437: How & Whether to Build More Rigor Into Your High School Schedule

5 Sep

We love student questions! Yvonne wrote in concerned that she doesn’t have enough rigor in her high school schedule, and wanted to know what to do about it. Megan walks us through how to think about “rigor” in high school, and gives some recommendations to Yvonne for what to do next.

Here’s her exact question:

My name is Yvonne and I love your podcast. I truly find it very educational, insightful, and most importantly, entertaining. I really appreciate your efforts. 

As I’ve researched  and learned more about the college admissions process, a subject that’s not talked about a lot in your podcast and that’s vague in many college admissions websites is course rigor. I know AP/IB and honors classes are considered rigorous, but how many of these rigorous classes should I take to be competitive in the top 100 schools?

 I’m planning to apply EA to many schools in order to meet priority deadline for their most prestigious merit scholarships, so when I get my applications in, my transcript will only show the 3 AP and 2 Honors classes over I’ve taken over my high school career, not including the 3 AP classes I’m taking senior year. As I understand, this is on the lower side for competitive universities.

My school offers a lot APs in various subjects and Honors classes in math, but I’ve chosen not to take a lot of APs my sophomore and junior year to make room for foreign language and choir. I didn’t take the honors math classes because I plan to major in something related to humanities. 

I’m worried my rigor will be seen as uncompetitive and be counted against me in the admissions process. After all, I haven’t taken the most rigorous classes available to me at my school as most highly selective universities and merit scholarship committees prefer their applicants to have done. 

What can I do to make up for this low rigor? Can great extracurriculars make up for it? 

Thank you very much,

your friendly neighborhood stressed high school student