General College Requirements

  • 4 years of English, including composition and literature
  • 3 years of Social Science
  • 3 years Natural Sciences (with labs)
  • 3 years of Mathematics
  • 2 years of Foreign Language

Colleges also look favorably on enrichment courses when they supplement a strong academic program. Courses in these areas provide important electives for H-F students who wish to enhance their course of study:

  • Fine & Performing Arts
  • Business
  • Family & Consumer Sciences
  • Technical & Applied Academics

Some thoughts to help students and their parents plan a strong four-year high-school program (in no particular order):

  • Language, writing and mathematics skills are the basic preparation for any further course of study. This is obvious for students heading off to traditional liberal arts programs. However, even community college teachers in the automotive technology, aviation mechanics and heating/air-conditioning repair programs note that students without strong Algebra skills cannot succeed in the classwork.
  • For those considering 2-year colleges: Junior colleges ARE colleges. In order to succeed, students must be prepared for college-level work. Students who have insufficient academic course preparation may not pass into college-level classes and will have to enroll in courses (under 100 level) that do not earn college credit.  (And they pay the same amount for these classes.)
  • The first thing that colleges look at when making admission decisions is the rigor of the student’s academic program in high school. They do this before they look at the actual grades and before class rank. Most students should have at least four academic classes each year, including the senior year.
  • Every student capable of doing so should plan to take four years of high school math. The ACT and SAT include questions from the areas of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II and Trigonometry. Students who do not complete classes in these areas will be under prepared for any college study.
  • The most important standardized test preparation we can give our students is through encouraging them to enroll in classes that emphasize reading/writing/mathematics.
  • A majority of colleges prefer (or require) study in foreign language while in high school. The most competitive colleges may not consider the years taken in middle school as language studied in high school. Many colleges require a minimum of two years of the same foreign language for admission. More competitive institutions will want three to four years, while in high school, of the same language.
  • All universities in Illinois require either foreign language study or fine arts study. Latin may be a good choice for students who have weaker aural skills, since it is primarily a written, rather than spoken, language.
  • Students should balance their course load over four years. It is a mistake to pack all of the college-prep classes into the first three years and “lay back” in the senior year. Competitive colleges expect that the senior year will be the most demanding.
  • For incoming freshman: Your goal should be to keep all options open throughout high school. This means balancing the basic liberal arts classes with enrichment in electives. All students need the basics and hopefully will also identify a strong interest (or even a passion) that they will pursue well beyond the minimum.  That passion may be in literature, math, science, music, art, theatre, etc., etc.
  • For students considering architecture programs: If a student is really headed that direction, s/he should take fine arts classes and may need a fine art portfolio. Mechanical or architectural drawing does not meet this expectation.