How can High School limit your college options?

It’s no secret that your experience in high school affects the process of applying for colleges. Here are five characteristics that make your high school career a detriment instead of an asset during the admissions process.

1. Too broad

A high school education that includes too much filler and not enough core classes doesn’t look very impressive to a college admissions board. Avoid jumping from one extracurricular to another or taking too many elective classes.

Instead, focus on one area like music, sports or academic honors that you will be able to pursue in college. It’s all right to take electives that are not under your focus, but make classes and extracurricular activities that contribute to your long term goals your priority. For example, if you are focusing on a future in engineering, take band if you want, but don’t let it take priority over your higher level math classes—band class won’t get you into an engineering school, but a great mathematics background might.

2. Too narrow

Your high school may not have the funding or size to offer a wide range of classes. For example, you might be hoping to pursue a career in cinematography, but do not have any film, video editing, or cinema history classes available to you. Photography and composition classes can only get you so far, after all.

You may not be able to control what classes are offered by your high school, but you can look for opportunities to expand your education. Look for programs offered by local community colleges and local volunteer opportunities that give you opportunities to develop beyond what you’re learning in school. If you can’t find a program that suits your needs, create one! Pull together a film crew and cast to create your own webseries, or talk to the high school acting coach about filming the class’ performances.

3. Outdated

Unfortunately, many high schools don’t have the funding to provide cutting-edge classes. This can be a huge disadvantage, especially if you are hoping to study a technology-related field.

If your high school can’t provide what you need to progress in your interests, look outward. If your theatre program has no backdrops and a terrible sound system, audition for community theatre productions. If your school’s computer classes are stuck in the dark ages, do an internship with a local programming company. If your school offers only French and Spanish language classes, look for a tutor who can teach you Mandarin, Arabic, or Russian, or invest in foreign language software.

4. Test material oriented

In the hopes of producing higher test scores, many schools have had to cut arts and sports classes and reduce core classes to simple lectures on testing materials. While performing well on tests is important, make sure that you don’t get stuck in the read-and-regurgitate rut.

Push yourself to be creative and thoughtful. Join programs that force you to process information at a higher level, such as speech and debate. If you aren’t invested in what you are learning in school, consider work study courses or subject workshops to keep yourself passionate and engaged in learning. This will prepare you and your transcripts for college.

5. Low performance

Low test scores or a low GPA can severely limit your college options. Whether you attended a public school on the east coast or a boarding school in the Midwest won’t matter to an admissions committee, but your academic, extracurricular, and personal accomplishments certainly will.

Work hard to keep your grades up. Participate in extracurricular activities that look good on transcripts, like service clubs, sports, and academic clubs. If you didn’t perform well in high school, consider getting a two-year degree before applying to the university of your dreams. After you get your Associates, universities will no longer consider your high school transcripts during admissions.
Take advantage of the opportunities available to round out your high school transcript. Don’t let these high school disadvantages dictate what university you attend.


About the Author:

My name is Lizzie Weakley and I am a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. I went to college at The Ohio State University where I studied communications. I enjoy the outdoors and long walks in the park with my 3-year-old husky Snowball.

If you like Lizzie’s writing style, follow her on Twitter @LizzieWeakley or find her on Facebook at

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