ALL COLLEGES care about 12th grade classes & grades and many students play them down. Students are often under the impression for example, that because UC and CSU decisions are based on 10th and 11th grade classes, their curriculum & performance in 12th grade doesn’t really matter. Every single university will ask you to list your senior year classes on applications, and they consider it heavily, so 12th grade is a year to keep your schedule robust. Many schools will then ask for fall semester grades to use in consideration while admissions decisions are made—so keeping your grades up during 12th grade matters too!
We’ve seen students lighten their academic load in 12th grade because they erroneously think it doesn’t matter to colleges—definitely not advisable. Colleges want to see the “most recent you,” academically speaking, so it is important that you continue to demonstrate your readiness for the rigors of college all the way through high school. The way to do that is to take an academic load consistent with the rest of your transcript. It’s important that you fill that senior year with academically-minded classes that pique your interest.
Community colleges can provide more of a variety of classes during the summer prior to senior year (or any year), so if you feel you need more rigor, that could be an option. Also, there is always the possibility of taking a community college class during senior year if your schedule allows for it. One important caveat—your high school needs to approve any community college class in advance, so you can get classes put on your HS transcript.
Finally, it is critical that you continue to perform academically all the way until graduation. Colleges can and will rescind offers of admission on occasion –especially if they see D’s or F’s on the final transcript. It’s important to always assume your college will care about your 12th grade performance and continue to be the student you have always been!