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6 Tips For Building a Senior Schedule That Will Impress Colleges


As a second semester Junior choosing your classes for next year, you are faced with an interesting dilemma: do you relax during your Senior year, or do you keep studying hard and taking difficult classes?


On the one hand, most colleges will evaluate you on your grades from your first three years of high school while paying less attention to your senior year grades. So, it may be the perfect time to take some harder classes with little grade pressure. On the other hand, you may want to relax after three years of hard work, especially if you have four years of challenging college courses in your future.


Regardless of where your head is at right now, the bottom line is this: If you want to impress colleges, you need to create a senior schedule that shows that you are willing to challenge yourself and continue to learn regardless of whether colleges are looking or not. To learn what specific strategies to employ in order to build a senior year schedule that will impress colleges, read on.



1. Kick Your Course Load Up a Notch

When you’re a senior, there is a huge temptation to take easy electives, early dismissal, study hall, and other freebie courses that will give you more time to have fun during your senior year. While it is important to have fun and enjoy yourself, you won’t do anything to impress colleges by padding your schedule with easy electives and free blocks of time.


Instead, you need to avoid these easy options altogether and fill your school schedule with classes and electives that will actually challenge you and keep your mind engaged. Think about it this way: If the class isn’t engaging enough for you to be able to talk about it in a college interview, you shouldn’t be taking it.



2. Advocate For Yourself

We at CollegeVine understand that sometimes the logistics of class scheduling do not work in your favor. Sometimes you don’t get all of the classes that you want, either because two classes you need are offered at the same time or because the class filled up quickly. It’s usually not your fault. These things just happen sometimes.


If you find yourself in the precarious situation where you are unable to get into a certain course that you really want to take, it’s your job to do something about it. You need to respectfully approach the school counselor in charge of scheduling and see if there is anything you can do to join a certain course.


If there is truly nothing you can do to enroll in the class, see if there is some alternative you can pursue in order to learn the course material without being in the class (e.g. an independent study elective, an online course, going to your local community college to take the course, etc).


As you approach your school administrators, please remember that you are not the only student with scheduling issues, and these counselors are very busy trying to get every student’s schedule exactly how they want it. Thus, it’s important when speaking to administrators to be nothing but respectful and understanding. You won’t get what you want by yelling and being mean.

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3. Keep It Rigorous

Just because you’ve fulfilled most of the school requirements for your state and school district doesn’t mean that you’ve fulfilled the expectations of those selective colleges that you hope to apply to.


Most colleges want to see that you’ve been able to excel in your classes given a relatively difficult course load. This means that, during your senior year, you need to set a goal of at least 5 rigorous courses from the five core academic areas. This could mean instead of a foreign language, you double up on math classes. It could even entail something like foregoing science to take AP World History.  



4. Don’t Follow the Crowd

Your friends may be taking a light senior year with relatively easy courses. Just because that is the path they’re taking doesn’t mean that is the path you should take. Instead of choosing the same path as your friends or taking the same classes as them, you should take the classes that you are genuinely interested in and that excite you.


You should also be taking the classes that move you closer to your college goals. This means that if you’re going to be an econ major, you take some extra economics and calculus courses. Similarly, if you’re going to be a history major, take AP European history, world history, etc.



5. Fulfill College Requirements

Sometimes, your school or state does not require the same courses as the colleges you want to apply to. For instance, your school district may require you to take two years of a foreign language, but the colleges you’re applying to may want to see at least three years.


You should do your research ahead of time to see if this is case with any of the colleges you’re applying to. For all you know, you may need to sign up for that third year of a Spanish class this year in order to get into the college of your choice.



6. Make Sure You’re On Track To Graduate

Impressing colleges with your schedule will be useless if you can’t graduate on time. Make sure that, during your senior year, you’ve signed up for all of the required courses that will put you on track to graduate at the end of the year. Usually, this means signing up for a few core classes like Math, science, history, and english. This may also mean taking a few electives like Keyboarding or Communications if they are required by your school district.



For More Information

Want some more advice on how to approach senior year? Here are some previous blog posts for you:


Starting 12th Grade: 7 Things You Need To Do

College Application Tips For Juniors: Where To Start

11th Graders: 9 Productive Things To Do This Summer Before Senior Year

Your Guide To 12th Grade Success


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Sadhvi Mathur
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Sadhvi is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in Economics and Media Studies. Having applied to over 8 universities, each with different application platforms and requirements, she is eager to share her knowledge now that her application process is over. Other than writing, Sadhvi's interests include dancing, playing the piano, and trying not to burn her apartment down when she cooks!