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Grades and strength of high school curriculum are among the top factors college admissions officers weigh when vetting freshman applicants, according to a report released in 2016 from the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

Families navigating the selection of high school classes can use the following do’s and don’ts for guidance.

Do create a rigorous – yet balanced – schedule: Students should take challenging classes, such as honors or Advanced Placement courses, but they should balance their schedule with easier classes, too.

Students can talk with their teachers about what courses will offer the appropriate challenge, she says.

Parents can be the voice of reason in these conversations for what seems like an appropriate course load, says Edmunds, and sometimes need to set limits for students.

If students are not ready for a challenging class and earn a C, they could potentially create an unfavorable picture of themselves for colleges or universities they apply to, since that grade could represent many different things.

Don’t take classes for the wrong reasons: Students shouldn’t take a class just because their best friend is taking it or it’s a course they think they need to get into college.

Many students at her school feel they need to take many AP courses to get into college. The reality is that they don’t need to take every course at that particular level. Students should focus on their strengths and ensure they have time to devote to studying.

Parents shouldn’t set unrealistic expectations either, she says. Focus on where the student fits academically and don’t add pressure.