In order to rate or evaluate the extent to which you have challenged yourself, some colleges will literally count and record the number of “rigorous” courses (AP/IB/Honors/Dual Enrollment/Advanced) you have taken during high school. Most institutions using holistic review, however, have developed an internal rubric to rate the strength of your curriculum choices based on the curriculum available in your school.
Review this example rubric.
5 - Extremely challenging course selection in all subject areas. May have gone beyond
school offerings to seek additional content.
4 - Highly challenging course selection in all subject areas.
3 - Moderately challenging course selection in most subject areas.
2 - Less challenging course selection in some or most subject areas.
1 - No evidence of rigorous course selection.
Based on your course choices since ninth grade, circle how you would evaluate the rigor of your curriculum overall and make brief notes (as a counselor would) about your evaluation?
*In most admission offices, after the initial review of a transcript, at least one or two other staff members will read notes and review transcripts.
If you are comfortable, ask a friend if they would consider switching transcripts with you and walking through the questions and prompts in this exercise. Just like in an admission office, you can learn a great deal from additional perspectives and observations.
What is their overall rating?
Does that align with your evaluation? (Note: It is common for admission counselors to disagree. When that is the case, they will add notes to your file for additional layers of review or committee evaluation.)
Does your friend’s evaluation of your choices within certain grades or subject areas vary from their overall rating?
Does their assessment mirror or differ from yours?
Ask them to make any additional comments on your academic choice, performance, and rigor of curriculum.
What takeaways or comments do they provide that are helpful to you in understanding how colleges may read the academic portion of your application?