FAQ Friday: What classes should you take?

The JHU course catalog for 2011-2013. The real version of this sucker is over 670 pages. That's a lot of classes!

Back when some of us Hopkins Insider contributors were young lads and lasses, choosing our high school schedules was simple. We’d call or pass a carefully folded note to our bff (text? E-mail? What are these strange things you speak of? What’s this face book? And get off our lawn!) and see what classes he or she was taking. Then, using our No. 2 pencil, we’d carefully write the same classes down on the appropriate paper and get back to trying to beat our own high score for Snake on our TI-82s.

The original text message-r?
The original text message-r?

We realize that the high school experience has changed a little. There’s more focus on college applications and test scores and class selection and, sadly, less attention paid to sneaking your Walkman into class or trying to figure out coded messages on your beeper, which was also snuck into class. This shift has led to this FAQ Friday’s topic: What classes should you take?

This is an easy one. We can’t tell you. Thanks for reading!

What’s that? You want more information? Here’s what we can tell you about your high school course selection:

  1. In general, recommended preparation for all students includes four years of each of the following subjects: English, mathematics, foreign language, science with laboratory, and history/social science. It is recommended that students take five core academic courses each year throughout high school, focusing on academic core classes over elective classes. This also applies to questions about dropping an academic class—if you need to do that, you should make sure that you’re replacing an academic class with another academic class rather than an elective.
  2. We also recommend that students pursue the most advanced level courses offered at their school. Johns Hopkins University considers AP and IB programs to be the most rigorous available to students, but we don’t have a preference of one program over another. These are only recommendations and not requirements. We have no specific course requirements for applicants. In fact, the application requirements we do have can be found here: http://apply.jhu.edu/apply/deadlines.html.

Seem like generic advice? That’s because every prospective student has an individual record from his or her high school, so it’s not possible for us to suggest specific enrollment options. When you apply, you’re considered as an individual and your regional counselor will be familiar with your high school and all of the options available there, which means the person reading your file will have a better context for reviewing your course selection. The application also gives us a much more complete picture of you. Your extracurricular interests, full high school record, recommendations, and essays will tell us a lot about you and your academic choices. We can’t get that from an e-mail that says, “So should I take physics?”

Nobel prize-winning physics professor Adam Riess with his colleagues.
Nobel prize-winning physics professor Adam Riess with his colleagues.

We can’t tell you whether you should take physics (although if you’re considering applying here, we do have an amazing physics department. Ahem…nobel prize winning faculty…no big deal or anything) but we can give you some advice. First, your college or guidance counselor is a great resource for you as you try to select your classes. He or she should know what academic paths are available at your particular school and the best classes for you to take to stay on track with your goals. Second, you can do a little research on y our own. If you’re interested in a specific program at JHU or any other school, check out the academic catalog and see what kinds of courses are offered in that program. Read up on what topics are covered and what students are learning at a college level. That might help you determine how you can best prepare yourself. After all, you know yourself better than we do, so you know what you still need to learn and what your school offers that might help you with that.

 

The JHU course catalog for 2011-2013. The real version of this sucker is over 670 pages. That's a lot of classes!
The JHU course catalog for 2011-2013. The real version of this sucker is over 670 pages. That's a lot of classes!

So, in short: we’ve given you the bare basics as a suggestion, and now you should go talk with your guidance counselor and then do some research so you can give yourself good advice. For that last part, maybe just don’t give yourself advice out loud. You might scare people.

Now, where did we put that No. 2 pencil? Our NKOTB cassette tape is unwinding and we need the pencil to crank it back in place…

Thanks to advances in modern technology, many of you will never know the dismay that is associated with this image.
Thanks to advances in modern technology, many of you will never know the dismay that is associated with this image.

Have a great weekend!