The Ivy Coach Daily

March 11, 2024

Senior Year Courses and Grades in College Admissions

Senior Year Classes, Classes for Senior Year, Senior Year Courseload
AP Statistics does not count as math to elite colleges.

Previously Published on August 8, 2012:

Many students believe that their senior year courses aren’t especially important. Maybe they feel they did the heavy lifting during their first three years of high school, and since they’ll learn of their college decisions in mid-December of their senior year (for the Early Action/Decision round) through the beginning of April (for Regular Decision notifications), why should it matter what courses they take and how they do during their final year of high school? Well, let’s put the kibosh on this thinking once and for all!

Senior Year Courses and College Admissions

Yes, Your Senior Year Courses Matter

Admissions officers at our nation’s elite universities seek to admit students who challenge themselves by taking the most rigorous curriculum possible throughout the entirety of high school — and then some. Note that we didn’t suggest it’s only important for students to take the most rigorous curriculum during a couple of years of high school. No, it’s critical that they take the most rigorous curriculum all the way through, for failure to do so would demonstrate a lack of intellectual curiosity.

So, what does that mean for applicants to America’s elite colleges? Among other things, it means that a student can’t stop or switch their foreign language. It means they can’t take AP Statistics and think that counts as math (it doesn’t!). It means they can’t not take science, English, or history. It means if a school offers an AP class that, they shouldn’t be in the regular class. It means if a school doesn’t offer coursework beyond a certain level in a particular core subject, they go above and beyond what their school offers by taking the class online or at a local community college.

Your Grades for Those Courses Matter, Too

But it’s not just about taking the most rigorous courses as a high school senior. It’s also about performing well in those courses, especially during the year’s first half. If your question is, “Is it better to get a B in an honors class or an A in a non-honors class,” the answer is always…an A in an honors class. Sorry, we know it’s not the answer you likely wanted to hear, but it’s the truth nonetheless.

During the Early Action/Decision round, many schools request first-quarter grades. In addition, mid-year grades are submitted for the Early Decision II and Regular Decision rounds. And since admissions officers always want to see students performing well in the most rigorous curriculum, these senior year grades become critical components of their admissions process. They can truly make or break the decision.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Senior Year Course Selection

Suppose you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission to elite universities. In that case, Ivy Coach can help you stand out not only from your competitors applying from high schools around the world but from your competitors at your own high school. One of the ways we’ll help do this is by mapping out the most rigorous curriculum possible for you, especially for senior year, and then some! So, fill out our complimentary consultation form. We’ll then be in touch to outline our go-forward college counseling services.

You are permitted to use (including the content of the Blog) for your personal, non-commercial use only. You must not copy, download, print, or otherwise distribute the content on our site without the prior written consent of Ivy Coach, Inc.


If you’re interested in Ivy Coach’s college counseling,
fill out our complimentary consultation form and we’ll be in touch.

Get Started