Hi! How important are AP courses?Answered
Okay so my high school doesn't offer AP courses, and I have no other means to take them. Will this affect my chances of getting accepted at a university? If yes, what can I do to compensate? I can't take courses at a community college either.
Also, what other things play an important part in the college application process? How important are volunteering and other related activities?
I agree with this answer above! To provide clarity and restate some of the important (and well written, I might add) facts from above, I will write a summary response.
Your school having no AP courses is not a complete disadvantage. It is more important to show that from the courses that are offered to you, you are taking the most rigorous available. Try to aim to have the "most demanding" curriculum you can choose, if that is possible for you. If not, aim to have the higher level classes be in your area/major of interest. These courses will appear on your transcript, and universities will know what courses are offered by your school. Another general rule of thumb is that community college and dual-enrollment classes are typically seen as another honors/IB-SL level course. While, classes at a University will be seen as AP/IB-HL level course to admissions officers. You can also "compensate" for lack of AP/advanced curriculum in subjects that interest you by self-studying for AP exams or pursuing courses online or taking on activities that show mastery/application of the subject. (I highly suggest the latter!!). Another note I will add is that AP exams themselves don't have much weight in the admissions process, rather the national awards (such as AP scholar, etc.) are what matter to admissions committees. If you can obtain these, then taking AP exams are more worthwhile.
In regards to your third question (second paragraph), when looking at selective schools (Top 40), higher than average GPA and standardized test scores will help ensure your application is submitted to the holistic review process. In the holistic review process, these two factors still matter, but now items like your essays, activities, and letters of recommendations will help you stand out much more. These "holistic" factors are what make you unique when compared to other applicants. Volunteering is an activity that shows a commitment to community which any college will love to see. Having activities specific to your interests will be another huge benefit at selective schools to show that you have demonstrated interest in the field you want to pursue.
I would suggest watching the livestream entitled "Ultimate Guide to Elite Admissions" to get a better sense of the expectations of admissions officers not just at selective but all schools. I think this would really help you! Here is the link: https://www.collegevine.com/livestreams/434/the-ultimate-guide-to-elite-college-admissions?utm_cv_source=watch-share
When you apply to colleges your guidance counselor will have to send a school report which will tell the colleges that you are applying to that your school doesn't offer AP courses. Because of that you don't really need to worry about "compensating". However you could look into self studying for an AP exam or look to see if your state has a virtual school that you can enroll in on top of your regular school in order to take AP courses. You could also look into taking a SAT Subject Test but some colleges don't look at those so make sure the ones you're applying to do before you take one. The other big things that colleges look at are recommendation letters, essays, and your extra curriculars. Try to form good relationships with a few of your teachers to help with recommendation letters. For ECs you want a few good ones rather than a bunch that you don't really care about. Try to work for leadership positions. Volunteer hour can also be very helpful and count as ECs, I've also noticed that a lot of scholarship programs look at your volunteer hours so they are definitely good for that.