Thursday, February 4, 2010
File Reading Part III
In two files I am looking at right now, one school offers 31 Honors courses and 28 AP courses (including at least four language options), while the second has 18 honors courses and 1 AP (with only two languages offered). These are just two examples, and there is an even wider range of options within the 2,524 high schools from which we have applicants this year. In addition, we are not just counting AP classes, but looking at the depth and breadth of a student's rigor in their core academic areas. I would rather see a student challenge themselves across the board with rigorous classes than to take 4 AP courses in one field, but basic courses in the rest. And don't fall for the idea that you should take the lightest load so you can make all A's, because this is not a good move if applying to UGA, and it is not a good way to prepare for college. Challenge yourself to the level that you can handle, and understand that this is a serious factor in admissions at UGA.
In our file reading, we are not just looking at high school courses, though, but at a student's overall academic challenge. We have applicants who attend college classes in the summer, take independent study classes in addition to their high school offerings, attend Governor's Honors programs (or similar options) for 4-6 weeks in specialized academic fields, and do independent research in areas in which they are passionate. I still remember the applicant who drove one hour across Los Angeles to take entomology classes (his intended major at UGA), traveled to South America to study insects in the rain forest, and worked with college faculty on research projects. Now, don't run out and start collecting bugs right this minute, but instead understand the broad spectrum of what makes up academic opportunities. In addition, don't suddenly post replies asking if X,Y or Z activity counts. Just understand that we look at the whole of a student's academic options, and how they have taken advantage of these opportunities.
So challenge yourself, find your passion, and understand how we look at an applicant's academic challenge. I guess this wasn't so brief, was it!