25 days ago
Admissions Advice

Small school, prestigious collage

Hey Guys!! The one thing I am concerned about and am sure many other kids are as well, is many collages require a lot of coursework. What if you are from a small-town high school that doesn't give the chance for so many courses to be taken or even provided us an opportunity, and you want to get into Harvard, or Stanford or even Columbia, the Ivy-league schools, what can we do? It's a bummer because I put these into my list and says that I don't have enough coursework, and I really can't do anything about it.

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3 answers

25 days ago[edited]

There are 6 ways to prop up your course rigor.

1. Enroll in your community college and take courses similar to advanced STEM courses like Chemistry, Bio, Calculus, and higher languages. Community college is cheap and affordable and these look good on your academic record.

2. Enroll in online college courses which you can find through search engines.

3. Enroll in AP Courses through MOOCS like eDx.org. There you can easily find over 25 online AP courses

4. Enroll in an online undergraduate course through outlier.org. These cost about the same as community college courses. IF you pass you get 3 college credits per course. If you don't you get your money back.

5. Apply to a summer college program that gives you college credit such as the Brown University or Columbia summer program. Some of these are excellent. If you are low income, you can apply for financial aid

6. Self-study for your APs that are not offered at your school and register and take the AP test in May. I'm not sure when the AP registration deadline is.

Contrary to what the other poster said, your school's lack of resources will hurt your chances of getting admitted to a top college. It's like the whole Test-optional debacle. Everyone says don't worry, your lack of a test score will not affect your admissions chances because we consider your application holistically. Bollocks, I say. It is only a holistic review of whether or not you fit what the particular college is looking for. If Columbia is looking for a coxswain for their varsity crew and an Oboe player, and you do both, well then you don't need a test score. But if you have no special skill or talent that helps them cross off the kind of class they wish to shape for the next Freshman year, then you better have a good test score. Therefore, it's just not true that applying test-optional will not hurt you, it will hurt your chances.

If you go to an underserved public school, you have to be incredibly creative and strategic if you want to get into a top Ivy or elite college. Believe me, there are tens of thousands of public school seniors who have lacking course rigor and perfect grades who will not be given the time of day at any of these schools. If it didn't matter then these schools would be full of students who never took APs or IBs or honors classes or dual enrollment classes. This week I read an article about some West African kid who got a full ride to Harvard or some other Ivy. His school didn't have APs. But this young man self-studied like 6 APs or more and got high AP test scores on all of them. So it pays to think outside of the school box, and do whatever it takes to get into your dream school. Everyone else who is not worried about taking the SAT or ACT or APs is just fooling themselves.

Last year 401,000 kids applied to 8 Ivys that had only 14,000 seats. And it's fair to say that 4,000 of those seats were already reserved for legacies, recruited athletes, development candidates, VIPS, and kids of school employees. So 10000/401000 is a much smaller number than what anyone thinks off the top of their heads just 2.5%.

Therefore, do whatever you can outside of school to help your academic narrative. Someone at a great college will take notice and reward you for being a contrarian and not part of the flock waiting for someone to pick them.

Good luck.

24 days ago

Hi, thank you for asking your question. I would say there are a few things to consider in your particular situation, and you are not alone in this! Many under-resourced schools in the US don't have the funds to teach more rigorous AP and IB-HL coursework, and elite colleges know this. So, when you are applying to colleges, as long as your guidance counselor can advocate for you and mention that you are "taking the most demanding curriculum" available to you, you will show that you are pushing yourself. Additionally, make sure that you are completing your coursework section correctly on the Common App -- meaning you are listing the courses for every semester/year and the correct number of courses (including gym class, music, arts electives, etc.).

That being said, not taking the academically demanding courses available is likely to reflect poorly for elite colleges, given that these colleges want you to challenge yourself. Colleges seek intellectually curious and precocious students, who seek to learn for its own sake and are willing to take on academic challenges as opposed to being academically complacent.

Ultimately, this decision depends on your personal ambitions. If you don’t aspire to apply to the most competitive universities, it is not necessary to take a full schedule of APs, IBs, and honors classes. On the flip side, potential applicants to top tier schools would be well advised to take the most rigorous course load they feel they can comfortably handle. I would suggest you look to @emmyolive's post for the suggestions on how to increase your course rigor if this is something that is feasible for you.

25 days ago[edited]

Hello @H1jab1Pr1ncess,

Typically, selective universities like to see that you've taken the most rigorous courses available to you. That being said, they usually understand that there are limits for what courses may be available to you. So, take the best courses you can at your school (Honors, Dual Enrollment, etc.), and try to seek out other venues for learning.

Often, if you take a course not offered at your school at a local college or elsewhere, it reflects well on you during the admissions process because you took initiative to bridge the gap in your opportunities. So, don't worry. Your school's lack of resources definitely won't work against you!

You can also Google online for advice about this, but it is usually similar to the one I cited above. For instance, if you look at this article from a well-known admissions source (https://blog.prepscholar.com/what-does-a-rigorous-high-school-courseload-look-like), and scroll to the "What If My High School Offers Few Rigorous Classes?" section, you will see what I mean.

Hope this helps!


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