There is often not enough importance placed on freshman year in high school, freshman year is often seen as a free year, a year to relax and get used to being in a new school. Guidance counselors often help freshman choose their classes, then ignore them until their sophomore or junior year. Students do not realize how big an impact the classes they take their freshman year will have on their future grades and GPA. So, after personally being one of the students who slacked off and then struggled for the next three years to get back on top of everything, here are a few general tips on how to successfully choose good classes.
The first step (if your school requires this) is to choose a pathway, usually when choosing a pathway there are a few options to choose between. Such as whether the student plans on going to a four-year university or to a community college or if they a going to skip college and go straight into a career. The pathway that is chosen is not set in stone it just works as a guide for basic classes that need to be taken.
Once a pathway is chosen and you begin to enroll in classes, choose ones that are of an interest to you but will also present a challenge. Try taking a few honor courses, not only will honors classes look good on your transcript but many schools weigh honors differently. Meaning that if someone takes a honors course and their final grade is a “C,” they will receive a “B” (weighted GPA) because of the weighting difference, most honors courses have a one point difference from non honors. All schools do not offer weigh honors differently so be sure to check. Taking honors early on will also prepare you for any advance placement (AP) courses that may be taken during the junior/senior year. A good ideal when enrolling in classes is to see if your school offers any college credit courses, at the high school I attended these were called Husking Bill courses or Dual Enrollment. These classes allowed you to earn college credits while still in high school and they still count towards your normal graduation credits. Generally all the college credits earned from these courses could be transferred to any of the states universities. Be sure to check your schools policy on these courses before taken them and then not being able to transfer the credit. Always make sure that when choosing classes all of your core classes and or the classes need for graduation have top priority and then if any extra slots are left fill them in with electives or if your school allows it double up on some courses.
It would be very beneficial to get to know your guidance counselor, make sure they understand what you want and what kind of track you are on, so they will be able to give you the best advice. On the same note get to know your teachers and learn to work with them. When you are having trouble in a class tell them and get the help you need early on. Do not wait until your grades drop to so low that are unable to brought back up.
While you should challenge yourself, be sure not to load yourself down with to many hard classes and participate in to many extracurricular activities, then not be able to handle them. Learn to manage your time early on and life a freshman will be so much easier. Most of all have fun join a few clubs, play a fsome sports and run for class offices. Freshman year can stressful with being in new surrounding and having to adjust to all the changes, but it can also be very fun. So make sure to start off on the right foot and make it a good experience.