Monday, February 7, 2011

Dual Enrollment and Challenging Coursework

Every once in a while, the topic of dual enrollment (taking college classes while in high school) comes up on this blog. Every year, well over 1,500 of our freshman applicants will have some form of dual enrollment work, and most likely 700-900 freshmen will enroll with dual enrollment work. It ranges from 3 hours to 60+ hours of college work, from a variety of colleges, and a variety of courses taken. We are happy to work with students who have taken dual enrollment courses, and we look at this information when reviewing the rigor of an applicant's schedule, as well as all of the dual enrollment details and grades during our file reading process.

The most important thing I always focus on is that the student (and parents) should sit down with their guidance counselor and chart out a path that will challenge the student to the best of their ability. Is that taking the IB program in their school, taking Honors and AP courses, a mix of AP and dual enrollment, or if there are no advanced courses at the high school, focus on dual enrollment, etc. If you want to prepare yourself for college, and especially a competitive college like UGA, then you want to come in prepared to to the work. I sat in on a program for 8th grade parents last month that helped prepare students to register for 9th grade classes, and this same thought was stated as well by the school officials. We know the challenges of Honors and Gifted courses early on, and of AP/IB courses in the later years, as well as dual enrollment. For some students, AP courses are readily available and allow them to remain in their school throughout the day, and are a great stepping stone to the challenge they will see in a college class. For others, their high school may have limited options in school, and a local college course is the best route. At UGA, I have seen several students who were beyond their HS's capacity in the math and foreign language areas, and UGA was a great option to fill this need. But I will say again, the choice of courses needs to reside in the student's hands, not in UGA's. The only serious issue that I have seen with dual enrollment, especially if not taught on the college campus, is that a number of selective private colleges may not accept these courses as transfer work, but you would need to communicate with the colleges to which you are applying (or check their transfer equiv. charts).

Now, when UGA calculates a high school GPA, we can use the applicant's dual enrollment grades if the grades show up on the high school transcript, which most do. When we calculate a GPA, we are trying to get the best understanding of the student's core grades as possible, but we also want to have as fair a process as possible in our review. When we add weight to a student's grades, it is only for AP or IB grades, as these course are nationally and internationally standardized through the College Board and IB programs guidance. While we certainly look at Honors/Gifted/Accelerated/Dual Enrollment courses in our review of a student's rigorous schedule, these courses are not standardized within a county or state, much less internationally. I have seen dual enrollment courses that range from Ivy League colleges to 2 year technical schools, and I have seen such a wide range of Honors courses to know that there is no nationally standardized basis for the coursework (again this year I saw an Honors PE course on a transcript).

There have been a number of studies about students and challenging courses in high school (especially on AP courses), and the consensus is that a student is better prepared and has stronger college grades if they have taken advanced courses in high school. And the focus is generally not on the exam score of the course, but on the actual participation in challenging courses that has an impact on future grades.

So challenge yourself now in high school, and you will be better prepared for the future.

Go Dawgs!

43 comments:

  1. "number of selective private colleges may not accept these courses as transfer work"

    Just to point out.. generally those same schools don't except AP either. Many such as Harvard, Princton, Stanford will accept only 2 or 3 AP or DE classes and the DE classes have to be verifired as onsite on the college campus. Then you have colleges like New College of FL that accepts all DE and refuses AP.

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  2. Boatfoot: Actually, I was talking about a much larger range of private institutions that include such colleges as Davidson, Centre, Furman, Rice, Duke, etc. that at times have had an issue with dual enrollment work that is not taken on a college campus, not taught by a traditional faculty member, etc., but will accept AP/IB credit. As for New College, I believe this is a public institution in FL, and that it has a much different type of credit system than most college.

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  3. Actually, we visited Davidson, Duke and Rice. They all do something different. Davidson allows 4 APs, will allow many DE but only on approval of the Department. Rice and Furman will allow any DE if above and beyond what was needed for HS graduation but generous on AP, Vanderbilt is stingy on everything..

    It varies from college to college, and it changes from year-to-year. I just think it is more correct in saying that "a number of selective private colleges may not accept these courses or AP for transfer or the number of credits available may be limited."

