Access to Education

Importance of Senior year and Academic Rigor

Chase Kuhn,
Graduating Senior
Central Crossing High School

The importance of the high school senior year and academic rigor are inextricably connected to a successful academic freshmen year. There are a number of foundational research studies that show students who continue to challenge themselves academically during their senior year will perform better in a college classroom during their freshmen year.

As a result of these studies, many selective and competive colleges throughout the nation encourage high school students to challenge themselves academically in their senior year. The freshmen through junior years are important, however, the senior year is one of the most positive indicators of how well students may perform academically during the first year of college.

In the world of college admissions it has become even more compelling to identify student applicants who not only “fit” the mission of the university but also have demonstrated academic rigor and consistency in the classroom throughout high school. This holds particularly true when college representatives are reviewing high school transcripts and discover that students have made a conscientious decision to schedule an “easy” senior year schedule.

Here are several educational tips to consider when scheduling courses for your senior year.

  • Take the most challenging courses available at your high school. Honors, Advance Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB). These courses are viewed favorably by colleges and universities
  • The selection of challenging courses should be selected by ability level and you should consult with your guidance counselor prior to registering for these courses
  • Scheduling AP, IB, or Honors Courses that are too difficult will not help the student in the admission process
  • Consider what are the admissions requirements of the colleges and universities you are applying to. This will allow you to schedule senior courses that meet their admissions requirements. For example, if the college requires 3 academic units of  Math and you have completed this number at the end of your junior year, you may want to strongly consider taking an AP or Honors course in math during your senior year
  • Earn college level credit by receiving a high grade on the College Board Advance Placement Final Examination. Depending on your score many colleges and universities will award you college level credit 

The most important thing to remember going into senior year is to challenge yourself academically. Take the most challenging courses offered at your high school and remember a strong senior year is important in the college admission process.

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