Smart Course Choices
Whether or not you earn an Honors diploma, you have a wide menu of course options that will enhance your high school experience and help prepare you for college and for the real world. See how you can make one or more of the following options part of your high school résumé:
- Advanced Placement (AP): Advanced Placement (AP) courses offer you research-backed, college-level coursework with the option of taking AP tests that can earn you college creditwhich may allow you to opt out of freshmen-level college classes. Your scores on AP courses demonstrate your potential to college admissions offices, too. Taking AP courses will show colleges that you’re willing to take on a challenge —a necessary trait to succeed in college.
Learn more about Advanced Placement.
- Dual credit: Dual credit courses provide high school and college credit at the same time. Dual credit courses may be taught by high school teachers or college faculty. They may be in a high school classroom, on a college campus or online. Before committing to a dual credit course, check TransferIN.net to see how it transfers among Indiana’s colleges. And remember: the dual credit fee you’ll pay in high school is much cheaper than college tuition will be after you graduate!
Learn more about dual credit.
- International Baccalaureate: The International Baccalaureate program, available at some high schools, offers courses in languages, business and more. Whether or not you’re pursuing the International Baccalaureate diploma, you should consider adding these courses to your course list if they are available. Choose courses that align with your career interests.
Learn more about the International Baccalaureate program.
Succeed in School
Make a commitment to yourself today to do your best in school. Ask for help when you need it, and read our tips on succeeding in school to make sure you are on top of your game.
- Do your homework. Doing your homework will help you keep up your grades and develop your skills for test time. Working on problems or reading a little each day will keep the ideas fresh in your head. You’ll do better on standardized tests like the ISTEP+ if you do your homework, too.
- Pay attention. If you are tempted to talk to friends or daydream when your teacher is talking, come up with strategies to stay focused on your learning. Take notes or sit at the front of the class. You may need to talk to your parents or teacher if noisy friends are a big problem.
- Study. Don’t plan on just remembering everything before a test. You probably won’t remember as much as you think you do. Schedule time the night before a test to review the material. Take a learning style assessment to discover how you learn best. You may find that your best strategy is making flashcards or saying things out loud.
- Eat right. Making healthy food choices can help you learn better. No one can concentrate on an empty stomach! Always eat breakfast. Avoid eating a lot of sweets, especially right before a test. Watch out for sugary drinks, too. You don’t want your “sugar high” to crash right in the middle of an important exam. You can learn more about nutrition at the federal government’s ChooseMyPlate.gov site.
- Get enough sleep. Your body—including your mind—won’t function right if you don’t give yourself enough sleep. Missing a TV show for an extra hour of sleep is worth it. You will be able to pay attention better and will find it easier to remember what you’re learning in school.
Graduate on Time
Full-time college students should prepare to take at least 15 credit hours per semester in order to graduate on time. Taking a light load – even if only for one semester – can put you a semester or more behind. The 21st Century Scholarship (and many other scholarships) will only pay for eight semesters of college tuition and fees, so you’ll lose both time and money (lots of money) if you don’t keep up.
Follow these tips from Learn More Indiana to help you finish faster and save money:
- Create a completion plan. Your college advisor will help you map out which courses you should take each semester to meet requirements for your major and college. Keep the plan handy so you know what you need to do if you drop a course or switch after the semester has started. Plus, having all your college semesters laid out will give you a solid goal for college completion. As you’re creating your completion plan, you’ll notice that some courses may count towards two or more requirements. Ask your advisor to help you make smart choices so you can graduate on time.
- Commit to a major. The most important thing you can do to finish college on time is commit to a college major. Explore your skills and interests at LearnMoreIndiana.org to see which careers are a good fit for you. As you get deeper into your required courses, keep the conversation alive by interning, job shadowing, interviewing professionals, talking with your professors and getting involved in a student professional association (such as the Public Relations Student Society of America for public relations students).
- Check out community colleges and regional campuses. Don’t forget that the 21st Century Scholarship can be applied to a two-year or four-year eligible college. Both community colleges and regional campuses are a great place to start your four-year college degree. If you’re planning on transferring, contact the receiving college where you plan to earn your degree to make sure your courses can be applied towards your specific degree.
- Try summer school. Some campuses discount tuition rates in the summer, or you could enroll at a community college or another less-expensive option. The availability of state and federal financial aid varies from summer to summer, so make sure to check with your college financial aid office to see what state and federal aid is available before enrolling in summer classes.
Although summer courses can help you stay on track to graduation, don’t make the mistake of thinking summer school and internships are necessarily incompatible. Internships offer an invaluable, inside look at your industry and will help you network and decide what you want your career to look like. Check out internships available all year long across the state at IndianaIntern.net.
- Get help on campus. 21st Century Scholars’ contacts on every college campus can help you get the assistance you need, whether it’s a math tutor or someone to help you navigate a tough situation with a roommate.
More Tips for Staying on Track
- Take 15 to finish. Completing 15 credits each semester is the simplest way to earn 30 credits a year and to stay on track to earn your degree on time. Just remember: “15 to finish!”
- Complete your courses. Completed credits refer to classes in which you earn a passing letter grade of D or higher. Classes that you fail (F), withdraw from (W), or receive an incomplete in (I) do not count toward the credit completion requirement.
- Get ahead with dual credit and AP. College credits completed in high school (through dual credit or Advanced Placement courses) count toward the credit completion requirement. Check with your college advisor to make sure these credits have been applied to your credit total.
- Use the summer! Credits completed during the summer term count toward the completed credit total. You can choose to defer a portion of your scholarship for use during the summer term to help you pay for summer classes. Contact your college financial aid office for details.
- Plan remediation carefully. If you are required to take a remedial course to brush up on your math or English skills, remember that only 12 credit hours competed during your freshman year count toward your degree or the 30 credits-per-year completion requirement. Talk to your academic advisor about other options, such as a “co-requisite” model, which allows you to earn credits while honing your skills.
- Catch up on credits if you fall behind. If you don’t earn the full scholarship award in a particular year you can earn your way back into the Scholars program by completing additional credits the following year. For example, if you only completed 27 credits the first year, but completed 33 the second year for a total of 60, you would start receiving the full award again in the third year.
- Ask for help if disaster strikes. If you don’t meet the credit completion minimums you can appeal to have your award amount reinstated if you have special circumstances like illness or death in the family.
- Don’t forget the rest. In addition to the annual credit completion requirement, you must continue to honor the 21st Century Scholars Pledge, meet all financial aid (FAFSA) filing requirements and deadlines, and fulfill your college’s Satisfactory Academic Progress standards to maintain Scholarship eligibility.
- Talk to campus professionals. Work closely with your college advisor and financial aid office before making decisions regarding enrollment and dropping/ adding courses.