Impact of Course Rigor

Checking back in after a long while. Ramping up the college process for D22. The big drama (aside from the distance learning) so far this year is my D22 moved out of honors English to regular English after the first couple weeks. She was doing fine, but it just provoked too much anxiety for her. Not worth it. But … it was her only honors class. It is looking like her course load overall will be “on-track.” D19 had only a 3.4 GPA but a much more rigorous course load than D22 will. When we were discussing dropping honors, I did tell her it took some schools she is interested in off the list automatically. But -other than the schools that obvious fall out how do you use rigor to help shape a student’s college list and assess the impact of lesser rigor on the likelihood of admittance to the school’s that stay on the list?

In my humble opinion it really depends on the school she’s applying to, her intended major, her ACT/SAT scores and how many rigorous course her HS offered. My DD graduated in May from The George Washington University University- Elliott School of International Affairs. Because she applied “test optional” rigor and resume were the most important parts of the process. She attended an international baccalaureate private school and she busted he butt from start to finish (GPA 4.16). She’d never been a great standardized test taker…hence the “test optional” (her highest ACT was 22). The rigor earned her a Presidential Academic Scholarship and University Honors Program admission. She was also admitted to American University’s School of International Service and the Global Scholars Program. Both GWU and American were “test optional” based on her intended major/minor. Had she wanted to major/minor in the S.T.E.M. she would have been required to submit ACT/SAT scores.

She applied to Yale, Georgetown and Amherst and was denied. We/she knew this was pushing it but why not try.

She applied to University of Georgia- School of Public and International Affairs…was admitted w/no scholarship.

She applied to Wellesley College and made it to the “possible” round but withdrew because she’d gotten into GWU-ESIA which was her #1 (she’d done a summer program at Yale…loved the school but didn’t care for New Haven?).

She applied to Loyola-Chicago and was admitted with a huge scholarship…and was also admitted to the Rome Start Program in Italy.

Lastly, she applied to the University of Chicago. The admissions officer said she had an outstanding application/resume but her scores were to low…the school went “test optional” the next year?.

Dropping one level in one class likely won’t make a huge difference in your D’s overall level of course rigor.

I think this is best discussed with your D’s guidance counselor who should have the best idea of where students with your D’s level of schedule rigor/GPA from your HS have successfully applied.

I think its so cool how so many parents are actively involved in their child’s college process. Its something that is very lacking in my community

It’s fine! She doesn’t sound like a kid, even with honors English, who was going to be gunning for the most highly selective schools out there. It’s all about fit, and she will have plenty of options without having those in the mix.

High school should not be an extended college admissions exercise - it is its own experience and time of life. If your D was feeling stressed out, she made a good decision.

It’s probably important to help her understand how she just exercised an important life skill to get balance and sanity. We all need to do that in various ways though our lives.

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I think a lot can also depend on the reputation fo your HS. My D20 only took one AP and a couple honors classes in HS. Her GPA when she was applying was around a 3.8 and her weighted GPA was not much higher. She applied to a wide range of schools and was accepted everywhere she applied. Probably her biggest reaches were American, Fordham, Loyola Marymount and Dickinson. I should add that her EC’s were very weak but her rec’s and essay were very good. I don’t think her “Why XYZ” school essays were all that great as some schools she added at the last minute, like LMU, and really didn’t know much about the school. I do think the reputation of her HS helped and she wrote about mental health and suicide in her essay (forbidden essay topics here on CC) and she received many personal comments about the essay and how touching it was.

I guess my point is that I wouldn’t stress too much about rigor. My daughter ended up going to a school with less rigor than some of her higher rated schools and is being challenged in her classes. If they can’t handle 5 AP’a in HS then they probably wouldn’t survive at a T30 anyways so why push them in that direction.

Is she on track to take the 5 core classes (English, Math, Science, Social Science, Foreign language) each year, and at least one more class?
Will she have taken precalculus by graduation? Bio/chem/Physics?
Any chance she might take APES and/or AP Human Geography senior year (some of the easier AP’s, but good prep for college).
What’s her GPA?
What colleges is she thinking of?