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Highest Rigor Courses Necessary?

college3981college3981 11 replies4 threads Junior Member
Hello, I am currently a sophomore, and would like to know if it is necessary to take the highest level courses offered at my high school in order to go to an ivy or top 30 schools? For example, I took 2 CP courses my freshman year, I am taking 1 CP course during my sophomore year (not taking APUSH but honors), taking all honors next year but not AP Lang (I will take APUSH next year as it is a two year course) and senior year plan on taking all APs. However, junior year, I am self-studying for AP Psych. Thank you in advance.
8 replies
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Replies to: Highest Rigor Courses Necessary?

  • skieuropeskieurope 41093 replies7739 threads Super Moderator
    The question is one that needs to be posed to your GC, as s/he is the one who will rate your course difficulty. Taking CP where no honors is available is different from taking CP in lieu of honors.
    not AP Lang (I will take APUSH
    Why not both? It's probably a better strategy to even out the courseload a bit between junior and senior years.
    I am self-studying for AP Psych
    Does not matter for rigor,and self studying impresses nobody.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43284 replies471 threads Senior Member
    For the level of colleges you're listing, junior year would have 2-3 "core" AP's (Lang, USH, Calc AB, Foreign Language, Bio, Physics 1...) as well as senior year (3-4)
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  • HamurtleHamurtle 2740 replies36 threads Senior Member
    And your college counselor will list if your classes are considered ‘most rigorous’ on your transcript. If your school doesn’t offer that many honors/AP then that is fine. But if you don’t take APs/honors if they are offered at your school, then that would be detrimental to your chances.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30504 replies59 threads Senior Member
    It’s important to the top schools unless you have some outstanding reason not to be taking those courses. Such as being a world class something or other. Doing some truly eye opening thing. Having challenging environment. Curriculum strength is something specifically rated in applications at competitive colleges.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35421 replies399 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2019
    When you want a rigorous college, you need a rigorous hs preparation. Theyll look at your transcript for this. Not just that the GC says so, but that you chose it, when available.

    There are some exceptions. But theyll see your choices. At least one of the AP English courses. Multiple AP core history, plus the lab sciences and foreign lang for x years.. Look at Ivy course recommendations on their web pages.

    Big difference between top 15 and top 30. Learn about that.
    edited April 2019
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  • bernie12bernie12 5455 replies10 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2019
    @lookingforward : There isn't necessarily that big of a difference. Depends on the "top 30" or "top 15" you are talking about. Like Emory, Rice, WUSTL, Cornell, Georgetown, Brown, Vanderbilt etc are very similar in caliber (and also pretty damned hard to get into) in academics and are similarly sized (except Cornell being larger I guess) yet some are top 15-20, and a couple are top 30. With larger schools, I could throw in Berkeley and USC. I would never argue that these schools are particularly different in caliber at the undergraduate level (or that their ranks even correlate with any differences that may exist in that) and what they are looking for in applicants though some may emphasize test scores even more than others who already emphasize test scores.

    Those cut-offs and brackets based on USNWR are meaningless depending on the set of schools you are talking about. They could, for example more so reflect differences in app. volume and enrollment management (yield/test scores) than any relevant different differences to applying or what students will get upon matriculating. Plus some of the movement in rankings putting certain schools in or out of the "top 15" is very new. I'm sorry, but those schools didn't just suddenly get more amazing or deteriorate or change at all. Like UCLA didn't do much to leap frog over several schools into the top 20.
    edited July 2019
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  • happy1happy1 24213 replies2431 threads Super Moderator
    edited July 2019
    The person to ask is your guidance counselor, not any one of us. Rigor is relative to what is offered in your HS.

    The top tier colleges will want to see the guidance counselor check the box on the recommendation saying you have taken the most rigorous course-load available at your HS (which doesn't mean taking every AP class -- there is often some latitude in this). If the guidance counselor says that your prior and projected HS schedules are sufficient to get that most rigorous box checked then you should be fine.

    I agree with @skieurope that it isn't worth your time to self-study AP Psych. College admissions officers are generally not impressed by self-studying APs (it is not considered the same as taking the course) and AP Psych is considered one of the "easy" APs.

    Unsolicited advice -- I would not put all your focus on top 30 type schools as admissions is very competitive. When the time comes to create an application list you need to honestly asses your academic stats (including GPA, standardized tests, course rigor) as well as your financial needs and apply to a wide range of reach, match, and safety schools that appear affordable (you will have to run a net price calculator for each school you consider) and that you would be happy to attend. Expand your horizons and recognize that there are many wonderful schools out there where you can have a great 4 year experience and get where you want to go in life.

    edited July 2019
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  • skieuropeskieurope 41093 replies7739 threads Super Moderator
    edited July 2019
    This thread was unnecessarily bumped this morning after being dormant for 3 months. The OP is loooooong gone.
    edited July 2019
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