Greetings Middle & High School Families!

This is the third of a series on  High School Course Planning for the 2021-22 Academic Year. 

AP, IB, AICE  Academies were discussed in my previous two blogs:

Today we focus on High School Students and


If you want the punchline – it’s this:  Whether you’re attending high school in Boulder Colorado or Boca Raton, Florida— you are facing the same choices about course curriculum options.  If you’re STEM, Humanities, Arts, Business – or undecided– your college application will be evaluated similarly.  But most important- what type of education are you seeking and will you be prepared for subsequent undergraduate courses. These points are discussed in parts 1 and 11 of this series on high school planning.

Dual Enrollment courses- – the punchline:  rarely challenging, and should only be considered if these enrich or supplement the available high school courses.  Never plan on enrolling in dual enrollment coures as a replacement for your high school course offerings — that’s frowned upon in college admissions and considered avoidance – and the mind wonders what’s being avoided? At this time of year, students and parents considering the subsequent year’s course selections wonder about whether taking collegiate level coursework is valuable- aside from increasing a weighted GPA, or the perceived expectation that students should do so-  “Academies”, AP classes, AICE vs. IB diplomas and “Dual-Enrollment” classes can be appropriate if a part of your plan — what’s your plan? ON TARGET?  

Whether your dream college is a highly selective university, the Ivy League, a liberal arts college, your state’s flagship – or any one of several outstanding academic institutions throughout the country (“FIT”??l) – – please consider the following as you prepare to select your coursework for next year:

  • One of the most important aspects of your high school academic experience is taking coursework that  prepares you to succeed in subsequent and increasingly complex courses. This is your EDUCATION!! Please follow your heart- not the crowd. As you’ll read about below, the importance of having a foundation in STEM coursework cannot be overstated (even if you aren’t a STEM student!).
  • In addition, your courses should allow you to explore and discover beyond your comfort zone. Why should any 14 to 17 year old young adult be 100% certain of a path – take interesting electives!!  Don’t waste your available spaces on courses that teach little and electives that will likely be removed from your calculated GPA by college admissions officer (yes, that’s right- those none core courses are removed in most situations!!)
  • Finally- your coursework should always be challenging but not more than you can comfortably manage.  I lost track of the number of parents and families that thanked me for talking them out of enrolling in seven AP classes!  (Read my Google Reviews)

HIGH SCHOOL CURRICULUM: Beyond the high school graduation requirements in your state (20 to 24 credits), the classes you select serve some important roles:

  • Courses, and in particular-your electives- can help each student explore, develop and deepen an academic interest.
  • Core/required and elective courses allow students to better prepare for subsequent academic success.  Sequencing is important as are appropriate challenges. For example, a foundation in math is essential for STEM fields and Business curriculum.  AP art can develop core skills and expand a portfolio.  Completing courses in high school is essential for proper academic placement as undergraduates — but even more important– the ability to hold your own when arriving on a college campus rests squarely on the quality of courses taken in high school.
  • As discussed in depth below, the transcript reveals a student’s ability to succeed as a undergraduate and has a direct impact on the likelihood of college admission.  Avoid following the crowd! Dual Enrollment  and Special Programs

Let’s discuss whether Dual-Enrollment is right for you! 

  Some of my current juniors have expressed an interest in Dual-Enrollment courses. You may be interested in the  University of Florida’s course offerings and I share the link for your review:CLICK FOR UF DUAL ENROLLMENT DEADLINE MAY 2021 Please review potential classes and give me a shout out to explore how a specific course might fit into your strategic educational plan.  It’s important to have very clear reasons for enrolling in any course, but especially an online course as these are not always reviewed favorably by admissions representatives at the most competitive colleges.   Rising seniors should only consider courses that truly interest you and the opportunity to swap something out of your high school curriculum.  Above all, aim for something you cannot take at your high school. This isn’t a substitution process- but an enrichment opportunity.   If you are certain you plan to attend UF, FSU or a college within the Florida system,  taking English as a Dual-Enrollment class as opposed to attempting a “5” on AP Lang/Lit would potentially offer a great chance of earning transfer credit towards freshman English as a Florida college student. Given my experience as a University Professor, please keep in mind, the most competitive colleges outside of Florida will not likely accept online credits as transfer classes,  and this is especially true for  STEM classes.   For rising sophomores and juniors, Dual-Enrollment is an opportunity to possibly experience learning about an interesting subject matter not offered at your high school.   If you don’t see any courses of interest at UF, please contact me to discuss some other competitive online programs available to high school students.

“Academies” I work with students throughout the US and there is some version of South Florida’s “Academy” or “Choice” program nearly everywhere.  To middle school families, these programs look inviting and yes, there are electives that expose young adults to subject matter and readings outside the core curriculum. If you review suggested “high school curricula” at admissions websites, you’ll not find “Academies” noted. These are considered “electives”.   So, what is the value of these electives?! Their value to 9th and 10th grade students is ongoing academy discovery.  By 11th or 12th grades, these classes aren’t as academically challenging nor as valuable to a successful transition to the undergraduate experience as enrolling in more challenging AP classes.   The core subject matter can spark or solidify an interest. I have yet to find one student who indicates the concepts in these courses or the workload have been challenging.  Interesting yes– challenging– not so much!   However, if you are working on an academic assignment/project that has the potential for submission to a science fair, essay contest or  the like – these elective courses can be enriching and valuable additions to the curriculum.  ASK YOUR TEACHER for support!


Please reach out and schedule your Educational and College Admissions Assessment- Let’s Build Your College Plan – preparing your student for a success and joy.

I meet with students in-person throughout South Florida, Denver & Boulder CO, Metro NYC and anywhere virtually.

College Admissions Planning isn’t simply about your college acceptances– it’s about taking the time throughout high school to discover a passion for learning, and as I wrote about in an earlier blog- College Admissions Officers literally want to know –  “What’s Your Thing”?  What better way to respond to that essay prompt than through meaningful experiences throughout high school- including actual “competitions’!   Please schedule your College Planning Assessment with College Advisor Bonnie Rabin, PhD   or CALL 833.MY.ESSAY

Give me a call to discuss your unique situation.    

Contact Me – LET’S GET STARTED!!


Warm Regards!


Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. Educational and College Admissions Consultant
Professor Emeritus  – Cornell University Alumni Rep

Post Pandemic We Resume In-Person South Florida (Boca Raton) and Metro Denver & Boulder Colorado  << Please view our local pages for high schools and communities of service)


Florida: 561.509.0021  Colorado:  720.737.9944 and Nationwide:  833.MY.ESSAY    



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College Advisor Bonnie Rabin, PhD reviewing College Acceptances