Your school's graduation requirements may not be rigorous enough to qualify for the college you want. Most selective colleges require a preparatory track along these lines:
4 years of English & Literature
3 to 4 years of Math (including Advanced Algebra and Trigonometry)
2 to 3 years of Foreign Language
2 to 4 years of Laboratory Science
2 years of History and Social Science
3 years of Electives from the above
- Take extra classes related to your prospective college major -- especially Honors and Advanced Placement courses. For example, if you're thinking about studying engineering, math, science, or computer science in college, take all the high school math and science courses you can.
- Take electives in music, art, journalism, etc. Breadth of knowledge is as important as depth, especially for liberal arts (non-technical) colleges. Other useful classes: typing, writing, computer science.
- To fulfill all these requirements, plan your high school schedule early. If you started college preparation late, don't panic -- you can fill in academic gaps in summer school or junior college.
Adapted from the University of Southern California http://preparingforcollege.usc.edu/