It’s never too early to prepare for success in college, and the earlier you begin, the less you’ll have to scramble later.

Recommended classes

Four years of English (with an emphasis on writing)
Reading nurtures an appreciation of people and ideas, expands vocabulary and enhances understanding. Clear and persuasive writing shows that you can think critically, interpret text and put it into context, solve problems and express information and ideas to others.

Three or more years of mathematics
Understanding concepts, carrying out procedures and employing mathematical reasoning is applied in courses like biology, economics and psychology. Proficiency in algebra, geometry, data analysis and probability is necessary for college-level work, regardless of your intended major.

Three or more years of science (including at least one year of laboratory science)
Familiarity with the basic principles of chemistry, physics and biology are the base for advanced scientific knowledge and important for understanding the relationship among science, technology and society.

Three or more years of social science
The social sciences — economics, psychology, political science and others — increase understanding of the political, cultural, social, economic and geographical forces that produce changes over time.

Two or more years of a world language
Studying another language provides practical skills for living and working in a diverse world. It enhances understanding of your first language, facilitates acceptance of cultures and aids cognitive development.

Several courses in the arts
Music, theater, dance and studio art facilitate deeper insights into our world and stimulate creativity and imagination.

Read our information about how to earn credit in high school and view our high school timeline.

Some students make the mistake of overly focusing on their high school grade point average, to the point that they think it is better to take easier classes than ones that challenge them. Know that private colleges appreciate seeing you take courses that have more rigor.

Get involved

Participation in extracurricular activities is more than just fun; it demonstrates a broad range of interests and the ability to manage time — both keys to a successful college experience. So get involved. Participation in team or individual sports shows persistence and discipline.

Involvement in community service or volunteer work shows willingness to contribute to the well-being of your neighbors. Involvement in a religious group, the school newspaper, special interest clubs, the debate team or band demonstrates commitment and develops your talents.

Involve parents and counselors

Take advantage of opportunities to talk with your parents and school counselor about your interests and goals. They can help you make the connection between your interests, education and career options. They can also help you meet deadlines for entrance exams and applications.