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How to Choose High School Classes for Next Year

August 8, 2013

Choosing classes can be stressful.  You need to figure out what classes you are required to take for the upcoming year. Here are 8 tips that can help you choose your classes:

  • Check out requirements
    • All schools require a certain number of core classes to fulfill their graduation requirements.
      • Core classes: Math, Science, English, History, Gym, Health, World Language (Spanish, French, Mandarin, etc.)
    • Make an appointment to meet with your guidance counselor to see which classes you are required to take for the upcoming year.
    • Also, it is a good idea to make a general map of the classes you have taken and the classes you need to take to make sure you can graduate on time.
  • Ask your teacher for class recommendations
    • If your school has different level classes such as, standard, advanced, honors, and Advanced Placement (AP), talk to your teacher to see which level would be best for you.
    • Try challenging yourself by taking an advanced, honors or AP class (with your teacher’s approval).
      • Colleges like to see these higher level classes on incoming freshman transcripts.
      • Often times the school or the department will suggest a specific pre-requisite class or indicate that a department head’s approval is needed in order to register for a class.
  • Do not overwork yourself
    • There is no need for you to take 6 AP classes in one year of high school; balance your time and your classes.
    • Yes, colleges like seeing students challenge themselves in higher level classes, but they do not like to see low grades in those classes.
      • Take 1 or 2 AP or honors level classes and balance those out with a couple easier classes so that you do not feel overwhelmed with homework.
  • Start thinking about college
    • If you are approaching your senior year, you should take into consideration what you want to study in college.
      • i.e. if you are looking into STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) majors, you should sign up to take challenging math or science classes.
    • Keep AP classes in mind.
      • If you score high enough on the AP exam you will receive college credit for that class.
        • i.e. if you take AP Spanish and pass the exam, you may receive 3 credit hours in the equivalent college class. (ex: AP Spanish=Spanish 101)
        • The only institution that can give you credit for an AP exam score is the receiving college or university.
          • Every higher education institution has its own requirements and standards for issuing college credit.
  • Ask around
    • Ask your peers about classes that you are considering.
      • Getting feedback from your peers can help you decide whether or not to take a certain class.
    • Find out which classes have the best teachers and what classes your friends are taking as well.
  • Pick electives
    • After signing up for your required classes, you may have some room open in your schedule to take elective classes (classes that are not required to graduate).
    • These fun classes can brighten up a boring schedule.
      • Class examples: interior design, graphic design I, creative writing, etc.
    • If you are not sure about which electives to take, ask around!
  • Talk to your parents
    • Even though it is your schedule, it is always good to talk about what you are taking with your parents in order to get their input.
      • Your parents may also have ideas about classes that you may not have considered.
    • If your parents are pushing you to take more challenging classes and you do not want to, make an appointment with your guidance counselor and get his/her opinion.
  • Talk to your friends….but do not rely on their decisions
    • Having a friend in class is great.
      • This gives you a ‘study buddy’ for exams and someone to go to if you are having trouble with homework assignments.
    • Do not take a class only because your friend is in it; take a class that interests you!
      • You can always see your friends in the hallway and at lunch.
Courtesy of CollegeDegrees360

Courtesy of CollegeDegrees360



Orenstein, H. (2013). How to Choose High School Classes for Next Year. Her Campus.  Retrieved from


Resources for International Students Studying in the U.S. (High School Edition)

July 30, 2013

Having provided a resource for international college students (Campus Resources for International Students), it is only fair that we also provide a comparable list of resources for international students who are attending high school in the U.S.

While some of these below may be very obvious student resources, please use this list as a reminder to yourself that you are never alone!

Courtesy of ecastro of Flickr

Courtesy of ecastro on Flickr

The International Student Admissions Office

  • The admissions staff (Director of Admissions, Admissions Associate, and perhaps your school has a International Student Coordinator) can assist you to find answers to questions regarding your I-20, requirements to keep your status as an F-1 student, etc.
  • In addition, they may assign you a student guide for you to shadow and organize the international student orientation, as well as other events specifically for international students.
  • It is often possible to drop in without making an appointment.

The Faculty

  • Your teachers, also known as faculty, are generally available to assist students struggling with an assignment or an idea that was taught during class. It is acceptable to approach a teacher right after class if you have a quick question.
  • Teachers usually communicate when they are available outside of class time at the beginning of the school year. Sometimes, the days and times are written in the class syllabus, so never throw out your syllabi!
  • Teachers may also be available upon appointment. A teacher may choose to schedule a specific date and time to meet with a student asking for extra help; especially if the student needs more 1:1 attention. Please understand that no teacher is required to do this for students, so be sure to show your appreciation by showing up prepared and on time.

The Guidance Office

  • Your guidance counselor, sometimes called the academic advisor, will help you plan and register for the classes you will be taking at your high school. At larger schools, the position may be filled by the academic dean. The staff at the guidance office will keep you aware of what you need to know to graduate—if a high school diploma is part of your plans.
  • Depending on your school, the guidance staff may also counsel you during the college selection and application process. If you are appointed a separate college counselor, know that you have two different staff members helping you through your high school years and beyond!
  • It is often possible to drop in without making an appointment, but if you have a complicated or lengthy question, making an appointment is recommended.

