College Applications

Guide to Course Selection

As course scheduling for next year is coming up in high schools across the country, I thought it would be a great time to focus on what to consider when planning your schedule.



1. Pre-requisites

There are two things to consider here. The first is, what courses do you need to take now to take the courses you want in the future? For example, you might need to take honors chemistry instead of regular chemistry in order to take AP biology.

The other thing to consider is, do I have the pre-requisites for this course? If you didn’t take geometry, your school might not let you take algebra II. Check the requirements, and if you’re not sure, ask your guidance counselor.

2. Previous coursework

What courses have you taken in the past? If you’ve taken mainly regular courses, maybe signing up for AP Physics isn’t in your best interest. If you struggled in AP US History, reconsider AP European History. Challenge yourself, but consider your strengths and weaknesses.

3. Rigor

Colleges want to see you challenge yourself. After taking two years of honors courses, try an AP course or two. After taking several regular courses, try a few honors courses. Keep in mind what courses you performed well in previously.

4. College credit

Do you want college credit for your courses? If so, take some dual enrollment or AP courses. But first, check the policies at your prospective colleges. Some limit the amount of credit you can transfer or only take certain courses. Also, if you feel that you can’t pull off a 4 or 5 on an AP exam, it might not be worth the time and money.

5. Hidden Opportunities

There may be some great programs that you just don’t know about. At my school, there were a lot of opportunities available to students that many were unaware of.

Some students were able to have a half day of classes and work the rest of the day. Some spent a half day at a trade school. Others did a pre-med program that allowed them to take college science courses and job shadow at various healthcare facilities in the area. In terms of dual enrollment, there were free options at local universities in addition to the low-cost community college. A couple students self-studied an AP class that was not available at our school and earned credit for it. Also, students could take online classes that weren’t offered at our school to earn credit and free up space in their schedule.

These are just the options available to students at my small public high school. After talking to many other students, I realized that a large portion of them had no idea these opportunities were available to them!


The best thing you can do is talk to your counselor.  Bring up your plans for after high school because your counselor may have suggestions to get you there. Also, talk to other students, especially upperclassmen, to get an idea on the opportunities available to you.

Don’t forget to use the links at the bottom of the page to share this post and check out some of my other posts on college applications!


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