High school upperclassmen may be feeling a little bored with their current subjects. Everyday seem like the same old math or English class, but high school students can use these classes and the electives they take to help prepare them for college. Certain electives can help a student improve their critical thinking, writing and study skills. Electives can also help students get the necessary experience to apply for grants or scholarships relating to the subject matter.

No matter what major you plan on studying in college, your high school will usually have a program related to it. The English student can take creative writing or language classes, the fine arts student could take a variety of visual or performing arts classes and the science students can focus their attention on areas like advanced biology and chemistry. Here are some opportunities to take advantage of to help prepare for college:

AP classes

AP classes cover material that is more in-depth, and at a faster rate than regular high school classes. Advanced classes teach a student study habits, time management and problem-solving skills. Many students benefit from taking AP and honors classes by receiving college credit. This can enable a student to skip general education classes their freshman year and immediately dive into more advanced subjects. Any credits gained from these classes may result in a student having enough time to pursue a double major, travel abroad or even graduate early. Graduating early may prove beneficial for students because they will not have to worry about getting as much financial aid as originally planned.

Mandatory classes

Some of the most helpful high school classes that prepare a student for college are the ones that are already required by the school. High schools require four years of English classes, and applying yourself in these lessons strengthens your analytical and reading skills. Most high schools only require a student to take three years of math classes, but for students going to college, it would be unwise to not take four years. Some students will skip senior year math because they have already met the requirements. The math courses in college build from high school and the student who took a year off may find it difficult to understand the college-level courses.

Many colleges require students to take at least two years of a language, but it is smart to take an additional year or two. This is because students who have superior language skills are more likely to grasp college material. This extra knowledge of language will also come in handy when writing scholarship or grant applications in college. Even if you plan on going to a visual or performing arts college, those schools will require you to have some experience in fundamental high school subjects prior to admission.

Electives that will strengthen your application

The number of electives a high school offers can be overwhelming, because they are a range of topics, from advanced art classes to specialized history subjects. There are a lot of reasons to take certain classes, but some electives can help high school students fine tune their college application and the idea of what they want to do after graduation.

When choosing an elective, pick something that you will be excited to study and that will give you the most opportunity to grow. Some electives may even be recommended by colleges, and the application of a student who has taken these courses will stand out. Examples could be an English class focusing on British literature, a history course that studies women’s rights or a science class that studies niche subjects like zoology. Taking specialized classes can help a student improve their writing, critical thinking and communication skills. Taking the right electives shows colleges that you can apply yourself to specialized subjects, and each one strengthens your transcript in the eyes of admissions officers.

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