Picking a rigorous course load


Admission officers routinely advise students to take a rigorous set of courses, but they usually won’t tell you what they mean.

To start, colleges want to see a full class load, which generally means at least five academic courses. Again, academic courses are English, math, science, social studies, and foreign language, so generally admissions officers are looking for at least one of each. There are definitely students with tough loads with only four traditionally academic courses, but in general five is the preferred number and it’s not unusual to see students who take six or, or rarely even seven.

Tomorrow – back to the question of when to select honors, AP, or IB courses.

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4 Responses

  1. Nice blog. I was impressed that Zinch.com used an interview from you as a basis of an article about college admissions (a message from Mason in “The Love” led me to the blog).

    Anyways, I was wondering if there was a limit to the amount of credit awarded for AP exams? Or, is it like transfer credit where it’s okay as long as 25% of courses are done at Mason, etcetc?

  2. Thanks for the Zinch plug – I haven’t read the article yet = what do you think of their service? I’m thinking of featuring them in a soon to come blog entry.

    As for AP’s, most have no limit. A few schools limit howmuch credit you can bring in, and a few won’t use them at all no matter what, so its worth checking. Mason will give you as much as you earn – becuase we are SO much nicer than those OTHER schools!

  3. I think it’s a good idea and it’s picking up momentum as more and more colleges get on board with it, a lot more interaction with the students. Plus, it’s going to grow in high schools because people want to become President (not that it’s a bad thing) and are going to recruit more and more people. The only problem for me is that I wish I could reply back to colleges instead of hoping they’ll give me more info, but I can understand the reasoning against the floods of e-mails. But it’s definitely helping put students out there, and the potential scholarships are a nice bonus.

    Thanks for answering my question 🙂 By the way, it’s a small thing to point out, but when I get messages from Mason on Zinch, it’s George Mason Univesrity (not a great impression).

    If it’s not too much trouble, I’m curious about how you say Mason has all these things happening on campus (DSP), yet, why do people say that there’s nothing to do on the weekends? Ie., Princeton Review, or even a Facebook group created by students, laments the lack of activities.

  4. Thanks for the typo catch! most helpful – I’ll be on the phone lines to Zinch in mere moments…

    As for Princeton Review, a couple of points, but to start:
    Of course I’m going to say how wrong they are. They are selling a product by finding funny/interesting stuff to say about schools, and they don’t make any claim to base their work anything like statistical validity. They do, however, bring up a good point that all the D.C. area schools share.
    One of my colleagues once descrived coming to school in this area as the “ADD of college-going experiences.” There is SO much to do, jobs, museums, fairs, concerts, parties, etc etc etc, that it can be overwhelming. Your freshman year at area schools looks pretty similar to anywhere else you’d go – dorm life, maybe a frat (or not) and the rest. By sophomore or junior year, however, students are all over the place.
    I always advise students that there are TONS of schools, and there are good reasons for that. If you want t a school where everyone goes to the same events every weekend, you’ll probably want a school in a collegetown in a more rural area. That’s a very different experience from going to school in the nation’s capital at a school of this size. Just take a look at the post I put up about the Patriot Center and Center for the Arts – and that didn’t include the 200 plus student groups’ activities, the Greek Life, the dormitory events, etc. Clearly there’s a ton to do here, but I do agree that it is far different from going to a more traditional less diverse institution.
    Also, I’ve heard the Princeton Review staff drink alot, and, I believe, make things up just for kicks (no, not really – but if they’re going to insult Mason, what’s a Dean to do?).

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