Your brain is like a muscle that grows and gets stronger when you stretch it. You wouldn’t run a marathon tomorrow without any training, right? If you’re serious about finishing the marathon, you’ll start teaching and increase your distance incrementally.
Developing a rigorous course load throughout high school requires similar training. Colleges are not looking for perfection over 4 years—they are looking for growth. Each year’s curriculum should stretch your brain a little further, but within reason, based on previous efforts. If you struggled to get a C in a particular subject region, you might not be ready to jump to the honors level the next year. But if you earned an The or B without losing sleep, you might be ready for a more rigorous challenge. As rigor increases, it’s regular to experience a slight dip in your marks while your brain-muscle gets used to it. But over the course of the year, you’ll grow, and ideally be ready for more stretching the following year.
As you consider the opportunities your high school offers to deepen your program rigor, think about your strengths plus interests, ask your current teachers pertaining to advice, and select a balance of classes that allows you to be successful.
Please also keep in mind the cost of cross-training. Marathoners don’t train simply by running 26. 2 every day – they mix long runs with medium and short runs, and also yoga or basketball or whichever cross-training catches their fancy. You have to do the same. Colleges want you to keep on deepening your after school commitments , as well as to get a complete night’s sleep and have time to unwind. Make sure your course load still enables you to live a balanced life.
For more information on this topic, pay attention to our most popular episode of Getting In: A College Trainer Conversation : Precisely Better: An A in College Prep or a B in Honors?
Becky Leichtling is a member of College Coach’s group of college admissions professionals . Becky is a graduate of the Stanford Graduate School of Schooling; prior to joining College Coach, Becky was a senior admissions officer with Tufts University and Carleton University.