Graduating from high school is an academic milestone. If you plan to attend college, it is important for you to earn the proper credits in high school to gain acceptance into college. Additionally, you should take classes that will prepare you for the challenges of a college curriculum. Knowing the credits you will need and planning the courses you will take each year will help you meet the requirements for getting into the college or university of your choice.

English and Mathematics

Regardless of your major, you will need solid reading and writing skills to succeed in college. As a result, most colleges require entering freshmen to have at least for years of English or language arts. Typically, high school students take courses in world literature, American literature and British literature. These courses integrate studying literature, grammar and writing. High school students who plan to attend a college or a university should take at least three years of math. Algebra I, Algebra II and geometry are on most colleges’ lists of required mathematics courses. If you plan to major in engineering, math, science or computer science, many schools recommend four years of math.

Science and Social Studies

Science requirements vary greatly, ranging from two years to four years of study. For example, while Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) requires three years of science study. Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) requires four units of high school science. Most schools expect students to have earned credits in biology, chemistry and physics. Other courses may include anatomy and physical science. Colleges require high school graduates to have at least two years of social studies, including American history, government, civics, geography or world history.

Foreign Language and Fine Arts

Although most colleges and universities require two years of the same foreign language, universities such as Harvard University may recommend four years of foreign language study. Although many schools do not require students to have earned credit in artistic subjects like music, visual arts or theater, most states require at least one fine arts credit for students to earn their high school diploma.

Advanced Placement

If your school offers advanced placement courses, it is a good idea to take as many AP classes that you can because they are a good indicator of how prepared you are to take college courses. Currently, more than 30 AP courses covering most high school subjects are available. Scoring at least a 3 on some AP exams will earn you college credit at many institutions such as the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Georgia.


Because admissions requirements may differ for specific programs or majors within a college, it is best to check with the school you plan to attend to make sure you meet the education requirements for a particular program. For example, while most schools only require two years of a single foreign language, the nursing program at the University of Iowa requires students to have four years of a single foreign language or two years each in two languages.

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