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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High School Subjects – What Subjects Will You Have To Take?

Secondary school subject choices have changed in the last century. Great grandparents of the current high school generation often were fortunate to be able to go beyond elementary school. Students had eight grades of school and often had subjects that today’s scholars won’t study until upper grades of high school. Students of the early 20th century were required to pass examinations to prove their proficiency in grammar, spelling, arithmetic and classical languages. A variety of high school subjects allows students to make better informed choices about possible careers.

Today, though, the range of subjects is much wider than historical students. There are schools that focus on certain types of subjects. For example, a student may complete college preparatory classes. Students can focus on various trade tracks. These might include dental assistant, beautician, mechanics or computer technology. Other schools can provide more education focused on the arts. Students might be able to study dance, music or theater.

General studies at almost every high school are set by state and sometimes federal standards. Students must complete a certain number of instruction hours or days of class before a graduation diploma or certificate is issued. These usually include classes in English, science, math, history, health, physical education and sometimes arts. Some states require study of a second language.

Today, many schools require students to learn keyboarding. The proficiency in using and understanding computer keyboards and software is critical for maintaining communication with others around the globe. Although most children have some exposure to computer games and the Internet, not all are able to make efficient use of the tools.

It’s important for adolescents to get a broad choice of subjects in secondary school, rather than focusing on just one range of subjects. A student who likes mathematics and related subjects such as geometry, trigonometry and calculus should also get a grounding in literature and grammar. While the student may not think subjects outside a field of immediate interest, high school should be the place where a wide range of basics can be experienced. Most people change careers more than once over the course of a lifetime, so using the secondary school years to learn as much as possible about many subjects is more important than detailed study of a single subject.

In addition to more traditional subjects, many schools now require some life experiences training. The belief is that students should understand how to balance a checkbook, open a bank account and create a budget. The life experiences classes can be very flexible in nature and may be included within the framework of other classes. With traditional gender roles and classes less obvious in today’s classroom, students may learn how to change oil in an automobile and how to do some simple cooking tasks.

Understanding how to put a sentence together and communicate thoughts to others is another part of classes. Some schools offer classes such as speech, but communications practice is more likely to be part of an English Composition curriculum. Plays and theater productions, including musicals are part of the optional subjects in some school.

Understanding the world in which they live is one of the high school subjects that is often part of the history classes. It might be as much current affairs as historical affairs. A good grasp of the panorama of history is important for learning how today’s culture is affected by what has occurred in the past.

Additional information at: http://www.pennfoster.edu/diploma/index.html?semkey=Q101057

Understanding High School Report Cards

Many things are different in schools today but one dynamic that has not altered is the assigning of high school report cards to students. Grades can be used for a variety of means, they help to show parents how well their sons and daughters have performed and can be used to ensure students are allocated to the right programs. Also it is a great way to illicit better results from individual students that are found to be underachieving. High school report cards also play an important role when it comes to gaining admission in a college.

The largest majority of schools still use the traditional system of grading. This involves awarding alphanumeric grades, typically from A – F, or expressed as a percentage. Most teachers have complete autonomy when it comes to judging student performance and issuing grades. Only a few high schools have strict guidelines relating to filling out information on report cards.

Though parents are often under the impression that the grades that are given to their teenage sons and daughters focus primarily on achievement, the fact is that many teachers also consider a variety of other factors. These considerations can include student effort, participation, progress, attitude, and behaviour.

A report card has a greater importance than just highlighting academic prowess, it is seen as a way of ensuring correct feedback is given to students and their families. At the end of the day each parent will have a different understanding as to which grading elements are important.

Given the fact that most teachers have free reign when developing their own grading polices and the fact that there can be considerable differences in the curriculum given in different districts and states, it can be difficult to compare the information on report cards. Research for the US Department of Education found that in a study that compared the grades of students in high poverty schools and affluent schools there were major differences in the standards required to achieve the highest grading.

To be given a better indication of the actual level of academic achievement it can be better to focus on the results from end of course examinations. These usually follow a set format within a particular state and are marked by examiners who are not known to the individual students. Many states now include end of course exams as an intrinsic component of their assessment system.

A lot of schools are now choosing to experiment with report cards that illustrate student progress towards acquiring specific standards. This involves identifying the level of knowledge that a student is expected to master at a particular level and then presenting a curriculum and testing that matches.

High school report cards that feature teacher comments and phrases relating to a level a student has reached can be more desirable that simply using the old fashioned A-F marking system. The issue with this new type of marking is that it can be difficult for a college to evaluate whether or not a particular student meets their eligibility requirements in full.

Additional information at:  https://p1pe.doe.virginia.gov/reportcard/