The Social Work Office

  • Many high schools and middle schools have a school counselor or social worker. Schools that do not employ a professional to provide counseling services may have a Dean of Students or an administrator, i.e. your school’s principal or vice principal, with whom you are encouraged to discuss any academic or personal issues.
  • It could be that a teacher or guidance counselor has asked you to meet with the school counselor or principal. You are not in trouble. The school counselor or principal works to provide you with more attention so that you may focus on finding a solution to the problem.
  • It is often possible to drop in without making an appointment.

The Learning Resource Center

  • Your school may have a center that provides additional academic support and/or other services, i.e. proofreading of student essays, assistance with internet database research, etc.
  • This facility is usually managed by a member of the faculty or staff, and sometimes they are also staffed with peer tutors who assist their classmates with homework assignments or projects.
  • It is often possible to drop in without making an appointment, but it is highly recommended that students learn when the center is open you can plan ahead to stop by during lunch, study hall, or before/after school.

The Host Family

  • Your host parents and family members are familiar with the American school system. If you do not believe that they have the knowledge to assist you with course selection or a homework assignment, your hosts can at least help you decide which of the school administrators/faculty/staff is qualified to counsel you.
  • Your host parents, much like your parents back home, are going to be alert and able to recognize when you need help, even if you do not know it yourself or say it aloud.
  • Your host parents can help you communicate with the school and coach you on the appropriate way to navigate the school system so that you get the help that you need.

The Program’s Student Coordinator

  • Your program’s student coordinator will help you and your parents to understand school policies, procedures, as well as homestay guidelines. Understanding these things is important so that you are in a position to know when you are entitled to assistance from the host, school, or program.
  • The student coordinator generally tracks the student’s academic performance, and the school provides this information to the coordinator on a regular basis. So please do not be surprised if the coordinator approaches you first about your academic progress—or lack of progress.
  • The student coordinator may suggest certain study and time management tools throughout the school year. In addition, the student coordinator may introduce you to a tutor as an additional measure if you continue to struggle academically.

Lastly, we suggest that you be prepared prior to your arrival to the U.S.! Your school’s website is a great resource! Students can often find the calendar, course catalog (also known as the curriculum guide), lunch information, school handbook, summer reading lists, and uniform information on the school website!

Campus Resources for International Students

July 25, 2013

Beginning college can be a scary, yet exciting new experience.  For international students it can be even more nerve racking because they are beginning college in an entirely new country, with no friends or family close by.  Here are some great resources that colleges offer their international students!

  • The International Student Office
    • Advisors at your international student office can help you with visa and immigration issues.
    • They also offer cultural events and community outreach programs for international students.
    • You may need to make an appointment.
  • Your Professors
    • Your professors are there to help you.
    • Go to Office Hours to get help from your professors.
      • They create Office Hours to give students extra help if they did not understand what was being taught during class or if they need to go over a grade on an essay or exam.
      • Office Hours are also great because they allow students who are too nervous to ask questions during class to ask their questions in a more private setting without feeling judged by others.
  • Your Academic Advisor
    • Your academic advisor is the person you go to with questions about your class schedule.
    • They tell you whether you are on track to graduate on time or if you need to take specific classes (requirements) for your major or minor.
    • You may need to make an appointment.
  • The Counseling Center
    • If you are feeling stressed about school work or homesick, utilize the counseling center.
      • Counselors are there to listen to your problems and help you figure out a way to become less stressed or homesick.
    • You may need to make an appointment.
  • The Writing Center
    • Writing techniques are different in every country.
    • Even if you passed the TOEFL exam, you may still need to perfect your English when it comes to writing essays for class.
    • The writing center is a great place to get help.
      • Your peers at the writing center can help you with your grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation.
    • You may need to make an appointment.
  • The Career Services Center
    • The career services center can help you determine what jobs or internships for which you are eligible for as an international student.
    • They can also help you write your resume, conduct mock job interviews, and let you know what career fairs are coming up on campus.
    • You may need to make an appointment.
  • The Legal Services Center
    • The legal services center is a great place to stop by if you are curious about legal issues or U.S. laws.
    • At the Legal Services Center you can get all of the information you need to know about being safe and smart about drinking alcohol, sexual harassment, driving laws and being questioned by police on campus.
    • You may need to make an appointment.
  • The Student Union
    • The student union is a great place to make new friends.
      • The student union is a place where students can go to study, get coffee or food, and meet up with friends.
        • Also, offered at the student union are free comedy shows and live music.
        • If you sit down at a table with another person at the student union, say ‘Hi!’ (That person could become your new friend!)
    • Surround yourself with all kinds of people, not just those from your home country.
Courtesy of University of Nottingham (uonottingham)

Courtesy of University of Nottingham (uonottingham)




Hopkins, K. (2013). Campus Resources for international Students. USNews. Retrieved from