This is a solo episode that answers the question: “Can you get into a good (competitive) college without taking AP, IB, and/or Honors courses?”


Hey college kids. Welcome back to my podcast who cares about college? In today’s episode, I’ll be doing a solo episode, and I will be answering the question, can I get into a good school with no APS IBS or honors?

So before I start and say anything, you know, give you some facts and give you my opinion in general, I want to say a few things. So first of all, I’m not an admissions officer, your chances of getting into a school do not solely depend upon your grades. There are other factors such as your extracurriculars, your essays, your recommendation, letters, stuff like that, that goes into your application.

So grades are not everything. But I do think grades are very important. So even though I’m not an admissions officer, I will give you some facts that I found or some quotes from different schools that I found, and give you an overall idea like how, how much should you challenge yourself in high school to be a fit for the for these kinds of schools? So obviously, I can’t give you an answer. And your application does not depend upon your grades. So whatever I’m saying here, I’m not 100% Sure, but I’m trying to give you the facts.

And the educated guesses I guess, you could say I make based on what the college is telling me. Number two, I won’t be answering the question, can I get into any school with no APS IVs and honors because there are schools out there that accept 100% of their applicants. And I’m not talking about community college community college, you get accepted, right.

And you don’t have to have APS IVs, or honors to get accepted to community college. But there are universities out there that do accept 100%, or probably 9590, to 100% of their applicants. And that obviously shows that they’re not, they’re not selective, they’re not looking for the top top students. So you could get away with no APS IVs, or honors by entering into those colleges. So the colleges that I’ll be focusing on today are very in prestige. So I’m going to do some top 20 schools.

And then I’m also going to talk about a few other schools that are not as prestigious or are not ranked as high as the top these top 20 schools, but are still very, very good schools, people all across the United States know them. They’re known for some really good programs and stuff, even though they’re not in the, you know, top 20 or they’re not as prestigious or as esteemed as these schools.

First, I’m going to be looking at the prestigious schools. And one thing I was doing so I was doing some research, and I was looking on the website of the colleges, to see if they could give me the averages because their class profile. So the class profile that the colleges give for every year, they provide stuff such as diversity, racial diversity, how many males females in the college stuff, like basic statistics like that, but I couldn’t find anything on, on average, how many people take on average, how many APS do the admitted students take?

I couldn’t find stuff like that. So but what I did find was in the, in on the website, whether it was in the FAQ, or somewhere else, I did find that the colleges do mention what the rigor, the rigor that they expect. So I’m going to be using quotes from those colleges. And I’m going to be using the I’m going to be using GPAs. And the college does not provide that either.

So I just got those from prep scholar. So the first college we’re going to look at is UChicago. From prep scholar, I found that the average GPA at U Chicago is 4.48. That means that the applicants who are in who come into your Chicago 4.48 means that you did take some APS, I don’t know how the IB system works, but I’m pretty sure it gives you some benefit, right?

So APS IB, or honors, four point anything above a 4.0 shows that you have taken such rigorous courses. So you can already see that the average student who comes to you Chicago has taken APS or an honors classes. And while I was looking through the UChicago website, they kind of gave you a list. And basically it was saying how, how you should schedule your high school life. So they gave their suggestions on how you should plan your freshman, sophomore, junior and senior year of high school.

And I just took the ones from sophomore and junior year because they were the most significant ones. So and this is a quote from the you Chicago website during sophomore year, consider whether your course choices will allow you to take advantage of the most advanced courses that already shows that they’re looking they expect you to put your schedule together in a way that you are taking the most advanced courses.

And then I think directly below that are like a bullet below that they say during junior year. Take challenging honors, advanced AP or IB classes available as appropriate. This is they’re not telling you you have to take but they’re it’s another thing. They’re expecting you to take it. And if they’re recommending this, I would strongly say like, Yeah, listen to the advice.

So as for you, Chicago, the average applicant, obviously has taken APS honors IB throughout high school because of the 4.48. And as for you, Chicago’s expectation based on these, these quotes that I found on their website, they do expect that the applicants have taken some APs and honors. Now, let’s move on to Harvard. So we all know, Harvard, it’s, I think, I would say it’s probably one of the most famous schools, at least internationally.

