If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Making the most of high school classes

Want to join the conversation?

  • female robot grace style avatar for user Gabija
    What about European high schools?
    (5 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • spunky sam blue style avatar for user MatthewRGuthrie12
    My school for freshman year offers an Enriched Geometry class which I have chosen to not partake in in favor of the Math 1 class, which is a combination of different parts of math rather than one part of it for the entire semester. I have chosen this because this is my preferred way to learn, but am I putting myself at a disadvantage by not taking the highest level course, even if it is in a different path as they call it(integrated math such as math 1 vs. non-integrated such as algebra and geometry)?
    (5 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user AllisonGraceBruce
    Asking as a Homeschool student, I am in 11th grade and really stressing about College. How can I better prepare myself for going to College and getting the education I need for the job I want, which is Maritime Archaeology?
    (3 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • female robot ada style avatar for user Katey Gordon
      Hi Allison,
      Great question first off make sure you have a transcript, prepare for the SAT'S , volunteer within your community, Be ready to write a admissions Essay, Have a portfolio of your work and letters of recommendations​ as these all play a part of applying to college and will help prepare you for when it comes time.
      (5 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user TeriD
    What if you take Spanish 1 and 2 in middle school and Spanish 3 in high school. Do you still get credit for 3 years of a language?
    (3 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • stelly blue style avatar for user Julian Delgadillo Marin
    if a im LatinAmerican guy, but my school does not offer that type of courses, i could be consider either ?
    (4 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user Stephanie
    My children are homeschooled and for our math,programming, e.c.t we use Khan Academy. Do colleges look at your Khan Acadamy profile. Will they accept Khan Acadamy as a Elementry through high school course? Any suggestions?
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user kendra
      Good question, Stephanie! I am homeschooled, but I am mainly using KA as a supplement for math class. First, I don't think that colleges will look at your KA profile. They will look at your high school grades and test scores (ACT/SAT) as well as extracurricular activities. I don't know if colleges will accept KA as actual schooling. I would recommend either buying actual, physical math books for your kids, or if you would prefer, use online math programs, and only use KA as a supplemental tool for your kids.
      I hope this helps you!
      (4 votes)
  • female robot ada style avatar for user El-bethel Tefferi
    So the school curriculum in my country is very much different than that of America.My high school doesn't offer some of the courses and tests given in the US ( the PSAT test and AP courses for instance).Therefore I tried to catch up using the best privilege I have, the internet.I'm taking some Courses at Khan Academy and other available sources.I also read books and do other extracurricular activities. So are there any other things I need to do in order to get a college scholarship in the US?
    (3 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • duskpin sapling style avatar for user Leah Alex
    i dont understand what you mean by 3yrs of math or 3yrs of science ...Does it refer to the classes from 8th to 10th or is it from 11th to 12th? The systems are different in both section of classes. so i cant take a continuous 3 yrs of math.. I HAVE taken math only till 10th grade..Am i at a disadvantage?
    P.S -I want to go to a business school
    (3 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • piceratops seed style avatar for user nausika67
    Does College look at which school you are from becasue I am from Walt Whitman high school nation ranked 55 but I have a low Gpa and feel like my school is really hard not an excuse but just want to does it have an effect
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user ET
      They might, depends on the school. For Ex - if you come from a Ivy League, or IB school, they might take that into account, Usually, itś your GPA that's much more impportant than the school you come from though!
      (1 vote)
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Matthew DeWard
    When I was in Phoenix, Arizona, I had National Honor Society with a 3.7 GPA and with that came many scholarship opportunities. I also took Japanese for three years, not four (as I never got the chance). However, in 2011 my dad resigned from his job and we had to move elsewhere. In Texas, I was told before we moved that my credits would transfer just fine. Once I got here however, it was a completely different story. Instead of having to have 24 credits from 6 classes a year, they raised the distinguished to 32 credits because the other school had 8 classes. So my distinguishment was trashed, I wasn't allowed into National Honor Society anymore as my GPA plummeted from the extra classes.

    Instead of physics and pre-calculus, I was forced to do two elective courses Horticulture and Forestry, in which I hardly learned anything, along with another half credit of Physical Exercise. If I did otherwise they said, “You would not graduate”. Then because I had credits like World History/AZ Geography, they didn't count AZ Geography as a credit. So they gave me World History under the condition that I finish Geography as an online course to make up for what I lacked. In that online class though I finished both A and B sections of Geography In about 4 months. Really I could have done it sooner but I was boggled down from the other 8 classes I had that my brain felt like melted cheese.

