Developing a class plan
In high school, you have more opportunities to select your classes. Choosing a variety of classes helps you figure out those you enjoy most, and in a few years when it’s time to choose a major, you may find it easier to do so.
You’ll notice some classmates take the bare minimum to skid by. They will likely regret this later if they want to apply for scholarships because many of them require a certain level of course work to qualify.
Challenge yourself with classes that are a bit tougher. Spend extra time with a teacher to help you understand the topic rather than waiting to take it on for the first time in college and the tougher classes will better prepare you for college.
The number of required years of high school classes you need to take to meet some requirements are noted for you here.
English/Language arts (4 years): You spend a great deal of time reading and writing in college, so practice it in high school. Take a variety of writing and literature classes to improve your vocabulary.
Foreign languages/Fine arts (1-3 years): Learning a foreign language and gaining an understanding of the arts challenge your brain to think differently. In today’s global economy, a second language may be your ticket to scoring that first job out of college. The ND Career and Technical Ed Scholarship requires one year; the ND Academic Scholarship requires three years.
Math (3 years): Study up! Algebra and geometry questions are included on college entrance exams. Check early with the colleges you may like to attend because some require four years of math and certain majors may have higher level prerequisite math courses.
Science (3 years): You will typically need at least three years, if not four years, of science classes for college admission. These courses expand your analytical thinking skills and help you apply theories.
Social studies (3 years): Learning from the lessons of history along with gaining an appreciation of local, state and world government and cultures are critical aspects of being a well-rounded student.
The value of a tutor
Yes, asking for help is a valuable life skill. There are many services available in college to help students with testing, tutoring and a variety of other things. It’s important to ask for help if you need it. You can’t be good at everything you try. If you are a math whiz but struggle with English composition, you have two choices: continue to struggle or spend a little extra time with a tutor to gain a better understanding. You may never sail through an English paper like you do a math assignment, but chances are you will be much more comfortable with it.
If you continue to struggle with certain aspects of classwork, consider asking to be tested for learning disabilities. A learning disability has nothing to do with your intelligence, but instead, it means you need to learn in a different way. Why is this important? You may scrape through your high school courses with a C or a D, but lose out on the opportunity to attend college if you don’t receive a proper evaluation to identify a learning disability. Just like in high school, colleges need to accommodate a learning disability, so don’t let it deter you from pursuing that dream career.
Earning college credits in high school
Dual credit courses
A dual credit course is a college course you take during high school to earn both high school and college credits. The classes are often taught at the high school during school hours. You may also be able to take classes at a college during the evening or on a weekend. Check with your school to see what dual credit course options are available.
By taking advantage of dual credit courses, you start earning college credits while still living at home. This gives you a head start on your college education, which for most people means taking less money out in student loans. The state of North Dakota offers an additional incentive as well. College students who completed dual credit coursework in high school may be eligible for the Dual-Credit Tuition Scholarship and awarded up to $750.
If you can’t afford to pay for dual credit courses, you can take out a student loan to cover the cost or apply for dual credit assistance offered by Bank of North Dakota (BND). You must meet these requirements to be eligible for dual credit assistance from BND:
- You need to be a sophomore, junior or senior attending a North Dakota high school.
- The school district superintendent or designee must approve of you taking the course. In most cases, you’ll visit with a guidance counselor or principal first.
- You need to qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch program.
- You must complete a Dual Credit Assistance Application.
Advanced Placement courses
AP courses offer North Dakota high school students the opportunity to take rigorous, college-level courses and earn college credit while in high school. Students engage in intense discussions, solve problems collaboratively, and learn to write clearly and persuasively. North Dakota AP courses are reviewed and approved by the College Board.
Choose from a variety of AP courses. Some North Dakota school districts offer AP courses in person. AP courses are also offered online through the North Dakota Center for Distance Education.
The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) provides support through an initiative which waives some or all of students’ AP testing fees for AP English, AP mathematics, AP science, and AP computer science exams. Additional information can be found on the NDDPI website.
CLEP and DSST exams
What if you could skip college classes because you already learned the material in high school? You may be able to do just that after your senior year of high school by taking CLEP or DSST exams. These are standardized tests that allow you to ‘test out’ of lower-level college courses in certain subjects. For example, let’s say you’re a bit of a biology whiz. You’ve always done well in the subject and are a member of the science club. If you score high enough on the biology CLEP test you may not need to take the class in college to fulfill the school’s requirements. Always check with the college to make sure it offers the option to test out of classes. Some base the number of credits you earn on how well you do on the test.
Both exams are offered in a wide variety of subjects, from math to business to humanities. There is a fee to take the exam, but the cost is usually less than the cost of a college class. Both tests are free to U.S. military personnel.