One of the best things you can do to both prepare for college and enhance your college application is to take challenging classes.
Doing so will not only get you ready for the demands of college-level work; it will also show that you are willing to push yourself and explore your intellectual limits--a characteristic admissions officers love to see.
With this in mind, which classes should you take?
The answer depends on what's available at your school. Some schools offer an "accelerated" or "honors" track, which enables you to take certain classes earlier and/or at a higher level of intensity than what is offered through the standard curriculum.
Other schools offer Advanced Placement, or AP, classes. These classes are designed to mirror college classes, emphasizing such skills like critical thinkng, reading, and writing. Many colleges will give students college credit if they perform well in AP classes.
Still other schools offer International Baccalaureate, or IB, classes. Like AP classes, these classes are taught as college classes and may be used to earn college credit at some colleges and universitites.
Learn more about ways to integrate challeging classes into your schedule. Also, check out our year-by-year checklists for suggestions about classes to take along your path to college.