Greetings Middle & High School Families!

It’s Time for Course Planning 2021-22

AP, IB, AICE, Academies, 

Dual-Enrollment??!!   At this time of year, students and parents are focused on course selection and there is quite a bit of uncertainty  about the value of “Academies”, AP classes, AICE vs. IB diplomas and whether “Dual-Enrollment” classes are appropriate.  

Whether your dream college is a highly selective university, the Ivy League, a liberal arts college, your state’s flagship – or any one of several outstanding academic institutions throughout the country (“FIT”??l) – – please consider the following as you prepare to select your coursework for next year — helping you success during the college admissions process and as an undergraduate student:

  • One of the most important aspects of your high school academic experience is taking coursework that  prepares you to succeed in subsequent and increasingly complex courses. This is your EDUCATION!! Please follow your heart- not the crowd. As you’ll read about below, the importance of having a foundation in STEM coursework cannot be overstated (even if you aren’t a STEM student!).
  • In addition, your courses should allow you to explore and discover beyond your comfort zone. Why should any 14 to 17 year old young adult be 100% certain of a path – take interesting electives!!  Don’t waste your available spaces on courses that teach little and electives that will likely be removed from your calculated GPA by college admissions officer (yes, that’s right- those none core courses are removed in most situations!!)
  • Finally- your coursework should always be challenging but not more than you can comfortably manage.  I lost track of the number of parents and families that thanked me for talking them out of enrolling in seven AP classes!  (Read my Google Reviews)


Beyond the high school graduation requirements in your state (20 to 24 credits), the classes you select serve some important roles:

  • Courses, and in particular-your electives- can help each student explore, develop and deepen an academic interest.
  • Core/required and elective courses allow students to better prepare for subsequent academic success.  Sequencing is important as are appropriate challenges. For example, a foundation in math is essential for STEM fields and Business curriculum.  AP art can develop core skills and expand a portfolio.  Completing courses in high school is essential for proper academic placement as undergraduates — but even more important– the ability to hold your own when arriving on a college campus rests squarely on the quality of courses taken in high school.
  • As discussed in depth below, the transcript reveals a student’s ability to succeed as a undergraduate and has a direct impact on the likelihood of college admission.  Avoid following the crowd!

College Applications– WEIGHTED vs UNWEIGHTED GPA??

In my practice, I meet families who seem unreasonably misguided about how course choices impact class rank and yes, I also hear unrealistic notions about  the value of the weighted GPA.   It’s short and simple- you need to earn the highest GPA possible.  Students with higher unweighted GPAs, also have higher weighted GPAs.  Parents — if your student has a 3.2 unweighted GPA and you are thinking that their weighted GPA will some how compensate/balance- it doesn’t work like this. Other students with higher unweighted GPAs also have higher weighted GPAs.
Colleges will be looking at your transcript – all of it- courses taken and both the weighted and unweighted GPAs. 

 Accordingly – don’t fret– there is a college fit for every student- C, B or A!

Families should aim to select a high school and a curriculum that encourages learning and discovery within a community that provides the support for your student’s continued emotional development.Let’s get some facts straight:

  • The single most important factor for academic success as an undergraduate and in the college admissions process, is taking the most challenging and relevant curriculum a student can comfortably manage.What do Admissions Officers Consider?
    College Admissions & Financial Aid Tips: What Do Admissions Reps Consider?
  • Foundation courses in high school are important to subsequent undergraduate studies. Understanding the potential impact of taking AP Lang or getting off the “calc-path” to your undergraduate experience is essential.  For example, if you have an aspiring physician–there is a required set of undergraduate courses for success as a medical student/admissions and high school can prepare you for success in those courses.  This will include Biology, 2-3 Chemistry courses, Physics and Calculus.   Considering an MBA? — you need to know statistics and have a year of Calculus behind you.
  • Your transcript matters most!  The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) annual State of College Admissions report confirms (yet again) that universities continue to indicate that the high school transcript (your curriculum and GPA) is the single most important factor in the college admissions process.  If you feel interested in reading the entire report:CLICK to VIEW the 2019 Report

While a student’s GPA and transcript are a significant determinant of admissions and academic success, there are as many as five to seven qualified applicants for every available space in the freshman class.  As a former admissions committee member and a current  Cornell alumni interviewer, I can assure you that admission committees seek to create a freshman class that is diverse in intended majors, geographic origin and personal interests.   Let’s keep some perspective– students in the 3.2 to 3.6  GPA range have many more college acceptances than students with 4.0 GPAs. Both the B and A student will receive a fine undergraduate education, be accepted to graduate school and find a meaningful career path.    What’s different is that nearly every qualified applicant to the most selective colleges has a very high GPA and has taken the most challenging courses. That’s insufficient to earn a spot.  I meet many students as late as the senior year with a 4.0 but many who didn’t take all the other necessary steps to prepare for college academic success, personal joy and college admissions.       Students who are successful not only in admissions, but as actual undergraduate students, are those who have well defined interests, nurtured as early as middle school and further developed throughout high school.  

Having an academic niche or a personal passion outside the classroom builds motivation, focus and academic success.       What inspires your student?    CLICK TO Schedule your Educational and College Admissions Assessment today – Build Your Strategic Academic Plan!

Please read our next blog on the diffferences between AP vs IB vs AICE  —

in the meantime — please click

Is Your High School Student on Target- Curious, Independent?

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Discover and Explore with College Advisor Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. Guiding her clients to define and realize educational and career goals. With over thirty years experience as a university professor and admissions committee member, you’re invited to leverage her extensive knowledge of university curricula and career opportunities.   Have a wonderful day!


Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. Educational and College Admissions Consultant
Professor Emeritus  – Cornell University Alumni Rep

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