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Articles / Applying to College / Will Demanding 10th-Grade Courses Impress Colleges?

Will Demanding 10th-Grade Courses Impress Colleges?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Dec. 18, 2017

Question: I was just wondering. In my school, American School of Paris, I am in 10th grade and am currently taking two AP courses (AP US History and AP Computer Science) and an Honors course (Advanced Algebra Pre-calculus). Do you think that with a B average in these classes I can show on my college applications my growth and willingness to take on harder challenges?

Taking two AP classes and an honors math course as a sophomore definitely shows that you are eager for academic challenges, and earning B’s in these classes proves that you can handle the work. Both of these factors will be pluses for you at college-application time down the road.

However, international students often aim for a fairly limited list of U.S. colleges and universities, commonly focusing on the most well-known places like the Ivies, Stanford, and MIT.  Since you are in an American school and may be an American citizen, it’s certainly possible that you’ve already be exposed to a wider range of U.S. institutions. But if the subtext of your question is really, “Can I get into Harvard, Yale and the like with B’s in my 10th grade AP and honors classes?” the answer is only a shaky “Maybe.”

College admission officials will evaluate lots of information in your application and overall profile, and the classes you take in your junior and senior years—along with the grades you earn in them—will play a starring role.  However, at the most sought-after U.S. colleges, your “competition” will include candidates from all over the world who have taken the most rigorous curriculum available in their high schools and have earned a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA or close to it.

So it sounds like you are on an excellent path right now but, when it comes time to apply to colleges, be sure to balance your admission risk with a mix of “Reach,” “Realistic,” and “Safe” options.

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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