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  4. Boatfoot: Since I was focused on dual enrollment, I will stick with the above statement, since most students know that each college has their own method for accepting AP/IB credit, but many do not know the differences in types of dual enrollment work.

    For instance, from the Davidson website, it states that "we do not transfer as college credits courses offered at the high school or in summer programs (even Davidson's own "July Experience") offered principally to high school students", and from the Rice website, "Additionally, each course must have been taught by regular members of the college faculty and should be part of the normal curriculum of the college", and from the Duke website, "# were taken on the college campus; were taken in competition with degree candidates of that college; were taught by a regular member of the college faculty; were part of the regular curriculum of the college; were taken after commencement of your junior year of high school".

    The issue is that there are a number of methods for dual enrollment, from taking courses on a college campus, to a summer program, to some colleges having a high school teacher be a temporary college instructor in the high school classroom with only high school courses. This is much different from AP/IB courses, which are standardized, are just in the HS classroom, and have an exam at the end.

    Again, I have nothing against dual enrollment at all, and in fact I have worked with a number of students doing dual enrollment. But there are a variety of dual enrollment methods, and some are not acceptable at some colleges, while others are, especially with private institutions.

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  5. So, I am taking dual enrollment classes with a local college, but my classes are taught at the high school by a high school teacher that is certified. I chose this path over most of the AP courses that my school offers for seniors. So what I am trying to get to is...does UGA see this as a good thing? or would they have rather me take AP courses instead. Sorry, I am just trying to clear this up.

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  6. Anon: Here is a cut and paste from my post:

    "The most important thing I always focus on is that the student (and parents) should sit down with their guidance counselor and chart out a path that will challenge the student to the best of their ability." So since you and your counselor know what is offered and what you are taking, you know best about the challenge of your curriculum. As for the college courses that are taught at the HS by a HS teacher, my statement was that some private colleges may have an issue with this, not UGA. UGA sees dual enrollment as a student challenging themselves. But I do not know your situation, the options available, or what you are taking, so again, you and your counselor would know best about the challenge of your curriculum.

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  7. Thank you! You are awesome!

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  8. will we be notified to check our status for the possibility of acceptance in late feb., or should we just be on the lookout?

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  9. Anon: Our office always makes decisions available both on the myStatus page and in the mail.

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  10. I am a deffered student for fall semester and i sent my 2nd semester transcript on the 19th of January after a week off from all the chaos with the weather. I know the deadline was 21st, but on my status, it still hasn't updated my transcript date.

    Should i resend the transcript or wait it out?

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  11. Anon: If you sent in an actual transcript, then go ahead and have it re-sent. If it was just a mid-year report just showing senior grades, then we would not have marked it as a transcript, but we would have put it in your file (so everything should be fine).

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  12. I don't have a question I would just like to state, the level of difficulty between regular classes and Honors/AP clasess is like day and night with the exception of science courses, but even those are pretty easy.

    I almost like AP and Honors classes better because quite frankly, most regular courses are a joke, and the students in these courses seem to be more.....we'll just say unfocused.

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  13. This may help clarify as there exists different terminology around the country:

    Dual Enrollment : Enrolled in college courses taught by college professors (Many colleges will differentiate between sitting in a desk at college and online classes). There is a difference between a tech college, a 2yr college, and 4 year colleges in how some view rigor. These classes are generally used to simultaneously fulfill college requirements and are reimbursed by state programs (ie. Georgia, Florida, Texas)

    Joint Enrollment - Is identical to Dual except that it is for college classes over and above HS requirements and the student may have to pay for these themselves. (many times people still use 'joint' to mean 'dual')

    Concurrent Enrollment - Taking a 'college' class at a high school taught by a high school teacher. (It's up to individual college preferences to determine rigor).

    All of students may take AP Exams without taking a HS AP class. It is up to the individual institution to determine whether the score or the class is more important for rigor. It would be imagined that a dual enrolled student taking Chemistry at UGA and scoring a 5 on the AP exam would be considered more rigorous than a HS student taking AP Chemistry and scoring a 2 or 3 on the test. But then it is all quite confusing.

