How many AP classes did you sign up for this year? Five? Two? None at all? Many students think that the more AP classes you take, the better chance you have of getting into a great college. This is understandable thanks to the college admissions representatives for colleges that come to our school and rave about AP classes. Also, with parents(especially moms) that are more concerned for their children’s education than ever before, students are encouraged to take tons of AP’s. Students see AP classes as a way to boost their GPA even higher, thus enhancing the infamous college application.
It is easy to sympathize with the people who say there are so many factors in a college application it’s impossible to do it all. Leesville has students taking 6 AP classes in one year, all with the same goal of a high GPA. But when there are so many different things that colleges look at, some people instead focus on their standardized test scores, thinking that these are more influential.
Actually, the real question is why is there such a focus on GPA’s and not standardized tests?
According to recent studies, only 49–essentially a third of the schools in the “Princeton Review Top Schools”–published their incoming freshmen average GPA. Why? Because those schools don’t care. Every school is different and one class at a school may be much easier than the same class at another school. This could be caused by easier curriculum, easier teachers, or just lower standards for that institution. The problem is, these things can cause inflation which decreases the value of the GPA. So what is a better indicator of a student’s scholastic knowledge?
The answer is something that allows little choice and little room for inflation–the standardized test. There are two types of tests being accepted by most colleges according to recent statistics–those being the SAT and the ACT. They are both standardized and very detailed, allowing no ones knowledge to be overly inflated. Most people agree that everyone has a fair chance of succeeding, thanks to the fact that it is a “standard” test.
Of course, there are some people who perhaps don’t test as well as their peers, and others who test better than what they really know. Other than that, there are no outstanding flaws in this process for comparing students. But here’s another one to think about: more than 800 colleges and universities don’t care if you submit your SAT or ACT scores either.
The real answer depends on your geographic location, your areas’ standards and your desire to go to the school you want to attend. For example, North Carolina is known for its exceptional universities such as North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State, and Duke. These universities along with others in North Carolina such as East Carolina, North Carolina at Wilmington, and Appalachian State don’t consider a single academic factor but instead view GPA’s along with SAT’s or ACT’s for those who took the ACT instead. On top of that NC schools look at extra-curricular activities and leadership opportunity to balance out the academic parts. But when traveling to other parts of the country to view colleges, you may very well find that they only care about GPA and don’t want an SAT submitted. This emphasizes the cruciality of knowing what your favorite colleges want out of you so that you can work hard on whatever they want submitted to them senior year. It would be a grave mistake for a student to work hard on the SAT for four years only to find that the college wants GPA records only.
The key is to know what your college wants from you come senior year. We live in a day and age where technology and frequent visits from college counselors and admissions staff keep us updated on what we need to be doing to reach the final goal. As mentioned above, the desire to go to your favorite school after four years of high school should motivate you to get all the information possible about what you need to do to get there.
In North Carolina, most schools like a solid application filled with GPAs, SATs and ACTs, teacher recommendations, extracurricular activities, and leadership opportunities acted upon.