I remember being a high school student and not wanting to take math and science my senior year. If you know my dad, you won't be surprised to learn that he didn't care what I wanted to take. He made me take all five core academic subjects, even in my last year of high school. I didn't have a choice.
And you know what? My dad was right.
While colleges may provide a list of minimum admissions requirements on their websites, the reality is that students who go beyond these requirements are always stronger applicants.
Last night I showed the University of Delaware's website to my Application Nation group during our Zoom call on picking the right high school classes for next year. I pointed out a chart on the university's admissions page which was comprised of two columns. The first column included the minimum number of years the University of Delaware required for each core subject in high school. The second one was what the university recommended. Surprising to some, that second column indicated that the University wants students to take four years of each of the five core subjects: English, math, history, science, and foreign language.
RELATED READING: Why You Should Follow My 5-4 Plan for Course Selection
The University of Delaware's admission requirements are a reminder that colleges expect more from students, now more than ever. With declining acceptance rates and more competitive applicant pools, students need to prioritize what matters most in the admissions process. The classes students take matter just as much as the grades they get!
Students may balk at this. Frankly, I balked when I was their age. But by following that coursework, which is consistent with my "5-4 Plan," students are not only better prepared for freshman year of college, they are better positioned for the admissions process.
I think back to how my dad raised me. Fulfilling the minimum requirements was never acceptable to him. He always wanted me to go above and beyond. This approach fueled me as I was never the tallest, smartest, or most advantaged kid growing up. Still to this day, my dad's words resonate with me. When my students tell me that they don't want to take a core subject, I encourage them to do the right thing. Never just do the minimum requirements; always do more. If it worked for me, it can work for anyone.