Wednesday’s Parent: High School courses and college admissions

Choosing level of difficulty of High School courses. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Choosing level of difficulty of High School courses. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Picking clubs are a piece of cake compared to choosing high school courses. You can adapt the tips I provided in Pick a club but not any club to select electives, especially the fifth one about personal growth. It gets a little trickier for required core classes because the choice isn’t about subject matter but level of difficulty. The dilemma is balancing that with degree of course completion success displayed as grades on high school transcripts.

Advanced classes come in many forms. Highs schools may have their own Honors classes for more in depth studies. They may offer special curricula via AP or IB programs that many colleges consider either for increased admission chances or college credit. They may have an arrangement with a college to provide dual enrollment in certain classes for college course credit. How a college treats advanced classes and accompanying grades vary so check first and research costs, if any.

Colleges want students to stretch academically and take rigorous course work to demonstrate college readiness. Students want to show themselves as good catches. College Admission Officers often recommend students take the hardest classes they can and do well in.

Should the college-bound risk poorer grades and take advanced classes or play it safe?

The problem is this is the question most frequently asked but it is the wrong one to focus on. The reason students seek higher education is for knowledge and experiences to prepare for the future as a contributing adult member of society. High school is the perquisite so use the opportunity to challenge the intellect and be prepared to put in the effort.

What happens when a student struggles?

This is the right question to ask because it it the Plan B every student should have no matter what course or job they undertake. Recognizing the need for help, knowing the available resources, and seeking the appropriate aid is not only smart but a major step toward maturity and independence.

Collaboration, communication, problem-solving, time management and leadership are soft skills colleges seek in their students that are not reflected in grades. They can be demonstrated in a recommendation letter by a teacher or tutor showing student dedication, determination and progress.

Parents can play an instrumental role in developing these important success survival skills. Parents may help their college-bound kids hone the top soft skills shows how.

Read Suzanne’s post: Choosing Courses to Impress Colleges


Tonight is Wednesday’s Parent night (the fourth Wednesday of each month) on #CampusChat, Wednesday, September 24, 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will talk with Nicole Lentine @nlentine about choosing high school classes and college admissions. Nicole is an Admissions Counselor at and alumna of Champlain College. She is Co-Host of Admissions Live, a twice-monthly webshow on the #HigherEdLive network. Please join us and bring your questions and comments.

RECAP: Read this transcript because the tips and tweets were flying fast on this memorable ——> #CampusChat Recap 9-24: Choosing High School Courses with our guest Nicole Lentine, Admissions Counselor at Champlain College and other expert contributors, parents and students.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

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