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  14. Anon: Thanks for the input.

    Boatfoot: Thank you for sharing this information, although as you have stated, a number of states do not use the term "Concurrent Enrollment", and thus lump this into the dual enrollment status. You are correct that a number of people lump in joint enrollment into dual enrollment, most likely due to the fact that a number of students will take both dual and joint enrollment courses (and sometimes take all three during their high school career), and it is a challenge to state it as such. In fact, if you look at the USG website, you will have dual and joint enrollment defined, but not concurrent enrollment, and on a majority of college transcripts, there is no difference in the listing of classes.

    As for students taking the AP exam without taking the class, yes, this is possible (my older brother did this with AP Physics back in the early '70's), but a majority of the students taking AP (or IB) exams will have taken the course (or a similar course that just is not listed as AP). That is why we define rigor of a curriculum broadly, looking at what the student has taken overall, from CP to Honors, Gifted to IB, AP to DE. We are not looking at the test score for rigor, but at what the student has taken in the classroom.

    As I stated in the post, there have been a number of studies, from TX to CA, about high school student rigor and success in college, and UGA puts emphasis on the rigor of a student's curriculum.

    Again, thank you for your comments.

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  15. I am a high school junior in Gwinnett and I am currently making the decision if I should take dual enrollment next year. My school offers several AP classes, so this is not an issue.

    However, I am in the situation where I can only take dual enrollment classes or AP. I am planning on taking the classes at Georgia Gwinnett College. Does UGA have a prefrence? Are dual enrollment classes and AP seen as the same rigor? Which route does UGA perfer? I am not going beyond my schools curriculm, but just taking another path. I like the fact that with dual enrollment it is easier to transfer credits. In my AP classes, only one AP test determines if I get credit or not. However, some private schools will not accept the credit. Although, I have more options with college classes. There is no AP Anthropolgy class.

    I can basically take AP Lang and AP Micro/Govern OR Economics/Govern and English Comp 1 at GGC. Is it considered the same rigor when looking at a high schools transcript?

    Also, I know UGA does not caculate fine arts into GPA. However, if one takes drama all four years of high school does UGA still look at this? I may not have taken AP classes instead, but I did have a commitment to a fine arts.

    I also am in the position where I can take Honors French 3 or AP Pysch. Would UGA rather a student take a third year of French or an AP which they are very interested in?

    Thanks, and I'm sorry for all the questions!

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  16. Anon: I have always said that I will not tell a student what classes to take, so I will not start here. What I will do it ask you a few questions that you will need to answer with your parents and your HS counselor. First, ask yourself what is your goal in taking challenging courses? Do you just want to get credit for college work, or do you want to want to prepare yourself for the coursework at UGA (I am not suggesting that one answer cannot meet both goals!). Second, what are your academic passions, and how can you best excel in these areas? As you can see from my post, UGA does not state that AP is better than dual enrollment, or the reverse. You need to look at your options and make a choice. If you have a passion for Anthropology and your high school does not offer it, then look at other opportunities.

    As for Honors French vs. AP Psych, again, what are you passionate about, and what are your goals? And as for taking fine arts classes, we look at all the classes you take (but only use the core courses for GPA), and we look at what you are active in during certain parts of our file review. Did you have a role in the Spring musical, or were you a part of Chorus? How did you spend your time both in and out of the classroom?

    But overall, you, your parents and your counselor must determine the best path to both challenge yourself and have you move forward in your pursuit of your goals.

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  17. Hi DGraves, my daughter was accepted in the EA round and auto admitted into the honor's program, but she did not apply for Ramsey or the Fellow foundation scholarships. We are worried that she may not get any type of scholarship at all now. I know that you give them out through March, but can you give an estimate of how many scholarships are left and when the next round will be sent out?

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  18. kimdawg: I do not have a range on the number of scholarships that have been offered and/or the number we still expect to give out, sorry. As well, I do not have a specific date of the next round, but there will be several rounds of scholarship offerings between now and April.

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  19. I asked a question earlier about my transcript not showing up on my status.

    It was just first semester grades of my senior year but it was on an official transcript. Should everything still be fine?

