What If My High School Offers Few Rigorous Classes?

by | Jun 18, 2021

Not all high schools offer tons of challenging courses. If this is the case for you, what should you do to prove that you’re indeed ready for college-level work? Here are your two best options:

Option 1: Look for Outside Options

Whether your school lacks advanced study options or lacks subjects you find especially compelling, one option is to take classes outside your school. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does your school offer a dual enrollment program? If so, you could take rigorous college-level courses that provide both high school and college credit.
  • Do you have the opportunity to take online or summer courses? This could be a way to fill in curriculum gaps.
Option 2: Explain Your Circumstances on Your Application

College admissions offices put a tremendous amount of effort into figuring out what your high school is like when they look at your transcript.

This is why if you go to a low-performing school, it’s a good idea to include in your college application a description of what was and was not available at your high school.

You should also definitely know that even the most exclusive colleges do not expect you to be able to provide coursework for yourself outside what your school offers you.

For example, Yale’s admission Q&A page stresses how much they take context into account:

“We know you did not design your school’s curriculum … Different schools have different requirements that may restrict what courses you can take. Again, we only expect that you will excel in the opportunities to which you have access.”

Nevertheless, very competitive colleges will favor those students that made the effort to take rigorous courses that were not necessarily available to them in school. If this is the route you want to take, look into your local community college for summer classes, or online courses.

Questions? Let’s chat!

Bettina Weil

Weil College Advising, LLC


Weil College Advising

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