Planning A Rigorous Senior Year Course Schedule

my senior yearSenior Year Class Selection: Yes, this is for you—Juniors

As many juniors plan their senior year schedules, they often choose the path of least resistance. Yet, senior year should be a time for mastery, of exploration, and of rigor. Colleges want students who take their academics to the next level.

So juniors, need to plan their senior years wisely. They need to keep going with content areas and not abandon anything. It is so hard doing college math if someone skips math senior year, and so on.

I’m sorry for seniors who want free periods and early dismissals. Parents, teachers, and counselors, you need to be strong.

Juniors–We know you’re tired and that junior year is so challenging, but you have one more year to show your academic talents and passions to colleges. Please plan your senior year very wisely.

Here are some tips to guide you through your course selection for senior year.

  1. Take an exciting and powerful senior year. Colleges worry about students who take easy senior years with only a few core classes and fewer activities.
  2. Do not abandon more than one subject area. That means if you are not taking a foreign language anymore, you must not give up history or science. If you dislike science, then take a foreign language and social science. Remember, you have to take math and language placement tests. If you don’t take those content areas senior year, those tests will be harder for you.
  3. Take at least four core classes, not including electives. Five cores plus one elective are ideal. Colleges want to see academic interest, not abandonment.
  4. Take as hard a year as you can. If you took some AP and honors classes in 11th grade, then take more senior year. If you didn’t take any, try one honors or AP class. Even though some public universities don’t see your senior year grades during the admissions process, they do count the number of AP and honors classes you take during senior year.
  5. Follow your interests. Senior year is often the only time in high school that you can take more than one elective. If you are interested in medicine or sports, take anatomy and physiology. If you’re interested in teaching or helping people, take psychology. If you’re an artist, take another field of art. Try new content areas.
  6. Pick classes in which you can do well. Private colleges see your fall grades. Waitlisted or deferred colleges may ask for spring grades. All colleges you decide to accept ask for spring grades. If your grades drop, they often drop you.
  7. Use your summers to take more classes. Classes you take during the summer can enhance your GPA. They can help you clear away Ds and Fs. College classes often count as AP level classes. Classes you take during the summer can enable you to take more electives senior year.
  8. Plan to take one community college, college classes, or MOOCs during the summer or fall. If you have an academic interest, take a community college or college class during the summer and/or fall. They add to your GPA. They show how much you want to go to college. Colleges are looking for students with academic passions and interests. UCLA, for example, has a regular summer session. Also if you don’t need the academic credit, take MOOCs at Stanford or MIT that help you push your academic curiosity.
  9. Remember, colleges want students who like to go to class. If they see that you abandon classes and/or choose a really light senior year, they will worry about your approach to school once you go to their college. In college, you usually only take four classes at a time. Look forward to that.
  10. If you do take an easier schedule, then you must fill your time with a job, volunteer work, or internship. Dedicate the amount of time you would have been in that class to an activity. Colleges also want students who use their time productively.