Overview: Planning a comprehensive K - 12 course schedule can be a difficult task that varies widely by school district. Elementary school grades and test scores can determine middle school course opportunities. Middle school grades and test scores, together with classes taken, can determine a student’s ninth grade course schedule. The level and type of classes a student takes in the ninth grade can determine the type and level of classes throughout a student’s time during high school. Students who take middle school classes for high school credit get a jump start toward the number of credits required for high school graduation and students who take classes for college credit during high school get a jump start of accumulating the number of college credits required to attain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
While some students are anxious to take the highest level classes possible, other students, oftentimes as the result of misinformation, enroll in lower level classes, which may hurt their chances for admission into some colleges and consideration for some scholarships. The pre-reading in A High School Plan for Students with College-Bound Dreams: Workbook, Section I: Academics is designed to assist in identifying the course taking options in your school or school district. Some classes may be offered at other high schools in your school district, through a Dual Enrollment or Early College program, and through online learning opportunities. The pre-reading and pre-activities are intended to provide a context for your course taking decisions. For example, will you consider classes that relate to expanding your gifts and talents in such areas as math, science, literature, art, music, or theatre? Will you take college-level classes such as those offered as part of Advanced Placement or Dual Enrollment programs? Will the colleges or scholarships to which you are interested in applying focus more on your grade point average, level of course taking, or both?
7 common considerations regarding the type and level of a student’s high school course taking are:
- Meeting the graduation requirements for a high school diploma and the admission requirements for the state’s public university system.
- Developing adequate preparation for transitioning into college, technical school, the military, or the workplace.
- Engaging in a level of rigor that will provide a strong academic foundation for pursuing a postsecondary course of study and performing well on college admissions exams.
- Meeting the course taking expectations of the colleges or scholarships to which you will be applying.
- Exploring interests or maximizing opportunities to expand a your gifts and talents.
- Exploring Dual Enrollment or Early College course taking opportunities for simultaneously attaining a high school diploma and associate’s degree.
- Exploring Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate course taking opportunities to earn college credits, resulting in advanced standing and thousands of dollars in tuition savings.