Today, we’ll share tips and pointers that we picked up from recent college counseling conferences (prior to the Coronavirus hiatus). Additionally, we have updates regarding changes to testing, both national and international. Here we go!
Interested in STEM, pre-health, or business undergraduate programs? If so, take a look at your current math classes and upcoming course schedule. Are you on track to take calculus by senior year? In recent presentations by directors of admission from some of Florida’s public and private colleges and universities, we heard repeatedly that if applicants indicate an interest in a math- or science-related field on their college application, colleges will check if students have calculus by senior year (preferred), or, in certain circumstances, be calc-ready upon starting college. Students interested in those fields should NOT opt for easier math courses their senior year (i.e. math for college readiness, statistics, or another similar course) – and should elect rigorous science and math courses throughout all four years of high school. Interested in business but won’t be calc-ready? Check out the hospitality major, which offers courses similar to those of a traditional business or marketing degree, but without the demanding math requirement. Additionally, some schools (Florida Atlantic University, for instance) have instituted a pre-engineering program for students interested in that field but who are not quite ready.
Speaking of courses and curriculum, a question came up regarding upper-level course work (frequently asked us by parents and students): is it better to take AP courses or Dual Enrollment ones? While there’s no “right” answer to this question, we have a few thoughts. Selective colleges seek students who take challenging courses, and while AP and DE courses are both challenging, AP is generally preferred because it’s universal. That is, AP Bio is AP Bio whether you take it in Florida, New York, Switzerland, or anywhere in the world! The same cannot be said of DE courses. It’s fine to take a DE course if your school doesn’t offer the equivalent AP course or if you have a scheduling conflict; DE is also a good idea if it’s a higher-level core academic course for which you’re ready, such as DE Differential Equations (after two years of AP Calculus). If you plan to apply to out-of-state schools, be aware that they may or may not accept Dual Enrollment courses for credit and/or may only accept a limited number of credits. In this case, taking AP courses is preferred, as they are widely accepted for credit, pending exam scores. If you’re planning to stay in-state, you should be cognizant of a few things regarding DE classes: first, these grades become part of your permanent college GPA, and if you get grades of C or lower in these classes, your chances of admission to a premier state university may be affected. Secondly, if you are pursuing a significant number of college credits as a high school student, keep in mind that although you’re applying to in-state programs as a first-year student, you may be entering as a second-year student – or higher! Will you be comfortable potentially taking upper-level courses with older students? Students taking many DE classes should make sure they are fulfilling pre-req requirements for their intended major. Chat with your guidance counselor, or contact an admissions rep for the university you’re interested in to see if your course plans work. You can call us, as well, for guidance.
Lastly, each day it seems like there’s a new update regarding changes in the educational field as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Both Cambridge (AICE) and the IB program just announced cancellation of late-spring testing. Please see here and here for more information. College Board has already canceled the May SAT and is reformatting May’s AP tests as 45-minute virtual essay exams. Stay tuned for further updates!