All of us have questions about everything. Some of us wonder why Fox has decided to have X Factor and American Idol in back to back seasons. Others might question if summer shows like Pretty Little Liars and Teen Wolf will last another season. Some want to know where is the best place to watch some July 4th fireworks. Still others question (more seriously) why nature seems to have suddenly turned against us– what with fires in Texas and floods in North Dakota. Life is never easy, and questioning is part of the process of living.
Students and their parents, however, question most the college admissions process. Answers can vary based on colleges and who you talk to, but it is always nice to get a consolidated list of answers from the source itself. The University of Michigan Alumni Association has compiled a useful list of Q&A on topics ranging from standardized tests to extracurricular activities. Questions such as “What GPA do I need to be admitted?” and “What if I get a case of ‘senioritis’ once I get accepted?” are answered here. Of course, some answers are U-M specific, but most apply to all colleges. Some answers are just common sense.
Here is one question which I believe is answered brilliantly:
“How are honors and AP courses accounted for in the admissions process?
Honors, AP, and/or IB courses are offered at most high schools throughout the country, and U-M expects that students will enroll in these more challenging courses in subjects they feel they can be successful in. When reviewing an application, the curriculum is looked at in the context of the offerings at the high school. In order to be competitive for admission, students are expected to enroll—and subsequently be very successful—in these courses.”
The key point is that universities will expect you to enroll in the most challenging courses available and expect that you can do well in them. Thus you do not need to take tons of AP courses but you should take ones that you can get a decent grade in. Otherwise, you have not taken advantage of a challenging curriculum. Too many non-honors and non-AP courses can make even a 4.0 GPA seem not as impressive. A B grade in an AP is considered better than an A in a regular course.
These tips are goldmines. Another good tip they give is that essays communicate more than just life experiences. Personal essays help your writing skills come across, which can also be an indicator of academic potential. Make sure to pay as much attention to grammar and style as you do to content itself. Peruse this list of FAQs and make sure to fully understand each answer.