Choosing the right courses often happens after choosing the wrong courses first. Every year, we find common mistakes when it comes to course selection. Thankfully, most high schools are willing to work with you to make adjustments. Here are the most common course changes you should consider.
Too Many Weighted Courses
As they say, too much of anything is a bad thing, and so is true of weighted coursework. How much is too much? First, it depends on a student’s prior performance; using that as a measure of one’s aptitude should provide a clue about readiness for weighted coursework. If, for example, a student earned a B/B in English Honors, think twice before forcing your student to take AP Lang. The same logic applies for any subject. Taking weighted courses because you heard “it makes you look good” for college is a decision that’s not only foolish, but one that is too often not based on hard data. Secondly, any AP count over 4 AP’s is usually a bad idea. No matter who you are, it saps time away from profile-building outside of class.
Weighted Courses in the Wrong Areas
Students majoring in Engineering derive little to no benefit from the headache of an AP US History, especially if they don’t enjoy history to begin with. Likewise, students majoring in history derive little to no benefit from taking AP Calculus BC, especially if they don’t like math. That being said, we see students signing up for weighted courses that have nothing to do with their major – or interests – all the time! It ruins lives and GPA’s every year. So do yourself a favor and replace your weighted coursework with those that have more to do with your major, or at the very least, with your interests.
Read more here to find out the weighted courses that make sense – and which don’t – depending on the major you are indicating towards.
Physics Missing for CS/Engineering Majors
Computer Science and Engineering majors keep making this one mistake: not taking physics until their senior year. If physics is an option for the 11th grade, we strongly recommend Engineering majors take it because: (1) it demonstrates aptitude towards Engineering departments, (2) it prepares them for the field of study that they’re trying to pursue. Even better is taking AP Physics 1 in 11th grade, opening up the opportunity to AP Physics C in 12th. Note that taking physics any later than the 11th grade wouldn’t allow a student to report their grade until after college application deadlines, which is too late by our books.
Psychology Missing for Biology or Business Majors
Having a back-up plan is always good. Intended Biology majors sometimes find themselves stuck with a really hard AP Biology class or teacher, and a pair of B’s can really wreck the plan of majoring in Biology. Likewise, prospective Business students often find bad luck in core classes that are important for business admissions, earning a rocky road transcript record for math classes and english. Hence why we recommend taking Psychology or AP Psychology in the 11th grade. In the event a student struggles in core classes, we can still make a case for Psychology as a major. This serves as an excellent pivot point to change majors not to Business, but also to Biology, Chemistry, and even Computer Science.
Accelerated Math with Weak Foundations
Taking an accelerated math course often doesn’t make you better at math; it makes you worse. It’s because you move so fast through the compressed curriculum that you don’t “learn” anything at all; rather, you’re just studying and taking tests before moving onto the next topic. For students who already lack strong foundations in math, this is an absolute nightmare and can do a lot more damage than one originally thought was possible. So if you’re registered for an accelerated math course, be honest with yourself: Are you 100% solid on the concepts you learned thus far? If not, either invest the time to prepare ahead of time or simply take a pass on the course.
Recap & Conclusion
It is important to take classes that correlate with your major in order to build your profile. Moreover, it is crucial to perform well in them. We highly recommend students to take the pivotal classes preparing them for their field of study by 11th grade, allowing for students to report their grades for it on their college applications. Remember, do not tire yourself out by taking too many weighted courses or weighted courses that won’t have an impact on the major you want to study. We hope that this provides some valuable insight on how to better your course selection while making your college application profile even stronger. We specialize in youth mentorship and college counseling. From 8th grade to 12th, we have you covered for any stage in your high school career. Schedule a free consultation with us here.
See you soon!