The road to college begin longs before a student begins their senior year of high school. If you want to be on the college track, then you will want to know what the term "college prep" means and how you can choose the right courses to complement your strengths and increase your appeal to the top colleges and universities.

What Does ‘College Prep’ Mean?

The term college prep has a few meanings within the realm of high school. The term may be applied in the following scenarios:

  • As a way to describe the standard high school curriculum. Most high schools consider college preparation to be one of their goals, so the standard high school curriculum is designed to be a college prep structure.
  • As a way to differentiate between lower-level courses and higher-level courses. Some students who are excelling and who want to increase their likelihood of being admitted to a top university will enroll in Advanced Placement courses or other college preparatory classes that move at a faster pace and cover more challenging concepts. 
  • As a way to describe a program that helps students attain admission into college who would otherwise be unlikely to have the opportunity. 

Choosing College Prep Courses

Designing your high school schedule is no easy feat. Not only do you have to select classes that will fulfill the curriculum requirements for graduation, but you also have to choose courses that will set you on the path to success in college. Most college admissions professionals will consider the type of courses you took during college and the subject matter that was covered within those courses. 

These are a few tips you can use when selecting college prep courses in high school:

  • Begin designing your college prep schedule in your freshman or sophomore year. If you opt out of taking a lower-level math course early in your high school career, you will be limited in what math courses you will be able to enroll in during senior year.
  • Avoid enrolling in every Advanced Placement class just to earn the college credit. Instead, select the AP courses that will be most relevant to your future career choice and most helpful as you begin college. Then, balance your schedule with additional high-level courses, such as accelerated classes or International Baccalaureate electives.
  • Remember that admissions professionals consider the level of the courses that you take as well as your grades. You may think that by taking lower-level classes and getting a higher GPA that you will be in a better position during the admissions process, but many colleges want to see that you have challenged yourself by taking interesting courses that cover in-depth topics.

Your high school schedule should allow you to fulfill all of the requirements needed for graduation while also giving you an opportunity to discover new topics that might be of interest to you. By carefully selecting your courses, you will put yourself on the college prep track.