4 Ways To Choose Classes & Activities
AP and honors classes, but you’re not sure how well you’ll do. You’ve read that colleges like to see lots of extracurricular activities, but you’re not exactly athletic or musically inclined. What to do?
Use the following four criteria to filter your class and activity considerations. If they pass one or more of these benchmarks, start making plans. If they don’t, you’re probably best passing on them—at least for now.
CRITERIA NO. 1
It will bring you one step closer to the career you want.
If you’ve wanted to be a veterinarian since you were four and you still think you want to be a vet, sign up for high school classes that will help prepare you for that major. Physics, cell biology, animal science or anatomy will all be helpful for your transition to college science classes, and interning for a vet, volunteering at an animal shelter or working at a farm, stable or kennel will give you experience and help you confirm your interest in the field.
CRITERIA NO. 2
You think you can get at least a B in the class.
Taking an AP or honors class can be risky—especially if you’re not really fond of (or good in) the subject. But according to the College Board, 32 percent of colleges and universities look at AP course experience to make scholarship decisions.* And you like free money, right?
If you think you can get at least a B in the class, go for it. College admissions officers like to see risk and academic growth. It’s not that impressive to get straight A’s in all basic classes. Doing well in an AP class shows you’re ready for the pressures of college and that you like to be challenged. Most colleges grant credit and/or accelerated placement for passing scores on AP exams. This can also help you graduate from college in four years (or fewer) and save you money.
CRITERIA NO. 3
Most colleges on your list require it or like to see it on your application.
Yes, grades and test scores are important, but so are extracurricular activities—both in school and outside of school. And no, you don’t need to be a star athlete. Schools like to see leadership positions (e.g., student council), personal accomplishments (e.g., completed a marathon), volunteer work and commitments to one or two things you’re passionate about (e.g., drama, dance, piano, animals).
CRITERIA NO. 4
It looks fun!
You’re still in high school—don’t get so focused on college that you only enroll in the classes or activities you SHOULD and not a few that you WANT to take! Does intramural volleyball sound like a good way to stay fit and have fun? Would a creative writing class sound less like work and more like something you’d do in your spare time? Are you interested in Glee Club even though you can’t carry a tune? Do something you like!
While it’s good to take some things into consideration, choosing how you spend your time in school, after school and on weekends shouldn’t be stressful. Just run your options through these four filters and you can’t go wrong!