How to pick the right classes to prepare for college

Education

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — High school students don’t have to have their entire future mapped out before applying to college.

In fact, when it comes to coursework, there are some basic strategies that can set you on the path to success.

Rob Alexander, the University of Rochester Dean of Undergraduate Admission, Financial Aid, and Enrollment Management for Arts, Sciences, and Engineering discussed some best practices Tuesday during News 8 at Noon.

“I think students should really enter high school in their first year working with a school counselor to get on the best track for college preparatory courses and they should really concentrate on the core academic subjects every year in high school taking the most rigorous English, math, foreign language, social studies, and science courses that are appropriate for them and get that guidance from someone who understands the menu of options at their school and the student’s individual strengths,” said Alexander.

This doesn’t mean a student must know what they will major in when they arrive on campus. “Ultimately, students don’t need to know,” Alexander said. “And even the students who think they know studies show that more than 75 percent of those students end up switching their major at some point during college. So students should concentrate on the critical thinking skills, the basics that are going to apply no matter what job they end up in, and no matter how technology shifts our workforce into the future. At the University of Rochester, we have a uniquely flexible curriculum that really helps students to discern what they think they’re interested in, try that out, and still have time to make changes if need be.”

When it comes to selecting high school coursework like elective classes, Alexander said students should first understand themselves and their interests and their academic strengths. “A happy student is engaged in the material, maybe with a faculty member at their school that they really love, is going to be a more motivated student and do better in the classroom. They should also think about getting that kind of advice from a school counselor who also knows them and that menu of options.”

Alexander added, “It’s about building foundational strengths, just like a house. If you don’t have a strong foundation, you’re not going to be able to build a great roof, so the students should concentrate on getting those skills that will help them in math, reading, science and do that to build that foundation as strong as possible.”

Alexander said a good resource for more information on this topic and the college application process is commonapp.org/plan.

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