High School Course Selection

The courses you take (and don’t take) in high school can be the difference between acceptance and rejection at your dream college.

Going Ivy consultants work with students to identify the best high school courses to take to achieve their college dreams. As a Phoenix-based company founded and run by Brophy/Xavier grads who have made it into some of the country’s leading universities, we understand how to select the courses that will give you the transcript to get into your dream school – while at the same time making sure you aren’t too overwhelmed. Our team also includes former admissions officers who can give an insider’s perspective on what top colleges are looking for in high school course selection.

Over the past several decades, the college admissions process has been turned on its head with more competition and more selectivity. One element of the process that hasn’t changed, however, is the importance of your high school transcript: the classes you select and the grades you receive in those classes. This information on your transcript has consistently topped the list of the factors colleges weight most for the past 20 years. The courses you take (and don’t take), the grades you make and where you stand in comparison to the rest of your classmates can be the difference between acceptance and rejection at your dream school.

But how do you know what to do? Is it better to get an A in an honors class or a B in an AP class? Should you take an elective in an area that excites you or focus on sneaking in an extra math course? How much will it matter?

Going Ivy is here to help. We work with you to develop a plan and select the right high school courses that will provide you with what you need to get into the best college or university for you. We work with students in private, public and charter high schools all around in the Phoenix-metro area, including Brophy College Prep, Xavier College Prep, Phoenix Country Day School, Notre Dame Prep, Basis, North, Mountain View High School, Desert Mountain High School, Arcadia High School, Chaparral High School and many more in Glendale, Scottsdale, Chandler and other areas.

By helping you to choose the best high school courses and providing you with the assistance you need to get through them, we can help you to get into the best school for you, allowing you to achieve your ultimate higher education goals.

Factors for College Admissions

There are countless factors that colleges and universities will take into consideration when reviewing your application. According to the National Association for College Admissions, the top five most important factors that admissions officers pay attention to are:

  • The grades you achieve in your college-prep courses.
  • The curriculum you followed throughout your high school career (how demanding your Phoenix high school courses were).
  • The scores you achieve on admissions exams.
  • The grades you earned in all of your classes (not just the ones that are important to your intended major).
  • Your writing sample or essay.

Even with all of the changes in the college application process, your overall performance throughout your career in your Phoenix high school still remains at the top of the list.

Everything you do in school from your freshman year to your senior year will be evaluated by the colleges and universities to which you apply. Most colleges and universities assess many students year after year from your high school. For this reason, you’ll want to make sure that you have selected challenging courses and been successful in those. At Going Ivy, we can help keep you on track.

Important Courses for Admission Consideration

No matter where you apply to school, colleges and universities all tend to look for similar high school courses. At the most basic level, colleges expect to see students focus on math, science (especially science courses that require labs), English and a foreign language. In general, you will want to make sure that the following courses are included throughout your high school career:

  • In math, you will want to take algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus and calculus. If higher levels of calculus are offered, then those should be pursued, as well.
  • For science, colleges and universities look for biology, chemistry, and physics. It also doesn’t hurt to have a non-lab science such as psychology.
  • You should take one English course for every year you are in high school. English courses not only teach you about different types of literature (American, British, etc.) and ways of writing (short story, novel, poetry), they also teach you grammar and punctuation. These are essential components for writing a compelling short answer or essay for your college application.
  • For history, you should have a class in U.S. history, World history and government.
  • You should have at least three years of a foreign language, whether it’s French, Spanish, or something else such as Mandarin Chinese. Four years, however, is preferable. It is important that you have three years in the same language, rather than taking two years of one and then switching to something else.
  • Take electives that suit your interests. It is also important that you take at least one course in the arts (e.g., music or theater).

The Importance of Pushing Yourself

While your course load throughout high school is important, so, too, is pushing yourself to do your best. Colleges and universities want to see that you are progressing throughout your high school career. This is why, for example, your three years (at least) of foreign language should be in the same language. They also want to see that your classes are becoming progressively more challenging. If you start out taking advanced-level courses in the early years of your high school career, it is important to stay with those types of classes. Dropping down to a regular-level course in your junior or senior year raises a red flag to college admissions advisers. An easy senior year schedule signals that you could be coasting to the end of your high school career, not finishing strong.

At Going Ivy, we recommend that, if you have the option between taking regular-level courses or advanced placement courses, you aim for advanced placement. Starting with challenging courses in the beginning sets you on the track to further excel down the road. You might be concerned about your ability to handle several advanced-level courses, knowing full well that you can shine at standard levels. You might think that getting all As in general courses is better than a few Bs in advanced-level classes, but the truth is, those Bs will look much better than any As in “easy” classes. If you are in advanced-level courses and need help getting the best grades possible, and advancing to the next level, we can help with Going Ivy tutoring services. It is our goal to help you achieve your educational dreams.

The right high school course selection can go a long way in helping you to gain admission into the best college or university for you. Going Ivy can help you to plot a course of appropriate classes to take and provide you with any tutoring, essay editing and test prep you need to succeed. Schedule your free initial in-person interview with one of Going Ivy’s Phoenix admissions experts. Can’t meet in person? We can also meet with you through video conferencing. Whether you are just entering one of the many Phoenix high schools, or are approaching your final year, you have plenty of options for college prep. Allow Going Ivy to help. Call today!

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