And in the United States itself. You could say Harvard, and people will automatically know Yeah, Harvard, and people all across the world. If you say Harvard, there’ll be like, Oh, Harvard that you know, that really prestigious school in the United States. So Harvard is very well esteemed. And obviously, they have really good academics. So the average GPA at Harvard is a 4.18. St. Just like you Chicago, this shows that the people who are admitted into Harvard are taking, whether it’s AP honors, or IBS in high school, because their GPA is over 4.0.

They are taking these classes, they’re challenging themselves. So the average student does take APS honors, or IVs. And I found here some direct quotes from the Harvard FAQ. Most admitted students are in the top 10 to 15% of their class. Now, this does not directly show that students should be taking a piece Ibiza honors, but it does show that the majority of students that come in are in the top of their class. And usually the people who are in the top of their class have the GPS that are higher, because they’ve taken a psi B’s and honors.

And then another quote I found very similar to you, Chicago, although schools provide different opportunities, students should pursue the most demanding college preparatory program available. Again, they’re not telling you that you should, but they will take your application, your application into consideration. If you take these schools, and they kind of expected they expect you to take these schools upon applying to Harvard.

Now the next university I looked out was Washington University in St. Louis. Most people know it as WashU. So the average GPA there is the same as Harvard 4.18. This shows that the average applicant is also taking APS IBS and honors at Washington University. And another quote I found was 86% of the admitted class, this class of 2023, was in the top 10% of their high school class.

One thing I want to say one thing before I continue on, the reason I have class of 2023 instead of 2024, is because that was the most recent available to me, I don’t know if they’ve completed their like, their profile for the class of 2024. But for all of these colleges, I tried to get the most recent data. So 86% of the admitted class of 2023, was in the top 10% of their high school class.

This is much like Harvard, it shows that the applicants who come the applicants they accept are in the top of their high school class and, and they are in the top of their high school class because they have taken such rigorous courses. Another quote, We do look for students who are strong academically, that is like an automatic, how would you say that is an automatic sign to me that they expect their applicants to have good grades or have really rigorous courses.

And my last quote from Washington University, your main goal should be to challenge yourself in high school to the extent that your high school allows, so you’ll be better prepared for the academic challenges in college. So here they’re talking specifically academics, like challenging yourself in high school, academically challenged yourself in high school, this is the best way to prepare for college.

And the reason colleges expect you to do APS IVs and honors is that these colleges, these classes, are college level classes. If you can succeed in these classes, you show that the university the college, that you can handle the pressure, the work that they’re going to give you. If you don’t have any APS IVs or honors, I can already tell by these schools that they’re gonna have trouble seeing, are you really going to be able to excel here at U Chicago, at Harvard at Washington University.

So that’s why they expect you to take AP IB or honors classes. They want to know that you can handle the coursework now I’m going to move on to another more or less esteem schools less well known schools then the three that I already mentioned, but they’re still very good, very prestigious, have very excellent academics. So the first one is UMD or College Park. The average GPA is a 4.32 at College Park.

The applicants that And I was honestly surprised I didn’t expect the GPA to be this high at UMD. I mean, I know UMD is a very good school. But a 4.3 to average shows that definitely a lot of the applicants and a lot of admitted students do take really rigorous courses. And I could only find a forgot the UMD website is I don’t, there’s not much on it.

But I did find this admitted freshmen students have a strong A minus slash b plus, or better average in their high school coursework in are enrolled in the most challenging courses available to them, including honors, advanced placement or International Baccalaureate courses. They’re basically telling you that the admitted freshmen are taking these courses, at least the majority of them.

Next school is Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University more commonly known as Virginia Tech, or V. Tech, the average GPA was 4.04. And it is lower than UMD and some of the other schools that I mentioned, but it still shows that applicants are taking rigorous courses. And what I found out from that website was, admissions directors use a holistic approach throughout the application review process.

Many factors are considered to include rigor of academic program. So that was, I believe, that was the first thing on their list when they said what they look for in this holistic approach. It was the first thing on their list. Another quote, most students who are selected for admission have completed more than the minimum requirements and have at least a B plus grade point average, a B plus grade point average places you at what about a three point?

I don’t know 3.4 ish to three points, probably 3.6 3.7. So the students who are in who are coming into Virginia Tech, have good grades. And if they’re looking for rigor of academic program, I expect that these students do have rigor. And the last school I have on my list is Michigan State University. So their average GPA is a 3.75. And actually found something very interesting.

