Students need a number of classes to fulfill general education requirements to graduate high school. Some classes, though, can help students better prepare for the courses they will take in college. Students should determine whether they want to go to college after high school and take the appropriate college prep classes to help them gain admission.

General Education Classes

Many types of classes fall under the umbrella term of general education classes. According to North Iowa Area Community College, high school and college classes, which receive the label of general education classes, have the same goals. They give students a background in subjects such as math, the humanities, science and social sciences as well as helping students to develop reasoning and analytical skills.

College Prep Classes

High schools design their college prep courses with several goals in mind. They first want to prepare high school students for the academic work they'll do in college. College prep courses meet this goal because these classes are typically more difficult than many other general education classes. Sometimes schools label them with an "AP" or "advanced placement" designation. Additionally, many colleges have minimum application requirements; that is, there are a certain number as well as specific types of classes that these institutions want to see on a high school transcript.

Specific Considerations

Students seeking the advice of high school guidance counselors often come to them with similar questions relating to what classes they should take and how difficult they should be. Petersons.com, a website focused on advancing the academic careers of students, specifically recommends that students choose classes that emphasize reading and writing. They should also look at taking classes such as advanced math like Algebra II or a difficult science such as physics.

Generally speaking, the student taking these courses should find them challenging and difficult enough to prevent the student from having to take a remedial class once she's in college. Students also need to take a certain number of years of different classes to meet college entry requirements; most colleges and universities like to see four years of English, science, foreign language and math. Admissions counselors also look for at least three years of a lab science and two years of social studies and history.

Helpful Tips

Students don't need to reinvent the wheel to meet all of their graduation requirements, nor do they need to worry about general versus college prep classes if they don't plan to attend college. Many graduation requirements are very basic, meaning that a student must pass a certain number of years of a subject to graduate. High school graduation requirements may dictate that a student pass three years of math. Students planning to attend college could fulfill this requirement by passing three or four years of an advanced placement math. By taking these types of classes, the student not only meets the graduation requirements, but also increases his chances for college admission.