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Making High School Work

Most high schools allow students to choose courses in the late winter or early spring for the following school year. This is an ideal time to talk about which courses will lead to the final goal, and which courses will help to position you for admission to the right college. Some high schools also allow students to select courses for the second semester a month or two before the semester begins. So, there may be two opportunities to review your plan of study and to make sure that you choose the right ones. Rigor is the key word.

Even students in the eighth grade have the opportunity to choose courses for high school. High school guidance counselors meet with eighth graders at various points in the year to assist them in the transition to high school. Although the middle school counselor usually plans the high school course of study, the high school counselor contributes to that process.

The National Association of College Admissions Counselors estimates that there
will be two million students entering college in the fall. Of course, more will apply. Now granted, not all of those applicants have the same goals that you have. After all, you want more from your education than a degree and a college transcript worthy of admission to a good graduate school. You want a space where you can learn more about you, where you will discover a way to bring your special message, your gifts, and your talents to the world.

You need a place that will also allow you to grow and expand while you lead and serve. Yes, you are a different case, but you will still be competing for a prized spot in the freshman class with all of the other college applicants in this country. In addition, you will compete with thousands of foreign nationals who apply to college in the United States every year. Foreign students generally understand and practice rigor from an early age and already speak multiple languages. Many colleges actively recruit foreign nationals because they have less need for financial aid or scholarships. In other words, it is a very profitable thing for the colleges to do. So get ready for the competition.

This is what college admissions officers expect to see as a minimum course of high school study:

English: four years

Mathematics: three years

Science: three years, including a year of a laboratory science, one year of a life science, and one physical science.

Social Studies: three years, including world history, some study of United States
Government, and some United States History.

Foreign Language: one or two years, preferably two years. The more, the better.

The Arts: advisable and frequently required.

Physical Education: credits set by the state.