Yes, here it is. Applications showing a lack of one of these areas will be considered. However, a less rigorous curriculum will put these applications at a disadvantage. So when they talk about lack in one of these areas, you can lack in certain areas, but it shows that they’re they’re making they want people who have a good rigorous curriculum, I think that’s like the baseline for some of these more prestigious, more selective schools. They want to make sure that their applicants first thing there, they have a good rigorous course load or academic schedule.

Another quote from Michigan State University. Any student considering attending Michigan State as a freshman should pursue a strong college preparatory curriculum that already shows they expect that their applicants have pursued APS IPs and honors throughout high school. Lastly, MSU, Michigan State University encourages students to select honors, advanced placement and International Baccalaureate courses when possible.

So as we can tell from here, the you Chicago, Harvard and WashU, they kind of expect that the people applying to their schools have a good rigorous program. And same goes for UMD, Virginia Tech and Michigan State University, even though they’re not as prestigious, as selective as the other three schools I mentioned, they are still expecting you to have rigor of academic program. I know for sure I’m not. I’m not very familiar with Michigan State University. I’ve heard of it and how good it is.

But I have not heard as much as I have heard from UMD and Virginia Tech, those schools. I live on the east coast. And I know those schools in there are top top, nobody looks down upon them, because they’re not on the level of Harvard or whatever. Everybody looks at those schools. And it’s like, oh my god, you got into UMD, especially if you’ve gotten to like the UMD Honors Program.

That’s so good. You did so good. The tech that’s amazing. You got into Virginia Tech, that’s such a big accomplishment. These schools are still academically challenging, they’re still expecting you to pursue as much as you can in their college. So even though they’re not on the I guess you could say the level or whatever of you, Chicago, Harvard and Washington University or other top schools like Vanderbilt, Notre Dame or Stanford, they are still expecting you to have really rigorous courses based on what I’ve said here.

And the and I guarantee you that if you look at other top schools, other really esteemed schools with fantastic academic programs, they’re going to say something very similar to these schools. We look for students who are academically challenged. We look for people who are who have a rigorous course load all throughout high school. So they look for these types of applicants and oh, and as I said, from the top three schools that I mentioned, this students majority of the students are in What Top 10% Top 15% of their class.

That’s a really, that demands you to have a good rigor in your course load. Now, one thing that kept reoccurring is like, allow you to take advantage of the most advanced, most advanced courses as appropriate, take the best you can in your high school. So for the people who are worrying, like, oh, I don’t have APS on my high school, I don’t have IBS. I don’t even have honors at my high school.

What am I supposed to do? Well, colleges do see, in terms of academics, colleges won’t compare you to other applicants. Because you can’t you can’t help that your school does not have a PS IPs or honors, they’re going to compare you to people in your school. So if even if you don’t have these APS IPs, or honors, if you’re still taking the most advanced classes as you can in your school, that that’s, that’s good for the college, you’re showing that you’re doing as much as you can, because you are limited on the classes you can take.

So Harvard, you Chicago, Washington University, Virginia Tech, whatever, they see that you don’t have many APS, or you don’t have any APS at all in your high school. So they’re fine with that as long as you’re taking the most rigorous course as you possibly can. So at this point, but the question, can I get into a good school with no APS IPs or honors? I can’t tell you for certain because I said there are many components to your application.

But considering what the schools have said, they expect you to do the best you can in high school with the most rigor and such. So really, I think having a psi B’s and honors on your application is kind of a must for the schools, they expect they expect most of their applicants to have these. Now another question that I that came up in my mind as I was researching this, this broad question is what if I’m an athlete?

Do I really need to take a piece IVs and honors and I’m not an athlete. But this question did come up because I know that they didn’t, they don’t expect as much academic performance from an athlete to be recruited because they are recruiting you for your physical ability. So I did find this on the NCS a website, and CSA stands for next college student athlete.

And this is a direct quote from the website, the minimum GPA you can have and still be NCAA eligible for D one is a 2.3 GPA, and a 900 LSAT or 7075 AC T some score, you’ll need a 2.2 GPA and 840 LSAT or 70 att some score to be eligible at the division two level. So I’m, I’m pretty sure Division One is the highest you can get for sports in college.

