High School Classes To Take?

Sciencnerd

New Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2021
Messages
8
Hi! I know this is inconvenient given the most recent activity on here (Congrats to those that made it, to those who didn't, don't be discouraged. Maybe try again? Praying for you!), but hear me out. I'm entering high school soon, and I need some advice on what classes and extracurriculars to take if I want to get in to USAFA. I have 3 electives, and I already may be in accelerated/honors/gifted classes apart from those. I know I want to do band and JROTC, which both take all year. As for the 3rd, I'm not sure. There are not many AP classes for a freshman to take. Also, what advanced classes do you recommend? Any sports/clubs? I hope to have eagle scout at 15, and I have placed very high in FBLA competitions. Let me know if you have anything. Thank you!
 

Eagle26

C/O 2026 Applicant
Joined
Nov 17, 2020
Messages
48
It’s great you are asking these questions so early on! I am a current Junior and am starting the application process right now. The biggest thing that I wish that I had done earlier was take AP Computer Science. At my school it is open to any grade, fills a yearlong occupational/technical elective, and is a good class to get out of the way early. From what I’ve read, USAFA strongly recommends that you take a Comp. Sci. Class in High School, so that class (or any comp. sci. class if your school doesn’t offer AP) would definitely be a good option.
 

usafacellist2026

c/o 26' applicant
Joined
Mar 6, 2021
Messages
198
Hi there! Wow, like Eagle26 said, great job on looking this ahead! As well, I'm a current junior, starting the application process. Again, like Eagle26 said, take computer science (preferably AP), I unfortunately missed out since our curriculum changed and it was only available to freshman and sophomores. Once you can PM, message me and I can give you everything I've done, and what I can recommend. Again, awesome job on getting ahead!
Go Air Force!
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2019
Messages
141
https://www.academyadmissions.com/requirements/academic/

Go ahead and give that page a look... In fact, if you haven't read the entire website, start working on that too.

The gist of your high school course load should look like this:
  1. Conforms closely to the recommendations on that page
  2. Usually composed of the most challenging equivalents of each course (AP, IB, Honors, etc.)
  3. Has academic electives sprinkled in here and there
  4. Doesn't see any repeated core classes due to failing grades
Honestly, in my experience here, your high school schedule needs to be thought out carefully, but it should also be fairly intuitive. You do need to challenge yourself in your course load and excel at the tough classes. If your school offers Physics and AP Physics, go AP. US History vs AP US History? Go AP US History. Usually, I see appointees having taken 6-8 AP courses over their four years, and some honors courses on top of that.

That being said, if you know you can't handle a course, don't sign up for it. An A in Algebra is way better than a D in Calculus. The Academy wants to see you challenge yourself, and excel at the tough courses. But they don't want to see you take 17 AP courses and fail all of them.

As for electives, have fun with your choices. Take classes that will give you that little break, classes which you find enjoyable and look forward to. Sure, you should take a few academic electives like Comp Sci, but also do some non-academic ones as well. USAFA doesn't look at your non-academic electives.

You've got four years to build your package. That's plenty of time to nail down everything you need. You're on a great path as of right now. JROTC and Band are great electives. But you only get to do high school once. Don't look back after graduation and regret how you never took any fun classes. If you succeed in your core academics, that one elective isn't going to have much of an impact in either direction.
 

KiwiBird

USAFA Appointee, Co 2025
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
Messages
207
Sports are definitely important. In my applications, they showed my leadership and athletic ability. I do judo, BJJ, track, and cross country. I would recommend all of those to you. I wrote my dilemma essay about a situation I encountered in cross country, and I wrote another essay about how martial arts have taught me how to persevere through pain. So, sports, aside from the obvious athletic components, will probably even help you in other areas of your application. At least that was my experience. Good luck!
 

HCopter

Member
Joined
May 16, 2017
Messages
490
Academics: Try to get strong exposure to English (AP lang/lit), Computer Science, Chemistry, and Physics. This will give you a strong foundation and placement at USAFA. That way you will do well wherever you are placed, and possibly advanced so you can get to higher level/major specific classes faster. Work backwards from senior year and map out your academic course strategy.

Woulda/should/coulda from my DD:
Woulda taken MICRO econ to place out of entry econ class; MACRO actually places you out of higher level class and probably only used if you major in Econ (she wants to double major in Econ + one other)
Woulda tried harder in History AP to get a 5 a place out of Hist 300
Glad she still took Art Hist as it was interesting and actually helped in Eng 211 subject matter
Glad she took AP French and placed out
Glad she took Phys 1 and C as one of her life goals was to avoid taking any Phys at USAFA. Unfortunately, she now wishes she took Phys C/M to place out of Phys 215 which is a gateway class, and if you are interested in the new Space Warfare minor, it is one of 2 required classes, and so...
Woulda taken Phys C/M instead of Envir Sci to place out of Phys 215

Wonderful that band and JROTC are actual classes! Try to achieve as high as you can, make a difference, state/national award levels, leadership etc. My DD was staff and PT club captain, and the latter was much more measureable in terms of who it served and her competition performance. Plus it was very compatible with training for the CFA. Sport - look at what's available, what works with your schedule, and when in doubt, track/cross country IMO are the best IF you truly have no preference but want to do a sport. It will help with your running plus is good overall exercise.

Starting this early - my best advice is to strategize your summers - rising Junior year make studying for SAT/ACT a priority - take several tests in the summer and early fall, and then you are DONE with standardized testing. You will also have great scores for SA summer program applications plus the spillover for strong PSAT score and NM finalist etc. RESERVE your rising Sr year for all the SA summer camps/Boys or Girls state and preparing for the CFA and getting as many elements done to trigger DoDMERB during the summer before your senior year starts.
 

AcadAdmCoach

Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2017
Messages
23
I'll add a comment around Scouting. Look for an Eagle service project that requires/demonstrates strong organizational and leadership skills. Also, you might investigate serving on summer camp staffs as well as with other scouting organizations, such as Order of the Arrow, Explorers and the National Eagle Scout Association. All offer opportunities to become part of the leadership of each of these groups ithrough your local council and beyond. Best of luck with your preparations -- and have fun doing it!
 

raimius

10-Year Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
2,683
Look to do well in the most challenging classes your school offers. Having a strong foundation in math, science, and english is important.

USAFA doesn't look at your non-academic electives.
I do not think this is accurate info. What source did you get it from?
 
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