High School Academics and College Prep

If you are preparing for college or any type of post-high school education, the courses you take in high school are fundamental. What basic information do you need right now to find out if your high school has what it takes to prepare you for college and your career beyond?

  • Evaluating your high school’s academic record
  • Setting your own academic goals
  • Maximizing your high school coursework

Evaluate Your School’s Academic Record

Never before in history has the country’s educational system been so scrutinized. Local news sources may regularly report on your high school’s academic record and major media outlets like U.S. News and World Report publish popular annual high school rankings lists.

Data on your high school’s academic record is available to almost anyone with a computer and an internet connection, including college admissions personnel.

Here’s a suggestion: Find out how your high school ranks regionally and nationally for academics, and leverage that information to prepare for college accordingly.

Set Your Academic Goals Early in High School

Good, bad or ugly, your high school’s academic record—whether it’s a public or private high school—plays only a small role in your college plans. Your high school’s academics are what you make of them, so the earlier you begin thinking about college, the better. If you wait until your junior or senior year in high school, even the best academic record may not save you.

As soon as you can in your high school career, create a strategy for the coursework you’d like to pursue. A well-worn business adage goes like this: Plan your work and work your plan. Create an academic plan and follow it. If college is the goal, keep it uppermost in your mind.

Tips and Tricks for Maximizing Your High School Coursework

You have a high school academic strategy laid out, you’re following it, and you have college uppermost in your mind….But how might you punch up this strategy even more?

  • Find out what you can about the colleges you’re interested in attending and plan your high school academic strategy accordingly.
  • Build on your high school academics by pursuing learning opportunities outside the classroom: volunteer in organizations that may help you gain some experience in your intended career, gain access to industry resources (books, reports, research data, etc.) that can enhance your classroom learning, and more.
  • Get involved in high school athletics, hobbies or other non-academic interests that prove to college admissions professionals that you are a well-rounded, active and motivated student.
  • Seek additional help and support for subjects that keep your grade averages low:  tutors, help sessions, extra credit coursework, and even online and offline resources outside the classroom are all excellent options and show you have what it takes to overcome challenges.

Remember, use your high school’s academics as a starting point for your college prep education.

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