I want to make sure I’m ready for college. How do I decide what classes to take?
The best advice… Challenge yourself to take the toughest classes in which you can be successful. You’ll be better prepared for success in college and many colleges consider the difficulty of an applicant’s high school curriculum in making admission decisions.
But, how do I decide which courses will be most challenging for me?
In the course descriptions, you’ll notice that a number of courses are required—for instance, certain courses in math, science, language arts, and social studies—and that each class has several options or levels, with some offering an accelerated format or a more in-depth approach for students who excel in that area of study. For some courses, especially upper-level ones, you may be able to take Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Students who take these college-level courses and do well on optional AP exams may earn college credit or skip required entry-level classes in college. Talk to your family, your teachers, your advisor, and your counselor about which option best suits your academic strengths and prepares you for the courses you’ll take in college or career training.
When do my grades start “counting” for my college applications?
Your grades start counting as soon as you start taking courses that award Carnegie Units, all of which count toward your high school GPA. Some students start taking Carnegie Unit courses in 8th grade (and take the End of Course assessment for those courses that require it for high school credit). For a student to earn high school credit for a Carnegie Unit course taken in 8th grade, a parent/guardian must sign a Carnegie Unit Credit Approval Form in the spring. Starting in 9th grade, all courses count. College admissions officers will see all of those grades on your high school transcript, and don’t weight 8th or 9th grade courses differently. Only grades in your academic courses taken in high school count toward eligibility for the HOPE Scholarship program.
I can see my grades will be important from the very beginning. How can I make sure I’ll do well in my classes?
Your teachers, your counselor, your advisor, and your family will all be behind you and encouraging you to do your best work from the first day, but a lot of your success in high school depends on you!
What are some things I can do at home?
Be organized, and keep up with homework assignments and projects. Study class lecture notes to review what was taught in class, even when you do not have assigned homework in a subject. Begin studying for a test several days ahead so you have time to review the material and retain it.
If I am not doing well in a course, what should I do?
The first step is to speak with your classroom teacher and set up a time before or after school (or during school, depending upon your schedule) for extra help from your teacher. You also may sign up for student tutoring sessions if they are available at your school. If you need additional suggestions, speak with your advisor or schedule an appointment with your school counselor.
If I am failing a class, can I drop it mid-semester?
No. Dropping a class mid-semester is not an option.
How do I make up a course if I fail?
Courses can be made up during summer school, through School-Plus or Phoenix High School courses after the school day, or the supplemental program at Gwinnett Online Campus. See your school counselor or advisor for more information.
If a student fails a course and retakes the course, is the first failed grade cancelled out?
No. Once a student earns a semester grade, it will never be removed from the academic record (transcript). Required courses must be retaken if failed. Both semester grades will be a part of the academic record and the high school grade percent average (GPA), and also will be considered for HOPE Scholarship eligibility.
Do high schools award grades for “effort”?
No. High school students do not earn effort grades. Semester grades reflect your academic achievement in the class.
When are final exams?
Final exams have two parts— performance (written) and multiple choice. Final multiple-choice exams are given the last few days of the semester and each one is approximately two hours long. Students take two exams per day, and are released early on these exam days. For courses with a state-required End of Course (EOC) assessment, that exam is the multiple-choice final. Specific test dates are designated for each EOC.
Are PE and Health required courses? Do I have to take them in 9th grade?
Health and Personal Fitness (PE) are requirements for graduation in the state of Georgia. While students are encour- aged to enroll in each semester-long course during their 9th grade year, they have other options. Students interested in having more flexibility to schedule other electives may choose to take the Health and Personal Fitness courses during the summer prior to entering 9th grade. Summer options include face-to-face or virtual summer school (community school) or virtual learning via Gwinnett Online Campus. In addition, students earning three credits of Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) fulfill the Health/PE requirement for graduation. You must take Personal Fitness and Health before you take other Health and PE courses.
When will I get the drug and alcohol certificate I need for my driver’s license?
Students take part in the Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program (ADAP) during their high school Health course. By law, Georgia teens under the age of 18 are required to successfully complete ADAP in order to obtain their Class D Georgia driver’s license. Students who complete ADAP receive a completion certificate from their teacher. This certificate must be presented when applying for a driver’s license. In the event a student is not present for this program, the student may enroll in eADAP to complete the four-hour course online. The Department of Driver Services (DDS) also requires proof of school enrollment. Please contact the school registrar to obtain a certificate of school enrollment prior to applying for a learner’s permit. For complete information on driver’s license requirements, please visit the Department of Driver Services website.
Should I take another language as my elective in the 9th grade?
A minimum of two years of coursework in the same modern or classical language is required for admission to Georgia four-year colleges and universities. Many students enjoy language courses and take them all four years in high school. Specific out-of-state colleges require up to four years of modern or classical language study. Beginning study of another language in the 9th grade allows you to take additional years of study if you want or need these classes, and World Language is an Academic Pathway option.
When will I have an opportunity to take elective courses that interest me? What electives can I take?
Once you fulfill the requirements for Health and Personal Fitness— either during the school year, or in summer school— you will have more flexibility in your schedule. Elective courses are available in academic areas, fine arts, career and technical education, and PE/fitness. Your selection of a Pathway (a concentration of three or four related courses) will guide your choice of electives. Students attending one of the seven Academy high schools will take both core and elective courses reflecting one of the available Academy Pathways. If you are interested in taking courses at Maxwell High School of Technology or in the Grayson High School Technical Education Program, schedule an appointment with your school counselor to determine when you can best fit these courses into your high school schedule. If you are interested in visual or performing arts (for instance, band, drama, or photography), and hope to pursue a scholarship in the arts, you may choose a Fine Arts Pathway and plan to take
these elective courses every year. However, taking additional electives will require careful planning. See your advisor or school counselor for more information. Note: Some career and technical education courses meet the requirements for a fourth science credit, a state graduation requirement. Please see your counselor for details.
How important is it to be involved in extracurricular activities, such as clubs, sports, and volunteer projects?
School leaders recommend that all students participate in one or more extracurricular activity while in high school. Students who are involved in activities feel more connected to the school. Also, colleges and scholarship committees frequently request information on extracurricular participation and demonstrated leadership while in high school.
Why do the high schools start so early?
The time of day high school begins is determined by the bus schedule in that school cluster. High schools begin earlier and get out earlier than other schools in the cluster, allowing students to participate in after-school sports and activities.