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  20. Anon: To UGA, a transcript is a document with all of your completed coursework and grades on it. If the "official transcript" you had sent only had first semester sr. grades on it (and not 9-11 year grades), then we generally would not have classified it as a transcript, but we would put it into your file to show sr grades. If this is the case, then I would assume it is in your file, and if not, then send another one ASAP.

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  21. My son was EA deferred and is now awaiting Regular Decision along with thousands of other students. Here is my question: He had a slightly above average SAT score and we could not afford for him to retake it in Jan. Is there any hope at all for him to be admitted regular decision based just on his teacher recs., essays, and updated straight A transcript?
    Thank you for all the wonderful and patient answers/info you provide us here with your blog!
    Hopeful Ga. Mom

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  22. Hopeful Mom: A large number of deferred EA and/or RD applicants were not able to or did not take the Jan. SAT, which is just fine. During the next stage of review, our office will be looking at the entire file of the applicant, from grades to grade trends, rigor, recommendations, activities, essays, etc., and we will then look at the file within the context of the other applicants and how many students we will be able to admit. I cannot give any estimate on a decision, but the SAT/ACT is not the most important factor by a long shot.

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  23. when will transfer students receive decision letter if we have already submitted everything for a couple weeks now?

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  24. Anon: As quoted from my most recent transfer post:

    "I expect that by the end of January, our office will begin to review the transfer applications. We will begin with Summer transfers, as they are the first to enroll and need to have their decisions before the Fall applicants. As well, though, these go a little quicker as there are not as many Summer transfer applicants as compared to Fall (last year it was about 300 vs. 1,500), so these should go quickly. When that process is done, we should go straight into Fall transfers starting in mid-February, and go forward from there."

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  25. Hi! I am currently fully dual-enrolled at Perimeter College, and I have amassed 44 hours of credit since my junior year of high school, while making all A's and just one B. I enrolled in Perimeter's dual-enrollment program to take advantage of Perimeter's TAG (Transfer Admission Guarantee) agreement: I could take care of as many college credits as possible while satisfying my high school credits, AND I could escape the immense stress of my having to apply to numerous universities and cross my fingers. Though I am still pleased with my academic experience at GPC, I couldn't be less pleased with the lack of guarantee the Transfer Admissions GUARANTEE gave me. I'd have to look through a bunch of emails and bother my busy mother to get the exact details, but I'd like to bring your attention an extremely unfair loophole in the TAG agreement GPC has with UGA: Though I was taking all college classes (the same as any other student at Perimeter aiming to use TAG to get into their dream school) as a high school junior and senior, the UGA TAG agreement does NOT apply to me (and a good friend also hoping to go to your school) for no other reason than that I am a high school student, merely trying to do everything I can to get ahead. Unfortunately, we were not informed of this unfounded loophole until late in the ‘college app crunch time’ season, so we were left rushing to apply to early admissions (even though I’d taken only one SAT, since I was supposedly guaranteed to get into my favorite school) and thinking all of the hard work we’d done was for nothing. Long, frustrating, and drawn-out story short: There is no reason for such a loophole to exist; UGA and GPC need communicate more effectively because we were misinformed and misdirected, despite our best efforts to get solid answers. Since I was deferred from early action, I’ve raised my SAT scores quite a bit and scored well on the ACT. I want nothing more than to double major in Psychology and English at your school, and I can only hope I’ve done enough to get in.
    Thanks for reading this, and I hope something will be done to correct the gaping flaw in the TAG agreement.
    - Jacqueline

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  26. Jacqueline G.: Thank you for sharing your situation, and I hope that the freshman application process works out for you. I am sorry that you feel like you were not given proper information. From the UGA side of things, we are clear that a student who is taking dual enrollment work(dual as in getting high school credit with the college work), is still a freshman applicant, and a transfer student is someone who has taken college work after high school graduation. GA Tech, as well as a number of other colleges, have the same criteria. As stated in the above post, we have a large group of freshman who have dual enrollment work, and if we treated dual enrollment students as transfer students, we would not be able to admit transfers in the same way we do now due to lack of control of enrollment projections and numbers.

