How many AP classes should you take? Should you enroll in the fourth year of language? Can you artificially boost your GPA by taking a community college class called “Sandwich Making?” (You can’t, by the way.)
Here at Accelerations Learning Center, we have gathered some of the best answers by interviewing over 200 college counselors from around the country and have cultivated the best answers just for you!
1. Take the most rigorous schedule your academic abilities can handle.
Remember, it is always better to get “Bs” in harder classes than it is to get “As” in easier classes. It is especially important to take the most rigorous courses in the subjects that you find the most interesting and for which you have the most innate ability. You do, however, really want to avoid “Cs.” So challenge, but do not overextend yourself.
2. If you find a subject that fascinates you, get more involved in it.
If you absolutely love your US History class, this is the perfect opportunity to show the love of learning. So, dive in. Do additional reading on the subject. Take a history course over the summer at a local college. Set aside a Sunday to watch the PBS Civil War special that you recorded. Make a point to visit Gettysburg. Colleges appreciate a student who has shown an interest in learning beyond just getting good grades.
3. Practice the art of becoming involved in your classes.
Contribute to class discussions, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to talk to your teacher before or after class. Classes are always more enjoyable when you’re involved, and your teachers will appreciate that you do more than just sit there in class. This kind of engaged participation will really pay off when colleges ask you to get letters of recommendation from your teachers.
4. Students, not parents, should initiate all discussions with teachers and counselors.
It’s important to demonstrate that you, not your parents, are taking responsibility for your academic success. If you are having trouble in a class, go speak with the teacher. If you want to know what you’ll have to do to get into AP Biology next year, go see your counselor. Remember how important initiative is in the college admissions process. Here’s your opportunity to show a great deal of it.
5. Never be afraid to ask for help.
Many of the Collegewise students who earn the best grades are the also ones who aren’t afraid to admit when they just don’t get it. There’s no shame in asking for some help. So if you didn’t understand a single thing in your trigonometry class today, ask the teacher for help. If you studied really hard and still did poorly on your chemistry test, meet with your teacher and try to find out where you went wrong. And if you’re having trouble in a number of your classes and think you might need to make some changes, talk with your counselor and get her advice.
By all means, take the sandwich-making class to learn one of life’s finest crafts (we like roast beef and cheddar on rye, by the way). But when it comes to getting into college, the students who work hard, like to learn, and are willing to ask for a little extra help when they need it are the ones who impress teachers, counselors, and colleges.