As high school students return from winter break and dive into second semester, they are often faced with many decisions regarding their course schedule. Some students look forward to planning for the upcoming year while others are slightly panic-stricken with the overwhelming decisions. “Do I take AP Stats or Honors Calculus?” “What about that photography course I’ve been wanting to take since freshman year?” Below are a few key points to consider when building your class schedule and can help you feel more prepared as you approach the process.

Use your Resources
Sometimes students are under the impression they have to figure it out for themselves, but really they have an amazing support team behind them to help guide and direct their decision. Don’t be afraid to talk to your current teachers about what placement may be right for you next year. For example, if you are deciding between a college prep course or a more advanced honors or AP course ask you teacher or counselor about the differences in academic rigor.

Finding a Healthy Balance
As you begin to determine whether or not to take advanced courses based on your ability and work ethic, it is also helpful to think about the overall balance of your schedule. For example, you may be able to handle AP Physics, AP Psychology, AP Calculus and Honors English as individual courses. But when you combine all of your classes and realize you will be taking them at the same time, you may need to consider other options as to not overwhelm yourself. When thinking about finding a balance, you should also look beyond the classroom. What other activities are you involved in? Will you be working part time during the school year or managing athletics? These extracurricular activities will impact the amount of time you have to dedicate to school work.

Formative Electives
For many students approaching their junior or senior year, they begin to think about possible majors or areas of study they may want to pursue in college. If you’re considering business for example, you should look for electives during high school that may help provide a strong foundation for future courses. Does your high school offer an Intro to Business course or maybe an Accounting class? If so you should take advantage of this. Even if you haven’t decided on a potential major, taking these types of career exploration electives can help you find the right fit or even weed out an area you no longer are interested in.

Beyond High School
One thing some students don’t realize until their senior year is well underway is that some colleges or programs may require prerequisite courses in high school. During your junior year as you continue to develop your list of colleges, you should check to see if they provide specific criteria as part of their admissions requirements. Some of the more selective colleges or programs (think Biomedical Engineering) may state they have a four year science requirement, including a certain amount of lab sciences.

While your high school may not have that same requirement for graduation, you should be aware of possible college requirements for admission, whether it is a general requirement, or specific to a major or program you are applying to.

As you plan for next year, consider each of the above areas and use your resources to make your resume stronger. Talk to your peers or mentors to help you through this decision process. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself, you can always find your way to the right path! And, as always, remember that we’re here for you to help you plan, organize and set you up for success.