    I am glad that you were able to apply Early Action in October, and as I have stated above, we recognize the strengths of a strong curriculum, which in your case includes a wealth of dual enrollment courses. In addition to the above situation, UGA generally is able to work with freshman applicants earlier, they are able to be considered for merit scholarships (we do not have that option with transfers for the most part), and other issues, such as on campus housing, are guaranteed for freshman.

    As seen from the above information, there are reasons for this policy, and we are able to plan ahead for the entering freshman and transfer classes due to our policies. Hopefully, other prospective students will read this and make sure that they check with the colleges they are considering concerning admission policies and dual enrollment.

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  27. Jacqueline: One additional item to remember is that, due to your improvement on the SAT and the addition of the ACT may move you up into the EA admission range for our Feb. decisions (mentioned in a previous post), so this may make life better for you. Please be patient as we work towards releasing these decisions as soon as possible.

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  28. I was eventually told to apply as a freshman, so I do understand that policy and have no grievances with it. My issues lie with the TAG agreement in that I, along with fully dual-enrolled students at GPC, am not eligible for any guarantee in transferring just because I haven't graduated high school and held my diploma for a year. It doesn't seem fair to give a guarantee to Student A, a normal college-aged student fulfilling the TAG requirements at GPC, and give no such thing to Student B, who differs from Student A ONLY in age.

    Thank you for responding to my comments so promptly, and for wishing me admission success. It would certainly take a load of stress off my shoulders if I am accepted in the EA February range.

    -Jacqueline

    I was eventually told to apply as a freshman, so I do understand that policy and have no grievances with it. My issues lie with the TAG agreement in that I, along with other fully dual-enrolled students at GPC, am not eligible for any guarantee in transferring just because I haven't graduated high school and held my diploma for a year. It doesn't seem fair to give a guarantee to Student A, a normal college-aged student fulfilling the TAG requirements at GPC, and give no such thing to Student B, who differs from Student A ONLY in age.

    Thank you for responding to my comments so promptly, and for wishing me admission success. It would certainly take a load of stress off my shoulders if I were accepted in the EA February range.

    -Jacqueline

    PS: On an ironic note... The friend I previously mentioned and I recently became the 'poster children' for GPC dual-enrollment in a video. Though I value the higher education I am receiving at GPC, especially my honors psychology courses, I wish I had been fully informed.

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  29. Jacqueline: Some might debate as to the differences between Student A and Student B (a high school diploma for one), but we can set that aside. Again, there would most likely not be a TAG agreement if dual enrollment students were included, but I believe that GPC has been informed about this issue, and hopefully they are now clear about the policy. As you can see from my posts, I only speak for UGA Admissions (any time a question is for Honors, Fin. Aid, etc., I defer to those departments), so I hope that GPC takes similar actions.

    Congratulations again on a strong schedule, and I hope to see you next year at UGA.

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  30. Where do I need to sent my transcript? What is the address, email, etc?

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  31. Anon: The address for Admissions can be found at the bottom of every page of our website, and it is:

    University of Georgia
    Undergraduate Admissions
    Terrell Hall
    Athens, Georgia 30602-1633

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  32. Is it possible that if ya'll have reviewed a file and are going to accept that student in March you will go ahead and accept the student in Feb? Even though there was no change in SAT/ACT!It would basically be luck of the draw? Thanks for all you do!

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  33. UGA 92: The February decisions are only for students who meet the EA admission standards (an overall review of grades, rigor and test scores) used in the Dec. decisions. When we are reviewing files in the holistic read process, we are not reading a file and saying admit or deny, we are evaluating the applicant as a whole, and at the end of the process, we review the entire group of files we have read to determine the March decisions. And there is no "luck of the draw" in our decisions, Dec., Feb. or March.

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  34. How far in advance will ya'll post the dates for the February and March admissions? Thank you so much for all you do!!!

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  35. Anon: When I know for sure when the release dates will be, I then let people know. I do not guess, as people would then be upset if things changed.

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  36. Hi DGraves,
    I am a junior in high school currently taking AP Lang. As I am signing up for my senior year classes, I must choose whether to take College English -a dual enrollment class through Georgia Perimeter- or AP Lit. I would like to know if College English through GPC counts as credit if I go to UGA?
    Thanks!

