 2 semestes of dual credit

  • Taking the AP Lang. Comp. Exam is optional for good testers

  • Intro to Public Speaking and Literature via dual credit are a solid replacement

Math 3 - Take College Prep Math or Business Math

  • Goal is to pass the PSAT with 520 or better or

  • Place in the top 20% of your state's college math placement exam

  • Algebra 2, Trig, and PreCalc should only be taken for engineering pathway

Science 3 - One semester of any lab-based science

  • Choose a non-Science Major version such as Intro to Chemistry or Physics

  • The other semester of science can be an elective or another dual credit science

History 3 - One semester of US GOVT & Macroeconomics via dual credit

  • This can be split up over 11th & 12th grades

Foreign Language 3 - Done, but may continue as desired.

  • Take matching CLEP if you continue

Fine Art - Not req'd. One semester of any type of art that motivates the student is optional

PE - Not req'd. One semester of any type of PE that motivates or keeps the student healthy is optional

Electives - Taking 1-2 electives per year is ideal. Explore subjects that could lead to a career


12th - Senior

English 4 - Take any writing, literature, speech, or humanities class of choice via dual credit

  • If ENGL Comp 1 & 2 has been completed via dual credit then English 4 is flexible

Math 4 - Take one semester minimal of any dual credit math

  • College Algebra or Math for Business are the more ideal choices

  • Intro to Statistics or General Math are great options for non-mathy students

  • Consider doing two semesters of math in dual credit and being done with college math

Science 4 - One semester of any lab-based science

  • Choose a non-Science Major version

  • Consider Intro to Biology (which is now "Advanced Biology")

  • Consider Environmental Science, Geology, Astronomy, Archeology, etc

  • Two semesters of dual credit science is all you will ever need for college unless you are a science or engineering major!

History 4 - Take any one of the following that has not already been completed

  • Dual credit HIST before Civil War

  • Dual credit HIST after Civil War

  • Dual credit US GOVT

  • Dual credit MacroEconomics

  • Dual credit Psychology (if you are likely to need it for your college major)

Foreign Language 4 - Done, but if you continue, take the matching AP Exam

Fine Art - Not req'd. One semester of any type of art that motivates the student is optional

PE - Not req'd. One semester of any type of PE that motivates or keeps the student healthy is optional

Electives - Taking 1-2 electives per year is ideal. Explore subjects that could lead to a career

LDDP - Ideal
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