A large number of college courses are available for high school students to take both online and in-person. Some students take them just to challenge themselves further or learn about one topic that isn’t offered at their high school.
College courses alone won’t get you into college. Taking 20 college courses won’t reverse your mediocre GPA or average ACT scores. That’s just not how it works. It can, however, add depth to a specific part of your application.
Think of it this way: taking a college course is a great way for you to show a specific interest in a topic. It’s a wonderful strategy to display that you have the motivation and self-discipline to operate at a more challenging level, academically. It also shows that you are a go-getter and were able to take the initiative necessary to pursue an interest further than you could in the environment immediately in front of you (read: high school). These are all things colleges, especially top colleges, favor.
Looking at the college application and review process, the fact that you have taken one or a few college courses won’t even be considered until round 2. Again, it won’t make up for a mediocre GPA or average test scores. Those are the basics—the ice cream at the bottom of an ice cream sundae—and college courses are extra, optional toppings.
Additionally, be mindful about the courses that you take. They should amplify a genuine interest. Read: they can’t be random. As we’ve said before, you have to make sure that your entire application as a whole makes sense and comes together in a logical way. If you took a rogue college course on a topic that you have no history or background in then it’s going to stand out, and not in a good way. A college course is taking an interest to the next level. It’s a great way to do so.
The same goes for taking extra classes or credits at your high school. There’s no real need to do so if you are already struggling to maintain As in your regular classes. It won’t look good that you took on more than you could handle and ended up under-performing. That just shows that you don’t have a great understanding of your ability to perform, manage time, and/or manage expectations. Before you delve into an extra credit assignment, wouldn’t you make sure that all of your regular homework was all turned in already?
We also encourage our students to make sure that they are taking college courses for the right reasons. Don’t take it for the sake of getting college credit because many schools won’t honor or accept any credits that you’ve earned from other institutions. More likely than not, you won’t be able to get out of your math requirement at Yale because you took an Intro to Statistics class at a local college.
Let us know if you need help or advice--we’re here to make sure that you’re equipped with all of the information that you need to make the best possible decision. Call or email us anytime. Really.