Plan Your Ride to Success

Tips on Choosing High School Courses

Planning for college can be an exciting time but picking your classes can feel overwhelming. St. Mike's wants to help you understand how to choose high school courses to best prepare yourself academically for college. As you select your courses, be sure to challenge yourself in a well-rounded, rigorous, college preparatory program.

Course Selection Guidelines

Most selective colleges look for applicants with at least 16 Carnegie Units of college preparatory course work in high school. This includes some combination of the following:

  • 4 years of English
  • 2-4 years of modern language
  • 3-4 years of theoretical mathematics
  • 3-4 years of science including at least 2 years of lab sciences
  • 3-4 years of history & social sciences

Honors & AP Classes

You should challenge yourself by taking the highest available level of coursework which may include honors and AP classes suitable to your abilities. If your school doesn't offer AP classes, be sure to take the most rigorous program offered. Challenge yourself and maintain a strong grade point average; colleges will notice!

Senior Year

There is a lot of talk that junior year is the most important year for college admission. But remember, every year matters and usually your entire transcript is evaluated during the review process. Showing academic growth and improvement as you advance through school is important. So, don't forget that your senior year matters too!


Often high school students add electives to their schedule as soon as they can. Electives can be valuable but we recommend you take them in addition to and not as replacements for the other courses that have strong emphasis on developing a well-rounded college preparatory curriculum!

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