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Monday, March 29, 2010

BY GERALD M. BRADSHAW
gerald_bradshaw@post.harvard.edu
Bradshaw College Consulting
(219) 663-3041

Dear Mr. Bradshaw,

My parents are from China and I have no idea how the whole college process works. I know you apply and then get accepted, but what after that? How do you know what to major in and what classes to take? And after that, when you graduate and apply to grad school, what do you do then?

The whole procedure seems so complicated. I'm going through that process right now as a sophomore. I'm currently ranked number 3 in my class. For the fall, these are the classes I've registered for: Advanced Placement World History, AP Language and Composition, AP Statistics, AP Environmental Science, AP Latin, Physics, Math III, Greek II, and possibly, AP Art History, depending on my what schedule allows.

Do you have any suggestions on what classes that I should be taking that I'm not?

Signed: Clueless about college

Student on right track for college success



Dear Clueless,

Actually, you are far from clueless. These are excellent classes in preparation for college.

I am impressed with AP Statistics, because not many students take that course in high school. It will help you stand out when applying, and it is an excellent course in preparation for business or grad school later on.

And I haven't had a client take both Latin and Greek in over five years. Colleges will jump at the opportunity to interview you. Classics departments drool over students like you and will do everything they can to persuade the college to admit you.

So my short answer to your question is not to worry; you have some very smart people advising you.

On the cautionary side, I did notice that Greek is not listed as an AP class. This usually means it is offered as a non-weighted grade. That means an A earned in Greek might only equal a 4.0 instead of a 5.0 if it were offered as an AP class. This could be an important distinction if you have your heart set on graduating as valedictorian.

Rest assured that top colleges have representatives that will be familiar with your high school curriculum. You'll be respected for taking Greek even though it is not weighted.

You also mentioned being Chinese-American. I was not so sure whether brushing up on Chinese would help with admission, so I contacted an undergraduate at Princeton who is also Chinese with your question.

She e-mailed be back in no uncertain terms, "Honestly speaking, I do not think that would be of major help in terms of making her a better candidate for college admissions. There are already plenty of Chinese Americans who can speak fluent Chinese."

There you have it, from an insider and one whose opinion I respect.

So my advice is to stay focused on Latin and Greek, the languages you are most proficient in now. Your chances of getting admitted might be higher.

As far as career and grad school is concerned, the best preparation is what you are doing now. The key is to master the fundamentals while in high school.

And don't forget to budget time for preparing for the SAT. As cold as this may seem, roughly half the decision to admit you will be based on those scores.

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