Junior Year College Prep Schedule

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What should your schedule for junior year in high school look like if you're focused on college prep?


Junior Year College Prep Schedule
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From a college prep standpoint, junior year may be the most important year of high school.

While seniors are filling out college applications and sophomores are looking ahead, juniors are in the middle of the key full year that will be evaluated by colleges.

While not necessarily part of the required college-prep curriculum, electives can certainly help to increase one’s appeal when applying to college.

Eleventh grade is the year in which you – along with your counselor, teachers and parents - assess your GPA, test scores, and extracurricular accomplishments, and decide the best plan of action for college admissions. In terms of college-prep, the classes you take during junior year are extremely important.

So what classes should you be taking?

Graduation vs. Preparation

There are essentially two paths you can take during junior year: a standard academic route that will let you graduate from high school, or a more rigorous and difficult schedule filled with college prep classes. You may have started making some of these choices in your sophomore or even your freshman year. But junior year is where the rubber really hits the road.

For example, the standard math classes taken in junior year are either Algebra 2 or geometry, whereas the math courses taken as part of college prep are either pre-calculus or calculus.

In junior year, a student preparing for college would probably take a third year of her chosen foreign language. On the other hand, a student not interested in college prep would only take a foreign language during freshman and sophomore years.

The standard 11th grade offerings will also differ from state to state. Some schools offer an honors track as opposed to a standard track. Other schools, particularly private schools, only offer a college-prep curriculum. You’ll need to evaluate your school’s offerings and make choices that fit your goals.

APs and Electives

Many departments, like science, history and English, offer Advanced Placement courses for students seeking college prep. APs are challenging, college-level courses that can boost your GPA and demonstrate to colleges that you are ready for university-level coursework.

While not necessarily part of the required college-prep curriculum, electives can certainly help to increase one’s appeal when applying to college. Some schools offer elective courses in fields like creative writing, film and television, journalism, music, art, art history and drama - all of which can enhance your appeal as a college candidate.

Is College Prep Right For Me?

College prep classes prepare you for the material you’ll be confronting in the college classroom. They also make it clear on your transcript that you are serious about college.

Courses like pre-calculus and calculus will prepare you for even more advanced math and engineering work – a requirement for some of the more demanding college programs out there. For those schools, if you haven’t taken advanced classes, you may not even be eligible to enter their programs without further coursework. Be sure to look into program requirements early on to get an idea of what you’ll need to take before high school graduation day.

While college prep may not be for everyone, it’s something to consider and discuss with your school counselor. If you’re undecided about your post-graduation plans, you’ll still want to make smart decisions when choosing high school classes.

Keeping your college options open is a good idea for any student who’s unsure of what she’d like to do after senior year. You may not want to head straight to college after high school, but you may decide later on to return to school. Talk to your counselor about selecting the best courses for you based on your school’s curriculum.

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