Having More Course Options in High School Isn’t Always Better

You work your way through the grind of early high school. You take your required math, english, science, and history courses. A foreign language course may be required, may not be. Finally, it’s junior year or senior year, and you have fulfilled the graduation requirements and can just sit back and take electives now, right?! Not so fast. In this blog post we explain why all the “fun” options for junior and senior year courses are really an easy trap to fall into if you’re looking at selective colleges and can hurt your chances of being admitted.


Requirements vs Recommendations

When you look through Naviance, and on colleges’ websites, you can usually find which high school courses they require and which they recommend for admission. So, what is the difference? Think of require as the bare minimum. What the college really prefers in order to admit a student is listed under recommended. For example, if you look at the requirements and recommendations for Boston University, a college that is considered highly selective, they look like this:


Math: Required 3, Recommended 4 English: Required 4, Recommended 4 History/ Social Studies: Required 3, Recommended 4Foreign Language: Required 2, Recommended 4Lab Science: Required 3, Recommended 4


Most selective colleges like Boston University recommend that applicants have four years of the five major subjects: english, history/ social studies, math, science, and language.  So, even if you have met your high school’s requirements to graduate, chances are you haven’t met what colleges want applicants to have.


Those tricky, fun electives

Likely, your high school will offer upperclass students a more “traditional” option in each subject, and a more “fun” option. ie, for math, they may offer Calculus, or Statistics. In science, they may offer Physics or Marine Biology. For many students, Marine Biology would be the more interesting and fun option, and lets say you were thinking of studying Marine Biology in college, then it seems like a good choice, right? Not so. Most colleges would rather you take Physics. They want you to take your traditional classes in high school and save the fun, more specific courses for college. So, when in doubt, pick the more traditional option.


Reach out

College admission counselors actually like it when students reach out to them! And, if you have a question for a specific college about which high school courses they would prefer to see on your transcript, why not email them!? It’s a good way to demonstrate interest, while asking a purposeful and important question.


Campus Bound counselors are also always willing to help students pick the high school courses that are best for them, while giving them the best chance of admission at the colleges they aspire to attend. Contact your Campus Bound counselor with any questions, or email us at info@campusbound.com to learn more about our services.



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