Understand the high school class requirements of the colleges to which you plan to apply. Many colleges and universities require or recommend a certain number of years of English, Math, Social Studies, Science, and Foreign Language. Students who don’t fulfill the requirements are often ineligible to be accepted.
Last year, a student I worked with decided not to take the third year of a foreign language in high school. I had him check with the colleges he wanted to apply to that listed a requirement for a minimum of three years of foreign language. Some of these colleges indicated that they would not consider him without the third year of foreign language. This decision changed the list of colleges to which he would apply. I wanted him to understand the implication of his senior year course selection and not waste time applying to colleges that indicated they would not consider him without the third year of language.
Challenge yourself academically, while balancing your life. Take classes that challenge you (e.g., Honors, AP, or IB) while spending enough time to be healthy (e.g., to eat, sleep, exercise) and pursue your extracurricular interests.
Most colleges look at students holistically, so a tiny change in GPA is insignificant. One student recently told me she was planning to take a required art class, Pass/Fail. She didn’t want the class grade to lower her weighted GPA since the art class wasn’t an Honors or AP class. I told her not to take the class Pass/Fail because a college she was applying to required a year of art with a grade of at least a C. A decision to take the art class Pass/Fail might have had the unintended consequence of making her ineligible to be accepted to that college.
Students often do not realize that many colleges and universities will re-compute their GPA. The re-computed GPA may exclude certain classes and will often weigh the grades differently than their high school.
Read and carefully follow instructions when self-reporting grades in college applications. When self-reporting grades, carefully categorize courses. Some colleges only count English, Math, Social Studies, Science, and Foreign Language courses when they re-compute GPA.
Recently, a student listed their Public Speaking class in an “Other” category instead of in English. Having more than four years in English would have been a plus for her, but her miscategorization would have jeopardized that.
Another student took a high school Geometry class in 8th grade and made the mistake of leaving that class off her self-reported grades. That error might have disqualified her from consideration at a college she was applying to where high school Geometry was required.
When something about self-reporting grades is unclear, reread the instructions. Check with your counselor or the college if that doesn’t clarify the situation. Don’t guess.