What does it mean when colleges "recommend" studying a high school subject for a number of years?

Rhiannon Schade
Director of College Counseling
Collegewise of Millburn

First, a word to the wise: when a college says something is “recommended,” you should read that as “required.” If an admission criterion is recommended and you do not do it, it becomes one more thing you need to overcome to be accepted. When a college recommends something, it means that serious applicants have done that thing, so you want to take recommendations about high school preparation (and anything else) very seriously.

Why do colleges do this? Essentially, they aim to admit students who are prepared to be academically successful in their institution. They have determined that those recommended courses serve as an adequate foundation to the education they provide. Accordingly, they ask that prospective students take those particular courses in high school. If you want to know how many years of each subject your colleges of choice recommend, you can look on their respective websites, or you can look at their profile on the College Board.

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