1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

1780 | The Official Blog of Transylvania University

Standing out: Selecting high school classes that will impress colleges


The high school transcript is one of the most important pieces of your college application. It acts as a megaphone, amplifying who you are, what your interests are and exactly how much time you’ve put into your studies.

If you were to apply today…what would your high school classes say about you?

Here are answers to the most asked questions about high school coursework:

  1. Should I take honors, AP, IB, or dual-credit/college courses?

All of these types of courses can provide a challenging experience that will help prepare you for college. And this is exactly what admissions offices want to see. We want to see that you are willing to test yourself with academic rigor and go “above and beyond” the standard coursework. Would it be more challenging to take an AP chemistry in your high school or an English I course at a dual-credit community college? Whichever prepares you more for college is likely the better choice. Guidance counselors are a great resource that can help you narrow down these options at your school.

(P.S. If you have interested in getting a head start on college, check out our Summer Academic Program for high school juniors and seniors!)

  1. What’s best: having a higher GPA in standard courses or a lower GPA in challenging courses?

In most cases, taking an honors, AP, or IB class and getting a B is a better choice than getting an A in a standard course. Many high schools give weight to AP grades so that a B in AP Biology might be a 3.3 instead of a 3.0 on your transcript. We don’t want you to sail through high school and struggle in college. We want to see that you’ve prepared as much as possible by taking, what sometimes may be, the tough road.

  1. Choosing electives: I really want to work on the school newspaper, but it means I can’t take AP Chemistry. Will it hurt my chances of getting in?

While we want to see rigor, we don’t want you to feel perpetually overwhelmed. Filling your plate with honors classes can be potentially disastrous combined with many other commitments. Your college application is about having a balanced, well-rounded high school resume. Taking electives like journalism or art beyond your core coursework is a great way to explore interests and discover new skills. Showing leadership through extracurricular activities or athletically on the field, on the court, or in the pool also shows your many dimensions.

  1. What if my coursework isn’t rigorous enough to be accepted?

When we see a transcript, we want to see that you’ve challenged yourself, but your transcript isn’t your end-all, be-all. Plus, not all schools offer honors and AP courses. We only expect that you’ll excel in classes to which you have access. Luckily, our holistic approach to admissions allows us to look at you as a whole person, incorporating all of the other pieces that make you, you… like extracurriculars, community service, religious affiliations, athletics and hobbies outside of the classroom. Seeing an upward trend over time says a lot about you, so buckle down and continue to work hard!

Have questions? Contact us by email at admissions@transy.edu, by phone (859-233-8242) or attend a campus visit. We’ll be happy to help!