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Classes to take to prepare for college

Group of Southern Oregon University smiling graduates


Academics are the most important factor in getting into and succeeding in college.

For most colleges in Oregon, you just need to have graduated from high school or received a GED. But more credits, more rigorous classes, and better grades = more schools and more scholarships you can apply to.

Start with the basics

Not only are these required for graduating high school, all colleges want to see students with:

  • 4 years of English
  • 3 years of Math (Algebra 1 and above)
  • 3 years of Science (including two labs)
  • 3 years of Social Science like history or social studies

For more selective colleges, plan on taking 4 years of each of these core classes. Students who are interested in STEM fields should take 4 years of math and science.

Take at least two years of a second language

Do you have your heart set on being a Beaver, a Mountaineer or a Duck? If you want to go to a public university in Oregon, you'll need at least two years of a Second Language. More selective colleges will also want to see this.

Challenge yourself with rigorous classes

Colleges value students that take challenging classes in high school. Take as many honors, AP, IB and/or dual credit classes as you can. Colleges will be more impressed by respectable grades in challenging courses than by outstanding grades in easy classes.

Bonus: you may even be able to get college credit or place out of introductory classes once you're in college.

Take electives that interest you

Fill the rest of your schedule with classes that interest you, whether it's art, music, technology or business. Consider a Career and Technical Education (CTE) class to get hands-on experience.

Know the requirements

Colleges have different class and credit requirements. These are often greater than the requirements to graduate from high school. Check with the colleges you’re interested in for specific requirements.

Talk to a counselor or teacher at your school about what you plan to do after high school. They can advise you on the classes you should take to meet your goal.

Requirements for transfer students may be different than for first-year students. In general, admissions offices will pay more attention to your grades in college than your grades in high school.

Oregon first-year student requirements

Requirement High school graduation and community college Public university 4-year private college
High school diploma or GED
Minimum high school GPA   2.50-3.00 varies
High school courses   C- or better in all core classes A's and B's in rigorous courses for selective colleges
English 4 credits 4 credits 4 credits
Math 3 credits (Algebra I and above) 3 credits (Algebra I and above) 3+ credits (Algebra I and above)
Science 3 credits (2 labs) 3 credits (2 labs) 3+ credits
Social science 3 credits 3 credits 3+ credits
Second language 3 credits 2 credits 3+ credits
Arts   a full schedule of classes
Health 1 credit  
Physical education 1 credit  
Electives 6 credits  
SAT or ACT not required optional optional
Personal essay   may be required may be required
Letter(s) of recommendation     may be required
Extracurriculars and community involvement     leadership roles and/or evidence of commitment for selective colleges