    After taking Geography I opted to stay in the Online class since you couldn't do a ½ credit of pre-cal or a ½ credit of physics. In there I turned my attention to Psychology which I nailed with an 82% in less than 6 weeks time. I actually got 100%s on my tests and this other teacher that was monitoring me thought that I was cheating, so they made me re-take the test and I proved them otherwise. At the end of the year, suddenly 1 ½ credits of P.E. didn't apply anymore so the ½ credit I did was all in vain (that REALLY got to me). They made me re-do the state test exams since AIMS and TAKS are two different state tests. I passed them, although I don't know what percent I made on them, as the super-intendent came in and just told me you passed. I thought it would be nice to see what I made on my state test but alright. I also was not able to take a 4th mathematics class, although I did have 4 English classes. I didn't have any friends, so I sat through lunch hour alone. They were a lot more cliquish. Through the nervousness and anxiety of the year, I finally had to take my SAT which of course I did terrible. I made something like a 1247/2400. Maybe I'm not really smart, but that was even low for my standards. I graduated on the minimum standard of 24 credits but really had 25.5 just so that I could pass that year. If I was in Arizona I was going to graduate on distinguished, in fact I had enough credits there that I could have only had 3 classes my senior year and had a job.

    I also took a few Massive Open Online Courses on Coursera.org and Edx and have earned a few certificates (maybe not verified, but it still proves that I like to learn), as well as Khan Academy which has helped me with Math and Art History tremendously.

    Do you think if I told the College admissions people this that they might reconsider?
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user

Video transcript

- I think that the perception sometimes is that there are quotas, or there are equations or formulas or thresholds and if a student doesn't exceed the GPA threshold or the SAT threshold then they would not be considered or perhaps not even read and that's not true at all. - But knowing they were in academic institution, knowing that your preparation for that academic space is key to you being able to graduate. We do pay a lot of attention to the courses that you take and the grades that you received in those courses. - We will ask the guidance counselor "What's the highest GPA in this graduating class?" and when they give us that highest GPA in that particular graduating class, that helps us to set the bar in terms of how we evaluate your grades. - So your high school may have minimum requirements. You have to take four years of English, two years of History, maybe two years of a lab science and so forth. That's great, but the more selective college you wanna look at, the more they want you to push beyond the minimum and really push yourself and take challenging courses. So taking four years of English, great probably everybody has to do that but maybe four years of a language, four years of Science, four years of History, and so forth. So you know, going beyond the minimum for those more selective schools that's what's really gonna show them you're preparing yourself and it's gonna help you be really prepared to handle the work at a competitive college. - So for example at Virginia, students would need to take four years of English, four years of Math, three years of Science, two years of foreign language and on and on. Yet when we review applications often they have three if not four of everything. Now I will say that it's not necessarily an individual discipline or course that we're fixated on. If a student is going into engineering then yes we're looking closely at Physics, we're looking closely at Calculus, these sorts of things. But if a student is a linguist I'm not necessarily as concerned that he or she did not have Calculus. Likewise if a student is a hardcore engineer the fact that he or she has two years of Latin, that's it for foreign language, isn't as concerning to us. So it's all relative and dependent upon the school or program that they're entering at the university. - I really wanna reassure students that if your high school doesn't offer a certain set of courses we would never expect that you have taken them. So if your high school doesn't offer AP Calculus, obviously you're not gonna be disadvantaged if we don't see that on your transcript. - The question we're asking ourselves is "Have you taken advantage of the best "that your high school can offer?" And if you have done that, then you're competitive in the process. - Now we're not saying take every advanced course available at your high school, you need to find that balance for yourself. But we do wanna make sure that you are comfortable with challenging yourself every step of the way, so beyond just GPA, beyond just rank in class. What we really are more concerned with is your journey overtime, how you got there. So when we look at that transcript what we really do is take it apart year by year and course by course. We focus on the academic core primarily, Math, Science, English, History, world languages and really try and get a sense of how well you preformed in those classes. The level of rigor that you took among those classes, and again trends over time. Upward trends are really great! If you were even keel, given that you were possibly strong to begin with is usually a pretty good starting period as well. So we really again, looking for that academic trajectory, over a period of time. And that's where we tend to focus most of our energy.