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  37. Hi DGraves,
    I am a junior in high school and I'm planning on participating in the "Move on When Ready" program next year. I will be attending South Georgia College full time. My counselor has informed me that Pre-calculus is the equivalent to Math 4. Therefore, I will take Pre-calc my first semester and Calculus 1 my 2nd semester. However if I do that I will be unable to take the AP calculus at my highschool. This worries me because that means upon graduation I would have only completed 1 of the 2 AP classes offered at my school( I took AP CHEM). My question is does UGA think its better to be a full-time college student my senior year or stay at high school and complete the other AP class offered to me?

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  38. CSL94: If we receive a GPC college transcript with the course, hours and a grade on it, then it will transfer. But my suggestion is to speak with the AP Lit teacher and ask them which course, the AP Lit or the DE English class, will better prepare you for the English courses at a college like UGA. Then go from there.

    Anon: As I said in the post, UGA is looking at what is offered and what is taken in the high school AND community. So when we are looking at your overall coursework both in high school at in dual enrollment. We are not going to focus on you only taking 1 out of 2 AP's, but your overall courses.

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  39. And anon, if your school only has limited advanced courses, then dual enrollment may be the best option for a challenging courseload during your senior year.

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  40. Hey DGraves,
    I have a question for you, and i'm going to explain my situation to you first. First off, I'm a High School junior at Whitewater High in Fayetteville, GA. Being a student at UGA has been a lifelong dream for me, and I've recently become aware of the difficulty of being accepted on a recent college tour. My biggest concerns being the AP courses. Although I have been in Honors English, Math, and Science my previous three years, I have yet to take any AP courses. I set my hopes on the acceptance into AP courses my senior year, yet I sadly was denied. I feel like I'm completely out of luck and that there is no hope for me to get into UGA. On the other hand, my extracurricular activities are outstanding. I am the class of 2012 president, (Senior year) editor of the school newspaper, member of application only ambassadors (focuses on community service and bettering those who are less fortunate) BETA club member, varsity letter in colorguard, and the list only continues. In all honesty, do you feel like there is a chance that my GPA, honors courses, extracurricular activities, and SAT scores could in a sense make up for my lack of "AP rigor," or do you feel like my chances of making it into UGA are very slim because of my lack of challenge? Thank you so much for your time! Please help me and relieve some stress; i'm going nuts!

    Sincerely,
    Abby

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  41. Abby: While the rigor of a student's curriculum is important (and I am glad to see you have challenged yourself with Honors courses), we do not have any sort of cut-point where a student has to have taken AP courses/dual enrollment classes. What we are looking at, especially in the file reading process, is what the student is like as a whole, taking into account all of the factors I have talked about before (grades, activities, leadership, writing, test scores, rigor, etc.). While you may be weaker than some applicants in one area, that does not mean we will just toss your application aside.

    What it does mean is that you want to make sure you are still challenging yourself, doing very well in your core courses, and keep up the strong level of activities/leadership you have written about.

    This does not mean that you will/will not be admitted, just that this will put you in the best position to be competitive in next year's admission review.

    In addition, make sure you have a number of college options, and keep positive. I hope this helped!

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  42. Thank you so much DGraves! Your response has given me back my confidence. I'll be sure to keep up my grades, leadership, and other activities so that hopefully soon i'll be at the University! Thank you!

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  43. Ok so I'm a little bit confused. My cousin took dual classes when he was a senior in hs and they were accepted at UGA where he now attends but he also went to hs in Georgia. I'm currently a sophomore in hs and I live in Texas, I'm preparing to sign up for dual classes to take my Junior year and I was wondering if UGA would accept the college credit. I read your whole post and the way it was worded to me made it sound as though it wouldnt be counted as a college credit but merely be used to figure into the GPA. The college I would be taking the classes through is Wharton County Jr. College (WCJC) and I am concerned that it will not be considered as a college class and I won't receive the credit if I choose to attend UGA (which is at the top of my list for colleges, go dawgs!)

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