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Articles / Applying to College / Should Online Class Go on Transcript?

May 19, 2011

Should Online Class Go on Transcript?

Question: At the beginning of this year, I was originally enrolled in AP Psychology. However, I wanted to try being a writer for our school newspaper which is a class. I switched out of AP Psych and into newspaper but decided to take AP Psych online through JHU CTYOnline. I wanted to take AP Psych because the previous year in English, we learned about some of the experiments and I found the topic interesting. I am happy with the course because I was able to learn more about the experiments and theories. However, the class was incredibly easy and I received an A but due to the easiness, I was not prepared for the AP test and decided not to take it.

My question now is should I report this class to my school so it will go on my transcript as a weighted A or leave it off? I do not need the credit and I think that taking an online AP class and then not taking the test will look bad. However, if I receive school credit for it, I will be tied for number 1 in my class of over 500, pending straight A's this semester. The only difference between me and the current number 1 will be that he has taken one more AP class than I have and this will bump his GPA above mine. Without AP Psych on my transcript, I would still be in the top 5-10. However, is there something to be said for being number 1?


Yes, perhaps unfortunately, there is “something to be said” in our society for being Number 1, even though most college admission officials realize that, in many high schools, a fraction of a fraction of a point can separate Number 1 from Number 9 or pursuing a passion (if, God forbid, it’s an unweighted class) can bump a student down to a double-digits rank. So I would suggest that you do put the AP Psych class on your transcript and then use the "Additional Information" section of your applications to briefly explain to colleges exactly what you've told us. Admission officials will give you "brownie points" for pursuing an academic area on your own, out of an interest that was ignited in English last year, even if you concede that it was an easy A.

If adding the class to your transcript didn't make a difference in your class rank, I would probably tell you to leave it off. But since it will make you co-valedictorian ... and since you did the work and got the good grade ... you might as well reap this benefit from it.

(posted 5/19/2011)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

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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