College Prep classes are classes taught at an advanced level, to prepare you for the kind of coursework you’ll encounter in college. These could include Honors, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate classes, and North Carolina has unique opportunities through Career and College Promise options.
Whenever you have a choice, choose courses that will challenge you. They’re harder to get an A in, but they can strengthen your academic preparation, and some grades are weighted so they count for more when calculating your GPA.
Honors classes are a more challenging version of a course you’d take in high school. Tailored toward high-achieving students and involving critical thinking and in-depth study, honors classes are usually open to students in the top tier of their class. Honors grades are sometimes weighted to reflect their added difficulty. Most students find these classes challenging and a very good preparation for the college classes you’ll be taking in a few years.
AP classes are similar to Honors in rigor and pace—sometimes they’re a little harder—but they can also allow you to earn college credit. The way it works is, you take the class and get the (weighted) grade, which goes on your high school transcript. Then, you take the AP exam at the end of the year and get a score from 1 to 5. If you score high enough on the exam (usually a 3 or higher, but it depends on the college), you can get college credit for that course. AP coursework looks great on a transcript, and it can save you time and money by eliminating some of the classes you have to take in college.
The IB program offers advanced instruction to students like AP and Honors do, but the emphasis is on creative critical thinking about larger issues and global concerns. As with AP, you can earn college credit by testing well at the end of the term, but you can also elect to earn an IB diploma by taking all the required classes. Earning the diploma or just taking IB classes can bolster your college application, and IB may be especially helpful for students looking to go into majors with an international component, such as political science or business.
Other College Prep Classes
There are other classes you’ll need to get into college, as well—they vary depending on what you want to major in and where you want to go to school. If you’re looking at a pre-med program, for instance, you’ll probably want to take biology, anatomy and physiology, and other science-track courses in order to be prepared. Two years of foreign language classes are required at a lot of schools no matter what your major. Some schools want computer skills, and some look favorably on a well-rounded curriculum that includes arts as well as sciences. Look into the course requirements for programs you’re interested in, and make sure you choose your classes with college in mind. A talk with your counselor will also help you choose what to take.
NC Career and College Promise
NC Career and College Promise offers qualified North Carolina students the opportunity to begin their two- or four-year college work while they are in high school. Those eligible get a tuition-free head start on workplace and college preparation. Learn more, or watch this short video.