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Articles / Applying to College / Will Online Senior English Class Affect College Admission Odds?

Sept. 9, 2011

Will Online Senior English Class Affect College Admission Odds?

Question: I am currently enrolled in an English 12 course at school, but I'm thinking of dropping out and registering for an online English 12 course instead. The reason is that all the English 12 teachers at my school are strict markers so that everyone is sure that we will not be able to get high marks. I think I will do better if I could take English 12 online in my pace, but I'm just worried if there's going to be any college-admission disadvantage if I take the class online.

Taking an important required subject like senior English online is going to raise big red flags when college officials evaluate your transcript.


If you decide to pursue this route, they will want to know why, and "Getting a better grade" is not going to win you fans in admission offices. If you say that the in-school class is too fast-paced, admission officers may be more supportive of your motives, but this may also prompt concerns that you will buckle under the stress of college workloads.

Typically, the “good" reasons for opting for an online class include:

-Enrichment (Your school doesn't offer a class that you want.)

-Schedule conflict (A class you want or need to take is only offered at the same time as another class you want or need.)

-Prerequisite (You need to take a class in one semester that will enable you to get into a higher-level course in the next.)

-Make-up (You failed a class or wish to re-take one in which you performed poorly.)

If you are applying to less selective colleges, choosing a legitimate online class won't affect your admission odds as much as it might if you are aiming for more competitive schools. If, however, you think you can convince admission officials that you have a worthwhile academic reason for taking the online class—one that will make you look like an eager student and not a lazy one (e.g., it's more rigorous, the books or other material it covers will be more interesting to you, it will give you time to take multivariate calculus at a nearby college), then you can give it a shot. But persuading the admission folks to believe that you've picked the online class for its challenge and content is likely to be a hard sell. :-(

(posted 9/9/2011)

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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