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  • Writer's pictureBeth & Tim Manners

Selective Schools Value Elective Choices

University of Rochester: "Selecting only the courses that would be most impressive to a selective admissions committee would be fairly straightforward—choose the most rigorous ones offered at your school. But very few students are capable of excelling across the board in the most difficult courses in every subject. In addition, some very talented students applying to college may be coming from high schools that offer few advanced classes ... Experts at your school should have a much better perspective on the menu of options available and each student’s aptitude. From the admissions office perspective, we wouldn’t want a student to get in over their heads, become overwhelmed by a full slate of difficult courses, and end up with straight C’s."

"Most selective colleges and universities are looking for students who have prepared themselves broadly across academic subject areas. We want to see demonstrated aptitude over all four years of high school in these core academic areas: English, math, sciences, social studies, foreign language, and the arts ... Students who have a strong interest in specialized college majors like engineering, architecture, or an accelerated premedical program should pay special attention to excelling in rigorous math classes. If a student has an emerging interest in a specific career, shadowing a professional who works in that field is likely to provide more perspective than most high school courses labelled “architecture,” “engineering,” or “medicine.”

"Often students may choose courses related to a planned major because they believe that major will enhance their career prospects. But a student’s college major is often less important to their future job prospects than many people believe ... An astounding 93 percent of employers agree that a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major ... Four out of five employers agree that all students should acquire broad knowledge across subjects in the humanities, arts, and sciences ... the top factor associated with a six-figure salary was not one’s college major but having taken a large share of classes outside one’s major."

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