JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Course Planning

Your college-bound students are likely to look to you, their counselor, for advice about planning their high school course schedule to ensure they’re taking the correct classes to get into college, including any electives that interest them.  Remind them that some college majors have additional course requirements, and different colleges have different standard requirements.

Recommended College Prep Courses

The Illinois Board of Higher Education recommends that college-bound students take at least the following high school courses:

  • Four years of English
  • Three years of mathematics, including algebra and geometry
  • Three years of laboratory science, including biology and chemistry
  • Three years of social studies, including history and government
  • Two years of electives, chosen from foreign language, music, visual arts, theater, dance and vocational education.

AP Courses

Advanced Placement (AP) courses are college-level classes that can be taken in high school to earn college credit.  Students who do well in a specific subject may want to consider taking an AP course (if available) as a way of reducing the number of courses necessary in college.  If the student scores high enough on the AP exam (a fee is charged for the exam), college credit is earned.

AP courses are recognized as difficult by colleges, and therefore, taking an AP course may also increase a student’s chances of getting into college.  It is likely as well that taking an AP course in high school will cost less than taking the same course in college.

Students should be encouraged to choose an AP subject with which they feel comfortable.