What should you do if your high school doesn't offer advanced classes?

As part our College Q & A guide, we decided to ask your questions to the experts. Here are their answers.

Johnson III

No surprise, admission officers prefer college applicants who have a real hunger for knowledge and a solid personal pursuit of intellectual challenges. Also, nearly all admission officers understand that not every student has the same access and opportunities to advanced classes in their high schools. However, several approaches can illustrate your thirst for learning and your academic ability. First, you can work with one of your high school teachers and create an independent study course to study an advanced subject area. This requires a great deal of determination, maturity, organizational skills, and real academic love, which admission officers love to see. Second, you can take classes at a community college or a local college. This is a great way to show your college readiness to admission officers. Our advice is to have one of your high school teachers to be your mentor during the courses in case you need additional assistance and support. Third, you can create an informal group of classmates to pursue more advanced studying in a particular subject area. The informal group should work with a high school teacher. Last, many colleges such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford and CalTech have summer programs for talented high school students who have shown exceptional intellectual abilities. These programs are wonderful opportunity to get advanced training in a particular subject. Overall, limited access to advanced classes should not stop your pursuit of intellectual rigor.

Choi, Owner, Admissions Mavens

First off — don’t worry. Individual students will not be penalized for the curricular and institutional policies in their high schools which limit advanced course offerings. Colleges will know which courses your school offers because your high school submits a “school report” which describes what kinds of courses its offers. That said — if you have exhausted the course offerings at your school — consider pursuing some intellectual interests on your own. Check out your local community college or reputable online schools for AP or other advanced offerings. In addition, remember that you can take the AP exam without taking an AP course! So if you are taking a course at a local college or online that essentially covers AP material — you might want to consider looking into taking the relevant AP.

Wolf, College Consultant, Wolf College Consulting

Not every school offers Advanced Classes and college admissions officers are aware of this. When you send in your transcripts, the Admissions Office is able to read about your School Profile so they can better understand if you took the hardest classes available at your school. Below are some suggestions for students that do not have advanced classes available: 1) Make sure you are taking a full academic load. If able, take 4 years of all academic courses available 2) Take some courses at a city college. This can benefit you in two ways — You can get college credit in high school and you are able to show the Admissions Office that you are successful in college coursework 3) Take CLEP tests. Many colleges accept CLEP test scores for college credit (like AP tests). Look online to find out what if your colleges accept CLEP tests and take ones that you believe you can pass.

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