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Essential College Prep Curriculum

All the Classes You Really Need

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Essential College Prep Curriculum
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Colleges want to see kids who took their high school studies seriously, and are well-prepared for the academic challenges ahead. But admissions officers also evaluate applicants on the basis of what they did with the academic opportunities available to them - were there three Advanced Placement courses offered or 30? - not what Johnny Prepster took three cities over. A college-bound teen should plan on taking at least four or, preferably, five serious academic courses each year, although the more competitive your child's dream school, the greater the academic rigor expected. Requirements vary from school to school, but here's a typical rundown:

  • Four years of high school English.

  • Three or four years of math. Competitive schools want to see four years of math, preferably at least through pre-calculus or AP Statistics.

  • Two or more years of history.

  • Two or more years of science, but Harvard, for example, requires a year each of biology, chemistry, physics and advanced work in one of those disciplines.

  • Two or more years of a foreign language. (Harvard requires four.)

  • Depending on the college, a year of visual or performing arts.

  • Plus, additional courses drawn from the above, according to your child's interests. Some teens explore other areas of science. Others polish their foreign language expertise or delve into AP Music Theory and advanced level instrumental or choral ensembles.
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