Lots of folks ask us a similar question quite regularly. Maybe they all phrase it a little differently but the purpose of the question remains the same. Essentially, the question is this: “Is it better to get a ‘B’ in an Honors course or an ‘A’ in a non-Honors course?” And the answer is: “It’s better to get an ‘A’ in an Honors course.” Yes, that’s the answer. And there’s no way around it.
Many folks think that the very best colleges want to see the very best grades. And these folks are right. The Harvards, Yales, Dartmouths, and Columbias of the world want to see straight ‘A’s’. They don’t want to see ‘B’s’ — these are some of the very best schools in the world. There are enough students in America and throughout the world who get all ‘A’s’ so, yes, that ‘B’ in AP Chemistry in 11th grades does hurt you. It may hurt. But it’s the truth.
But just because colleges want to see the very best grades doesn’t mean they want to see the very best grades in a curriculum that is not the most rigorous possible — and then some — at a student’s high school. The very best schools want to see that students take the toughest classes offered at their high school. After all, these students are applying to the very best colleges and if they can’t even get into — and excel — in the most rigorous classes at their high school, it’s not a good sign.
So, much to the chagrin of parents and students everywhere, the answer remains, “It’s better to get an ‘A’ in an Honors course.” It’s likely not the answer you wanted to hear. But it’s the answer nonetheless.