And as you can see the college’s expectations for their athletes, that at least the academic expectations for their athletes, are not as definitely not as high as for just regular applicants who are being admitted because of not related to you know, athletics. So, and because the GPA that you need the GPA, the minimum GPA for a D, one athlete is a 2.3 that does not show academic rigor that does not show dedication to you know, coursework and you can you can be an athlete, and have a really high GPA.

But if this is the standard, a 2.3, then colleges are not looking for the most academically challenged applicants, at least on different levels, I’m sure, top schools like Harvard or whatever, when they look at their applicants, they want they want the athletes, but I’m pretty sure they’re still looking for a GPA that’s higher than 2.3. They at least want maybe like an average of a b throughout high school.

So of course, it varies based on the school. But if you’re an athlete, they don’t expect as much from you in terms of academics. So for APS IVs and honors as an athlete, but considering the minimum that you need to hit to be considered for D one, D two, I don’t think that it is completely necessary for APS honors, or IBS.

At least it won’t look too bad. If you’re an athlete, and you don’t have those for a regular applicant. If you don’t have those and you’re applying to some really good academically challenging schools, I think they will look down because they will look down on their athletes, they’re recruiting them for a specific sport, whether that’s, I don’t know, basketball, soccer, football, but for regular applicant, they’re looking at your academic performance throughout high school.

So my conclusion to this is, again, I’m not an admissions officer, but I think it’s pretty well known that if you want to attend a school, that’s you know, good, quote unquote Good. Then you’re going to need some AP, some IB some honors, whether one or all one or two or three of those, I don’t know. So I would say that if you are wondering what Whether you need a PS IVs, and honors and let’s say your incoming freshmen into high school, I take them, they will never, it will never hurt you to take in AP, IB or honors except if you think that you’re going to fail in it, if you’re going to fail in the AP class, it’s better to take the regular class rather than the AP, because that’s just going to bring down your GPA.

So you might as well take the regular class in that certain area, instead of taking the AP. So I’m pretty I’m pretty sure in a in a regular class is better than a C in an AP class. But I would say that if you can handle it, and you are aiming for a school, a college with a good academic program, then I would highly encourage you to take APS IB, honors, whatever is offered at your high school, the most rigorous course load you can possibly do.

And I actually actually found something more interesting since I couldn’t find the average GPAs, or the average know the average amount of APS taken by an admitted student at some of these prestigious schools, I did a little bit of research. And I found on PrEP scholar, the average student at this is specifically Ivy League, but I guarantee this will qualify for any top tier, top tier college or university, they expect between seven to 12 APS, that’s like the, that’s the range.

Now the average range for the admitted students into those schools. So you can see that even though the schools do not provide an exact number, prep scholars telling me that seven to 12, APS, and that makes sense for those schools, seven to 12 APS is what you should be aiming for if you’re going for a top tier school, like you Chicago, Harvard or WashU. And for school, such as UMD, Virginia Tech and Michigan State University, they still expect APS because of their GPA, you know, their average students are taking these rigorous courses.

So for those schools, I don’t think you necessarily obviously don’t have to reach 12. That’s they’re not their output, their applicant, they’re not expecting their applicants to have 12 APs. But I do think that having a good amount, maybe four to five for the schools will look good. And remember, you need to have good grades in them. So overall, I do think you need a psi B’s and honors to be considered as a serious applicant for the schools.

Can you get into a good school? I don’t know. I don’t know your extracurriculars or your essays. But your grades, tell the college how well are you going to perform in their school, they want students that perform well. And who will be academically challenged but still come out as people with you know, higher grades, so they want people who can handle the coursework.

So if they can see that you can handle the coursework in high school, your chances of getting in, do decrease, it’s not going to help you so I would recommend, take APS IVs and honors. That’s it for this episode on can I get into a good school with no APS IVs and honors. And one thing I want you to remember, just take if you don’t have any of these courses, or any of these levels in your school, just take the hardest that you can and the college will see that you are taking the most rigorous course load possible.

And obviously I can’t say for Deaf for sure that you’re going to get rejected because you have not taken EPS IVs and honors but your chances of getting in do decrease because you have not challenged yourself academically. So I hope you guys enjoyed the podcast episode. If you liked it, make sure to subscribe so you can get more great content like this. But other than that, I hope to see you guys later