What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Your Guide to Sophomore Year Course Selection

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As you enter sophomore year, you’ve had the opportunity to adjust to the new challenges high school presents. And now that you’ve gotten into the swing of things, colleges will expect more from you. At this point, you may be wondering how to choose courses this year that will improve your chances for college admission. Read on for strategies for choosing courses that are right for you and will show college admissions committees that you’re serious about your academic future.



Reflect on Freshman Year

How do you feel about the grades you earned during freshman year? Do you need to put in more effort this year?


If you didn’t do as well as you hoped, don’t worry about your freshman-year grades too much. Colleges view an upward grade trend—a progression of increasingly better grades—as a positive factor on your transcript. (Learn more about this in What Is an Upward Grade Trend?.)


That doesn’t mean you should aim low freshman year so you can show improvement. You should strive to do your best every year. If you didn’t earn the grades you wanted last year, think about why. Were you slacking off? Were you having trouble understanding the material?


If the problem was that you weren’t putting in enough effort, it’s time to buckle down and be strict with yourself. You’ll need to build good studying strategies for the rest of high school and beyond.


If the issue was that you were having trouble with the material, you should consider other approaches to learning your coursework in challenging classes. Think about asking your teachers for help or getting a tutor.



Look Ahead

When planning out your schedule for this year, you want to choose a balance of courses that will improve your chances of admissions. As a sophomore, you may not be able to take as many AP courses as you will next year, but it’s a good idea to take the ones that are available for sophomores at your high school.


If you don’t feel challenged in particular subjects, discuss options for going ahead with your guidance counselor. You might be able to skip a level or take on more electives. You could also look into self-studying AP exams.


Make sure you take the courses that are among the most rigorous available at your school. If you’re having trouble deciding among AP courses, check out How to Choose Which AP Courses and Exams to Take.

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Consider Your Abilities and Interests

Colleges look for well-rounded yet specialized students. That means you should take courses that complement your strengths and interests.


That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t challenge yourself in other areas: You should! But you should focus on your interests first and take rigorous courses in those areas before taking on others. Also consider adding electives in your specialty.


If you aren’t able to take an AP or honors course in your specialty until later in high school, look for other opportunities to pursue your passion. For instance, you could look into pursuing it through an extracurricular activity.



Talk to Your Guidance Counselor

Your course selection isn’t entirely up to you; you probably have requirements you need to meet in order to graduate. Meet with your guidance counselor regularly to make sure you’re on track. Depending on your relationship with your guidance counselor, you may want to ask her advice on electives and your balance of courses. You can also request new opportunities and more challenging courses if you don’t feel challenged in your current curriculum.



The Takeaway

When planning out your course selection for sophomore year, consider how your high school experience has been going so far, and think about whether you need to make any changes. Choose a good balance of courses, keeping your schedule rigorous while keeping yourself from getting too stressed out.


Focus on challenging courses that are aligned with your interests first. Then you’ll be in great shape to take on new challenges later in high school. For more tips on choosing courses for sophomore year, check out CollegeVine’s other posts:


How to Pick Your High School Courses Freshman and Sophomore Years

What Classes to Take Sophomore Year to Impress Selective Colleges and the Ivy League


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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.