Your academic program is very important to us; we need to see you challenging yourself in the classroom. In general, this means that you should take one of the toughest (if not the toughest) academic programs offered by your high school. In other words, if the toughest program normally taken by a college-bound senior at your school consists of four AP or dual-enrollment courses plus another honors-level academic "solid," such a schedule would look good to us if we saw it on your transcript. On the other hand, if the best program for a senior at your school is two honors-level courses plus three academic "solids," that would look good to us, too. Because terrific students come to us from many different kinds of high schools and because, in fact, most students don't have any say-so in where they go to high school, we try to evaluate each applicant's academic program within the context of his or her school.
We fully understand that students' course selection may be affected by circumstances that are beyond their control. Some schools place strict limits on the number of advanced or honors courses that any individual student can take. Other schools have severe scheduling conflicts that keep students from enrolling in courses they might otherwise have sought out. In these cases we still would like to see students taking the strongest courses available to them. And we would like to hear why the schedule turned out as it did; for example, a student might discuss his or her course selection in the "Additional Information" section of the Common Application, or the counselor might explain the circumstances to us on the School and Transcript Report.