Just Admit It: How Do College Admissions Officers Evaluate Transcripts?

By IvyWise on Monday, July 19, 2021

Learn How College Admissions Officers Evaluate Transcripts

Your high school transcript is often considered the most important piece of information admissions officers have to evaluate. At the end of the day, college is an academic endeavor, so admissions officers are looking to understand how you perform in the classroom and the subjects that interest you.

Given the importance of transcripts, many students may be wondering exactly what goes into evaluating these documents. Keep reading to learn more about how admissions officers view transcripts and check out our latest Just Admit It! podcast episode for even more information on the topic.

School Profiles Provide Context

Admissions officers are reviewing applications from students who attend high schools across the globe. Since every school is different, school profiles provide admissions officers with valuable information about the academic institution that every applicant is coming from. By learning about the types of courses available and course rigor, admissions officers can more accurately evaluate how a student performs, even compared to applicants from other high schools. A strength of school rating can be applied to provide more information to the admissions office about how students perform on average at a specific institution.

It’s Not All a Numbers Game

Many students may feel like they need to take as many AP courses as possible to wow an admissions office. While it is true that admissions officers will look favorably upon students who have challenged themselves with higher-level courses, they also understand that not every high school offers plenty of AP classes for students to choose from. If your school has limited offerings, admissions officers will not count it against you. Ultimately, students should strive to take the most challenging courses available to them and prioritize getting the best grades possibles in these classes.

Start Course Planning Early

Admission officers will review all four years of a student’s transcript. Aim to take a similarly full-picture approach to plan what classes you will take. Start by taking a step back and evaluating the classes you hope to take as a senior, which will most likely be the highest level (or “terminal”) classes. Then, work backward to identify the courses you will need to take to set yourself up for success in these challenging classes. For example, a student who hopes to take AP Calculus BC will need to take Precalculus prior to enrolling in this course.

Get a Jumpstart on Pre-Requisites and Requirements

Every high school will have its own set of requirements that students must complete in order to graduate. Rather than waiting until junior or senior year to make sure you’re on track to earn your degree, prioritize required courses during your freshmen and sophomore year. By doing this preparation work early, students can ensure that they have room in their schedules during junior and senior year for more advanced level coursework or double up on the subjects that they are interested in so that they can convey this sense of passion in the transcripts they submit.

Be Selective About Electives

When admissions officers are evaluating transcripts, they will review every element of the document, including the electives you choose to take. It’s important to put the same level of dedication and effort into these classes as you do into your core classes like English and Math. Don’t view electives as a throw-away class but instead think of them as another opportunity to let your passions and interests shine.

Since high school grades and transcripts are an important component of the college admissions process, students need to be selective about the courses they are taking and prioritize good grades from the start. If you’re getting ready to apply to college and looking for personalized guidance, our team of admissions experts can support you throughout the process.

Related Topics
College Application Tips, Course Planning
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