We know that high school students are constantly faced with tough decisions.
When it comes to choosing your high school courses, try to strike a balance between challenging yourself and pursuing the courses that are interesting and meaningful to you. Prospective students often ask us for advice about which courses to take. Many want to know, “Is it better to get an “A” in a standard college-prep course, or to get a “B” in an AP course?”
Unfortunately, there is no easy or right answer to this.
But, we can offer some insider tips! When choosing your high school classes, focus on:
Course rigor. Admissions officers at highly selective universities are charged with assessing whether our applicants will be able to excel in a highly rigorous, liberal arts environment. Therefore, we are looking for applicants who are pursuing the most rigorous courses available to them, and doing well in those courses. Whether you attend a school that offers AP courses, the IB curriculum, neither of these, or something different all together, we strive to better understand you as a student, within the context of your school.
The core. Most of the applicants who are successful in the admissions process at JHU are students who have focused on core academic coursework throughout their four years of high school: math, science, English, social studies and foreign language. We appreciate applicants who demonstrate strengths in a variety of academic disciplines, as our students here at Hopkins are expected to take coursework emphasizing the breadth of our curriculum. However, if a student is passionate about a particular academic area, he or she should make the most of their opportunities in that discipline.
Your interests. Let’s say you have your sights set on studying engineering at Hopkins; then we would expect to see that you have maxed out the math and science offerings at your school. If you aspire to study political science, we would expect that if your school offers AP government, you took it. If you plan on dropping, or discontinuing, an academic course, then you should be replacing it with something equally academically rigorous.
Your Resources. Remember, your high school guidance counselor is an important resource when it comes time to select or change your courses.
It’s important to keep in mind that your high school courses are just one piece of the admissions application process. Here at Hopkins, we review applications holistically, focusing not just on grades and course selection, but also extra-curricular activities, essays (have you seen our “Essays That worked” page?), and letters of recommendation.
We try to assess your academic character as well as your impact in your community and whether your personal qualities and characteristics make you the right for us. And while you want to challenge yourself, and showcase your academic talents as best you can to the admissions committee, it’s important to remember to be true to yourself, give us a complete and honest impression of who you are as a student, and enjoy the experiences along the way!