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May 20, 2020

Informing Colleges About Independent Study Classes

Question: I m graduating early and will be doing independent study for health and English. For my college applications, according to my transcript I am missing classes. How do I inform colleges (and the Macaulay Honors Program at CUNY) that i am doing independent study and I will have all the requirements done by the end of the year?

Your independent-study classes need to go on your high school transcript, just as if they were “real” classroom courses. Speak to your guidance counselor to make sure that he or she has put them there. It also wouldn’t hurt for you to notify all of your colleges (including the Macaulay Honors Program, of course), alerting them to this anomaly and explaining how you’ll be conducting your independent studies (time involved, material to be covered, whether or not you’ll be working with a faculty advisor, etc.) .


You can use “Additional Information” sections of applications for this or you can send a separate letter to each school. But it’s most important that your guidance counselor include these “classes” on your transcript. Ideally, he or she would add a brief explanation of what you’ll be doing to your letter of recommendation as well.

(posted 11/14/2010)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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