Port Allegany Jr/Sr High School Counselor

Information on attending a 2 or 4-year college/University

Create a Solid Academic Portfolio

Your course schedule may seem like a random selection of classes to you, but college admissions officers see it as the blueprint of your high school education.  They’re looking for a solid foundation of learning that you can build on in college.

Take at least five solid academic classes every semester.  The following subjects and classes are standard fare for success in high school and beyond, whether you plan to attend a four-year, two-year, or technical school.

English (Language Arts)

Take English every year.  Traditional courses such as American and English literature help you improve your writing skills, reading comprehension, and vocabulary.

  • Literature

  • Writing/composition and/or speech

Social Studies

Understand local and world events that are happening now by studying the culture and history that has shaped them.  Social sciences round out your core curriculum.

  • Two semesters of U.S. history

  • One semester of U.S. government

  • One semester of economics

  • One semester of world history or                                 geography

  • One additional semester of these or other areas


To succeed on college entrance exams, in college math classes, and in most careers, you need algebra and geometry.  Take them early on and you’ll be able to enroll in advanced science and math in high school – and you’ll show colleges you’re ready for higher-level work.

  • Algebra I

  • Geometry

  • Algebra II

  • Trigonometry and/or calculus


Science teaches you to think analytically and to apply theories to observations of the natural world.  Laboratory classes let you test what you’ve learned through hands-on-work.  Six semesters are recommended.

  • Biology

  • Chemistry and/or physics

  • Earth/space sciences, advanced biology, advanced chemistry, or physics

Foreign Languages

Solid foreign language study shows colleges you’re willing to stretch beyond the basics.  Many colleges require at least two years of foreign language study and some prefer more.

The Arts

Research indicates that students who participate in the arts often do better in school and on standardized tests.  The arts help you recognize patterns, discern differences and similarities, and exercise your mind in unique ways, often outside of a traditional classroom setting.

Computer Courses

More and more college courses and jobs require at least a basic knowledge of computers.  Developing computer skills can also bolster your ability to complete college assignments at a faster pace.