Senior Classes: Personal Preference or College Prep

I want to be able to have as many options as possible for college but I want to be interested in my senior year. If only there were classes that would look good to colleges and would keep my interest!
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Junior year is supposed to be awful. It's supposed to be really hard and then senior year is supposed to be the year where you take classes that are interesting to you. I made sure to take classes that were incredibly difficult my junior year so that I would feel a great sense of relief my senior year. Now that I'm really looking at my options and looking at what admissions officers have to say about senior year, I'm getting worried. While I have all of the required credits and a few extra ones there are still some classes colleges want to see you take all four years. Classes that I have absolutely no interest in.

My senior year I was planning on taking AP Literature, AP French, African American Studies, Latin American Studies, Spanish 4, and Earth/Space Science. All of these are classes that hold my interest and I was really excited to take them. Since I started getting high school credits in seventh grade, every class I take now is just... extra. I have everything I need to graduate. Unfortunately, what I have to graduate isn't what admission officers want to see. My counselors say that colleges want to know that I've taken math all four years along with science and English and a language. The ideal student for most of the elite schools will also have three years of music or art.

I don't understand what sense it makes for me to take four years of math. I'm already in calculus as a junior. The only math left for me to take is a math class that teaches you the math behind math. As I am not a mathematics person, to take anything past calculus that isn't required seems like a waste.

My counselors and anyone who I talk to about college always say that the admissions officers are looking for passion. They want to see that the student is focused on something. So doesn't it make sense that my transcript would reflect my passion and my focus on literature, history, and language? If they look at my senior year classes and I've got a ton of really hard classes that don't correlate, isn't that a kid who doesn't know what they like?

Next year, I actually have a lot of options in terms of what classes that I would want to take. From the advice I'm getting, the classes that I want for next year may limit my options for college. I want to be able to have as many options as possible for college but I want to be interested in my senior year. If only there were classes I could take that would look good to colleges and would keep my interest! One option that I do have for next year is to do a senior experience, which is kind of an independent study. I would be able to take a few classes at school and then do another project on my own. The awesome thing about doing senior experience is that colleges will for sure see that I am focused. I would be able to design a project where I could research and learn about whatever I wanted to. This would be the ultimate freedom and I would be interested in what I was doing. The downside to senior experience is that there is a large possibility I wouldn't be able to do any after-school activities. Also, I would miss out on the day-to-day pleasures of high school. I mean, sure, for the most part high school can be sort of a drag but there are some things that can be nice that we don't really think about. For instance, sitting at the lunch table and having a good discussion with friends. Another one of those daily pleasures is just seeing familiar faces and saying hi in the hallway. These are things that I love and would totally miss if I spent the majority of the day not at school.

The last three years I've worked hard to earn a little freedom senior year. But trying to please admissions officers may limit my options. Its incredibly confusing because I don't know if they would rather see me focused or see the traditional classes that make me look like every other aspiring college student. Even if I did manage to avoid that problem by working on my own project, I still would be sacrificing something. I would be sacrificing the simple daily pleasures of high school. I know I'm not the first to face such a dilemma. I could use the wisdom of those who have gone before me.

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