High School Courses

Based on my research and conversations with admissions officers, it's clear that they value students who challenge themselves by taking rigorous courses and showing improvement in their grades over time. By investing time and effort into the area of study they're interested in pursuing, students demonstrate their dedication and preparedness for college-level work. Check out my NOTES to understand what admissions directors seek in course selection.  

Pick your graduation plan

When it comes to college admissions requirements, it's important to keep in mind that colleges are specifically interested in students who have completed the core classes included in the Texas Distinguished Level of Achievement high school graduation plan. These core courses are essential for your high school graduation and college education. By selecting this recommended graduation plan, you're already well on your way toward meeting the expectations of college admissions directors. If you're interested in learning more about this topic, be sure to check out my notes for additional insights and guidance. Best of luck as you continue to pursue your academic goals!

You can use this template to create a 4-year plan!

Take Challenging classes

I highly recommend taking rigorous classes in high school to build new skills and prepare for the challenges of college. These advanced classes, including honors and college-level courses, help you excel academically, but they'll also impress college admission officers and increase your chances of getting accepted. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself and push beyond your comfort zone - it'll pay off in the long run!

Taking AP courses can introduce you to new topics and ideas that are not covered in regular classrooms. The wide range of subjects allows you to explore your interests and develop new passions. You may even discover the subject that will become your college major or the focus of your career.

Honors and college-level courses can help you learn the skills and habits you'll need to be successful in college and beyond. They will allow you to develop the following:

Showing that you're willing to push yourself by taking rigorous classes in high school helps when you're applying to college; the level of courses you take now is one of the first things colleges look at.

If you're looking to get ahead in college, taking college courses, IB classes and exams, and AP Exams can be a great way to earn college credit and achieve performance acknowledgment distinctions on your transcript. Not only can this help you save time and money, but it can also allow you to skip some college courses and move directly into more advanced classes that interest you. If you're not sure where to begin, it's always a good idea to talk with your school counselor. They can help you gather information about a course's workload, preparation details, and registration process, so you can make an informed decision about which courses to take.

Extracurricular Activities

When applying to college, it's important to remember that extracurricular activities are just one piece of the puzzle. While they may not be the most important factor, they do play a role in the admissions decision. Clubs and organizations can give insight into your interests and passions, while volunteer work shows dedication to helping your community. Additionally, your elective courses can showcase your willingness to learn and explore new topics. So, while it's important to participate in activities outside of the classroom, it's also important to remember that they are just one aspect of your overall application. 

Think ahead

When thinking about your ideal school and degree plan, it's important to research the admissions requirements as soon as possible. This will allow you to build a course schedule that meets those requirements and improves your chances of being accepted. For example, you might find out that your top choice college prefers applicants who have completed at least three years of a foreign language or that they don't accept American Sign Language as a foreign language credit. By planning ahead, you can ensure that you're ready to apply at the beginning of your senior year and avoid any potential setbacks. 

I strongly recommend taking classes in the area you plan to major in.  It will give you a head start in your studies, but it also demonstrates your interest and eagerness to learn more about the subject. Plus, by taking these classes early on, you'll have a better understanding of whether or not this major is the right fit for you. So don't hesitate to sign up for those classes and start pursuing your academic goals! 

Creating an academic plan can be extremely beneficial when it comes to getting into your dream college. By researching the specific requirements for admission, such as necessary courses, GPA, and test scores, you can develop a plan to help you meet those criteria. This will increase your chances of being accepted and also give you a sense of direction and purpose in your academic pursuits. So take the time to research and create an academic plan that will help you achieve your goals. 

When it comes to extracurricular activities, it's important to show that you have a genuine interest in the area you plan to study. This can be a great way to demonstrate your passion and dedication and help you stand out from other applicants if you're applying to a competitive major. If your current activities don't align with what you plan to study, it might be worth exploring some new options that will allow you to showcase your skills and interests more reasonably. Whether it's volunteering, joining a club or organization, or pursuing an independent project, there are many ways to demonstrate your interest and commitment to your chosen field. 

When it comes to applying to colleges and universities, it's important to know what they're looking for in an applicant. That's why I recommend taking a look at the Common Data Set (CDS) for the schools you're interested in. It can provide valuable insight that can help inform your decisions and increase your chances of being accepted.

Use your resources

As you prepare to apply, it's important to remember that many resources and tools are available to help you along the way. These can be incredibly valuable in informing your decisions and making the process feel less overwhelming. Don't be afraid to take advantage of these resources and seek out guidance from experts or peers who have gone through the process before. With the right tools and support, you can navigate the application process with confidence and ease. 

Your high school counselor is a great resource when you're trying to prepare for your future.  They can help with the following:

College Board gives you AP course suggestions based on your PSAT and SAT scores! Consider their recommendations when selecting your high school courses and thinking about your career.

If you know what you want to major in, find courses that go along with your desired major, and take those!  This shows demonstrated interest;  a key component, especially if you're trying to get into a  competitive program.  

Use the College Search resources to research the academic requirements of your preferred college to ensure you’re on the path to being admitted. 

If you're a college-bound student-athlete, make sure you verify that your courses qualify as NCAA core courses. 

Don't be afraid to ask for help!