My stepson has an ongoing mantra these days. “I just want to get out of school.” I am more than certain he is not the only senior with senioritis setting in. Its kind of funny that he is so focused on getting out of school and at the same time working on getting into four more years of school. If getting in were only as easy as getting out.
What is required for getting out of high school is often less than what is required for your child to get into a state college, different than what is required to get into a state university or private school. Each state has different requirements for graduating from high school so it is important to verify what requirements your state has. (With common core, these should be similar but how each state and school district executes them is different.) For example, here in California the requirements to graduate from high school are:
3 years of social sciences, with economics and government in senior year
4 years of English
3 years of mathematics
2 years of science
1 year of a foreign language OR
1 year of a visual or performing arts
60 credits (or 6 year classes) of electives
For the record, this breakdown to about 5 classes for three years and 4 classes for one year or a total of 19 classes. A student taking a full load here in our local school district will have a maximum of 24 classes where four can be their extra-curricular activity such as football, basketball, etc. That is essentially 20 core educational classes. In contrast, if your child wanted to get into a California State College, then they need to stretch further (when they say recommended, really think required):
2 years of social science with 1 year of World History and 1 year of US History
4 years of English college preparatory classes
3 years of mathematics through Algebra II, 4 years recommended
2 year of lab based science, 3 years recommended
1 life sciences such as biology or anatomy
1 physical sciences such as chemistry, physics, or environmental
2 years of foreign language AND
1 year of visual or performing art
1 additional year of approved elective courses
And if your child wants to attend a University of California, they would need to add a third year of foreign language.
So while your child can graduate from high school with bare bones classes such as having gone no farther than Algebra I and similar, getting into colleges requires a higher caliber of classes. The college and university system is no different than that of any other state. Plus, many private schools, especially the higher echelon private universities, expect even more. If you want your child to go to college, then focus on the requirements to get into college.
School counselors can be great guides to navigating what is required to get out of high school and the extra needed to get into the colleges your child desires. But they are not just for your children to get information. A good counselor will meet with you as well. Not that long ago, my husband and I sat down with our son’s guidance counselor. At the time, our son was contemplating take 5 advanced placement classes. And the AP classes he was wanting to take were calculus, English (grammar), physics, US history, and Spanish. Yes, they are just as difficult as they sound. She was able to help us (and him) navigate the best courses that fit his long term goals, keeping him on the appropriate college track while creating a manageable schedule for him. Plus, we were able to track his following year’s classes to keep him in line to meet the requirements for graduation, getting into universities and college and keeping him adequately academically stimulated and balanced.
In the end, this is one of the easier aspects of getting into college. Just make sure you and your child keep in mind that getting in to college is more than getting out of high school.