#054 High School Course Selection Tips

Show Notes


High school course selection always feels tricky balancing the needs and wants of the student, figuring out the proper level of rigor, and understanding what colleges expect. Whether your student is picking their classes this month or the next, it’s important to have those conversations now. Whether your student’s GPA, their future college admissions, or fulfilling prerequisites for future courses, the high school curriculum they choose can have a big impact. I invited my colleague Julie Spak, an independent college counselor, to discuss the choices your teen will soon be making and how you can best support them in choosing and pursuing their future goals.


The classes your student takes in high school can have a major impact on both their high school and college careers. And there’s more to strategic course selection than just loading up on AP classes. It’s important to consider which classes will be relevant to your teen’s interests and future college major. Plus, taking a rigorous course load is only impressive on a college application if the student can handle the workload and thrive. That’s why it’s vital to really consider which classes will be best for a student’s long-term goals.

In this episode, I speak with my friend and colleague, Julie Spak, about the best ways for your family to approach selecting courses for your teen. To start, it’s always a good idea to learn as much as possible about the curriculum offered each school year – expect changes from year to year. This might mean attending informational meetings, academic fairs, or simply reading the course catalog online.

We advise once you start selecting courses, it’s important that you think about future school years as well. This means that even freshman students should consider what they want to study in their senior year. After all, they don’t want to be prevented from signing up for a vital class later because they didn’t take the prerequisites.

And if your teen will be a junior next year, it’s important to remember their senior year is not for slacking! Colleges will look at senior year transcripts, so you don’t want to skip that fourth year of math, load up on fluff, or fail to take your coursework seriously.

Ultimately, every class a student takes in high school will be important to their future. That’s why taking the course selection process seriously is so essential. Fortunately, if you need a little guidance, this episode is full of insights, tips, and tricks.


  • How to build the right high school schedule
  • Understanding college minimum and recommended requirements
  • Advice for those applying to highly selective colleges
  • Mistakes to avoid in choosing which high school courses to take

Meet Our Guest

A decade of collaboration in helping students thrive with LEAP and Flourish!  

Listen on…the Flourish Site, Spotify, Apple, Google, Amazon Music, Stitcher, or your favorite platform. 

“College & Career Clarity with Lisa is so helpful!”  ← Is that you? If so, please consider rating and reviewing my show so I can resource more families and eliminate overwhelm. Thank you!!

Links mentioned in this episode

Launch College & Career Clarity Course

Launch College and Career Clarity Facebook Community

Find Julie on LinkedIn

Julie at LEAP


[0:42] Intro

[2:22] When do high schools start scheduling courses?

[3:30] Should families attend the school’s informational meetings about course selection?

[5:33] Why you should pay attention to the curriculum guides

[7:50] Plan for future semesters by taking prerequisites

[9:35] Review college websites for their high school course selection recommendations

[11:20] The common data set

[12:29] Why senior year classes are just as important

[14:50] Check the AP and dual enrollment credit policy for each college you are interested in

[17:48] The importance of senior year math classes

[21:23] Choosing when you should take an AP class

[23:39] The benefits of taking foreign language classes

[26:17] What defines a fluff class, and why should you avoid them?

[28:14] Julie’s contact information

[28:46] Wrap-up

Access the episode transcript here.