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Academic Planning Advice 2021-22


Most Calhoun students complete most of their minimum requirements by junior year. Most also graduate having exceeded the minimum requirements—for example, students are strongly encouraged to take a fourth year of mathematics, science, and world language. It is every student’s responsibility to make sure that they are making adequate progress toward completing these requirements. Throughout high school, your cluster advisor will use a Transcript Audit Form to help you track your progress.



Your top priority for the year ahead will be adjusting to life on the fourth floor—in some cases, to grades, and, in all cases, to the higher expectations of your teachers. Your standard curriculum will include English 9, World History 9, and Active Physics, as well as math and a world language course (French, Mandarin, or Spanish). Before your schedule is set, you might take placement tests in math and world language; these tests will assess how your current skill set aligns with Calhoun’s curriculum and will help us place you in the appropriate courses.  

Beyond your core academic courses, you also have room for a few elective courses. We strongly recommend taking a few performing or visual arts electives, so that you are making progress toward your graduation requirement in the arts. If an academic elective piques your curiosity, by all means, try one out—you might just find a new academic passion that you can build upon in the coming years.


You made it through your first year of Upper School—congratulations! It’s a good time to reflect on your experience so far. Has it been easy to keep on top of your classes? If so, try challenging yourself in more academic electives this year on top of your core courses (English 10, World History 10, Chemistry, and the next courses in the sequence for math and your world language). If you loved English this year, consider taking some literature-focused or creative writing electives. If you loved World History, take a look at the elective course offerings in Social Studies. Talk to like-minded friends who are rising juniors and seniors to find out what classes they’ve loved or found valuable. 

If you love math, you might consider taking more than one math class as a sophomore. This path is only recommended for students whose interest in math is genuine and who are excited to accelerate in the curriculum. It is not necessary to accelerate in math to be a competitive candidate for college admissions. Additionally, this path requires that you’ve met certain prerequisite requirements, which can be found in the Important Information section of this catalog.

Rising sophomores should also continue to develop their artistic interests (and earn arts credits) through continued commitment to our music ensembles or theater productions and through continued exploration within our visual arts curriculum. Students should aim to have earned at least five arts credits by the end of tenth grade in order to stay on track for graduation.


Get ready for the infamous junior year! In truth, there’s a lot to be excited about: your first elective choice in English 11, US History, Biology, and, of course, Junior Workshop will give you an unparalleled opportunity to execute a project of your own design. But it’s also true that your teachers’ expectations of you will be higher than ever—and your grades in junior year will carry more weight when colleges evaluate your transcript. You might also need to spend time preparing to take standardized tests (arguably, the real reason why students typically dread junior year).

Keep the inherent challenges of junior year in mind as you make elective choices. Because of Junior Workshop, you have only three electives this year. Make them count! Plan a balanced program that will challenge you, especially in your strongest subjects, but that will also give you the best chance to be successful.


It’s the final countdown. The world is your oyster as a senior! Although you will finish next year with Senior Work & BRiDGE, you still have four academic mods between you and graduation, and you have more say in which sixteen classes you will take than you ever have before. Your one obligation is to make sure that you will complete all graduation requirements by the end of senior year; be sure to count up your art credits, PE credits, and community service hours before choosing your classes for next year. (Students short on Community Service hours might consider registering for one of our three Community Service electives.)

Choose three single-mod English electives and three single-mod Social Studies electives to complete your graduation requirements. Note that Calhoun offers interdisciplinary, cross-listed courses (e.g. SCI/SS: Bioethics); these courses can only be counted toward one graduation requirement (e.g. either SCI or SS).  

While you will most likely have satisfied the minimum requirements for graduation in math, science, and world language, most seniors will continue to take classes in all three disciplines as a senior.  If you’re not sure about the appropriate next course in world language (French IV vs. French Conversation, for example) or math (Intro to Precalculus vs. Precalculus), consult your cluster advisor and current teacher. Students interested in science can opt to take one or more advanced science courses, and/or single-mod science electives.  

By now, you’ve begun thinking about the academic interests you might want to explore in college; keep your potential college majors in mind as you make elective choices. Remember that your entire transcript—but especially your senior year course selections—tell colleges a story about who you are, what you’re curious about, how much you are willing to challenge yourself in the classroom, and how you rise to that challenge. Finish strongly!