High School Facts & Tips

Early Preparation is the Key to Academic Success

The Office of Special Programs-College Prep advises students and parents that early preparation is the key to the successful completion of high school and college.

Students who learn good study habits and how to create a proper study environment at an early age will be very well prepared for college.

The structure of the OSP-CP program is based on four key concepts:

  • Study environment
  • Study habits
  • Course of study
  • High quality academic experiences

Recommended Courses

Every Chicago high school has 'core' (or general requirement) courses that each student must take to graduate from high school. Consult the Chicago Public Schools minimum high school graduation requirements and your school counselor about the requirements of each school. Students and parents should check with the school counselor to make sure that, in addition to the core courses, students are taking the classes they will need to go on to higher education.

OSP-CP believes a rigorous, academic schedule, such as one including the courses listed below, is necessary for a student to have a successful experience in higher education. The listed courses are suggestions from which a student may choose depending on their academic and career interests.:

English/Language Arts: 4 years

  • American Literature
  • Writing/Composition
  • English Literature
  • World Literature

Mathematics: 3 or 4 years

  • Algebra I
  • Geometry
  • Algebra II
  • Trigonometry
  • Calculus

Sciences: 4 years

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth and Space Sciences
  • Physics

Social Studies/History and Geography: 3 years

  • U.S. History
  • U.S. Government
  • Geography
  • World History or World Cultures
  • Civics or Economics

Other Courses Needed

  • Foreign language (3 years of the same language)
  • Visual & Performing Arts (1 year)
  • Rigorous, academic elective
  • Computer training
  • Communications


Additional resources

College Board Page for Students - Information regarding college admissions, financial aid, and choosing a college

College Board Application Page - Advice on preparing and writing college admissions essays

College Board Page for Parents - Information directed at parents regarding scholarships and the college search process

Education Planner - Information to begin a plan your college preparation

Illinois State Board of Education - Informational profiles on institutions of higher education in Illinois

ISAC Student Portal - Preferred website for college planning by CPS