Once your student understands how a college admissions officer reviews their transcript, her or she can make educated decisions about course selection during high school. Officers look for both challenge and continuity.
Admissions officers see how a student is challenging him/herself by reading the student's school profile to determine what levels of courses are offered. Then they look at each semester to see how many courses the student took that were the most difficult level offered at the school. Admissions officers at the University of Virginia will actually count, and keep a running score of how many core classes a student took at the highest level. Therefore, students should select challenging courses in high school as long as they feel that they can handle the workload. In most cases, college admissions would rather see a B in an accelerated or AP class, then an A in a lower level course.
Course continuity is also important to colleges, especially in the core areas of math, English, language, science and history. If possible, the student should take all of these course types all four years of high school. Dropping Spanish or math in junior or senior year can be a red flag to colleges that the student doesn't want to challenge themselves. Many colleges require four years of math as a minimum requirement (including U. Mass near me), so dropping a core subject can be a deal breaker.
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