Jump to content

Menu

Do ad coms really read course descriptions?


Recommended Posts

For those of you who have launched a homeschool grad through the admissions process and into college, do you have any evidence that admissions committees/reps have actually read the course descriptions?

I have meticulously crafted them for DD and fully plan to upload as a second transcript, but I’m just a little doubtful they will actually get read in the 5-15 minutes a school spends reading an application. 
 

I assume they carefully review the transcript, test scores, ECs, LOR, school profile, and essays. But it seems unlikely course descriptions will get read unless there is an inconsistency or a specific question. But, I admit, I could be totally wrong. What’s been your experience?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know the scholarship committee of one school read my dd#1's when they considered her for the top competitive scholarships. They commented on a few classes based on the descriptions and asked questions about others to her during the interview portion of the scholarship day.

I have no other evidence anyone read them.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, fourisenough said:

For those of you who have launched a homeschool grad through the admissions process and into college, do you have any evidence that admissions committees/reps have actually read the course descriptions?

I have meticulously crafted them for DD and fully plan to upload as a second transcript, but I’m just a little doubtful they will actually get read in the 5-15 minutes a school spends reading an application. 
 

I assume they carefully review the transcript, test scores, ECs, LOR, school profile, and essays. But it seems unlikely course descriptions will get read unless there is an inconsistency or a specific question. But, I admit, I could be totally wrong. What’s been your experience?

It depends on the college. How many applications they get, how familiar they are with homeschoolers, and how competitive entry is.

One of my sons just graduated from college. His school held an event for admitted students 4 years ago. The admissions reader for our state was there. At one point, he realized who my son was and then turned to me to thank me for the thorough and detailed course descriptions. His comment was that they didn't have to wonder what the courses included. 

My course descriptions were about 8 pages long and included all of his courses, including outsourced classes. 

On the other hand, our youngest graduates from high school this year. One of his colleges was University of Alabama in Huntsville. They ask for a transcript form to be completed that includes a block for a course description. The block holds around 50 characters. I'd be surprised if anyone reads it, because I don't think it would hold useful info. (They also received by more detailed course descriptions, but I don't know if they read it. He was admitted to the honors program with scholarship money.)

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I doubt it. Most colleges don't ask for course descriptions. And colleges that aren't highly selective have no reason to give the transcript more than a cursory glance if the test scores are in the right ballpark.

I would expect course descriptions to be read at an extremely selective school (DD attended a school with an 8% acceptance rate).

I included mine, mainly to demonstrate that I have my act together and that our homeschooling was systematic and thought through.

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect dd's will get glanced at. She has "required for entry" science courses that she completed in middle school. Someone may want to confirm materials and labs were actually high school-level, although her math classes line up appropriately.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, RootAnn said:

I know the scholarship committee of one school read my dd#1's when they considered her for the top competitive scholarships. They commented on a few classes based on the descriptions and asked questions about others to her during the interview portion of the scholarship day.

I have no other evidence anyone read them.

Same.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have two that have graduated homeschool so far.  Our oldest applied to a selective school that specifically asked for course descriptions from homeschoolers.  The acceptance rate was around 18% or so, and he was admitted with good merit money, so maybe they read his course descriptions (??)

For our middle dd, no schools required course descriptions, but I did send them in.  She was invited to on-campus scholarship competitions at 3 schools and received great merit money at all 3, so maybe it played a role, but no way to really know.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, all, for sharing your experiences. I’ll definitely supply them and cross my fingers someone might actually read them. DD will apply to some selective & highly selective schools (along with some less competitive schools), so maybe they’ll be of some use. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I included them, but have no evidence they were read or not read. Both DS's were accepted at all schools they applied to. One DS was in a very competitive major, so it's possible that a few of his math and computer course descriptions were read. The other earned a full tuition scholarship, so I suspect that the scholarship people might have looked at his, but I doubt the admissions people did.

One benefit of creating them - even if no one ever reads them - is that it made *me* feel really confident about what we'd accomished. Somehow seeing it all typed out, even though we were in no way shape or form as rigorous as many on these boards, really helped me see that we *did* do a lot of worthwhile stuff. Sometimes that fact gets lost in the sea of uncertainty and self doubt surrounding college admissions, and it was a good reminder for me 🙂

 

  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have no first-hand knowledge and I'm just starting high school with DD. However, based on what I'm reading in Who Gets in and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions, I will do my best to sell DD's interests and course rigor in those descriptions. Judging from the book, it seems to me that when the applicant readers are on the fence about a particular student, they go digging in his/her application for reasons to justify admission or rejection. Time and again I've read that so many applicants look virtually identical GPA- and score-wise on paper that it's challenging for readers to justify accepting one student over another. Any little unpredictable thing can tip the scale toward admit. Also, I think they do use the descriptions because they investigate small/unknown high schools' course offerings to see whether students did the best they could with what they had access to. So, a student from a small rural school who took the most challenging classes his school had to offer can fair better than a student from a large school who took the same number of challenging classes but had access to many more.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My older ds and I had a face to face meeting with an admissions person at CMU. I had brought all my draft paperwork to see if the person had any suggestions. He was over the moon with the quantity I gave him (transcript, school profile, and 6 page course descriptions). He said, and I quote, "there is no such thing as too much paperwork for a homeschooler." My son got their top merit scholarship, so I assume that they read at least some of it given his response to my paperwork at the meeting. 

I also figured that admissions would only read what they were worried about, so specifically for my ds 1) his biology class because I had said it was with a lab but it was done with no outside verification (and MIT required lab science for Bio), 2) his social studies courses because every single one of them was homegrown with not outside verification for any. So to make these things easier to find, I created a short table of contents on the first page of the course descriptions, figuring they would flip to those. And I made sure those specific course descriptions were particularly good. 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, lewelma said:

So to make these things easier to find, I created a short table of contents on the first page of the course descriptions, figuring they would flip to those. And I made sure those specific course descriptions were particularly good. 

Did you organize the course descriptions by subject area or grade level/year? I’d love to hear others’ responses to this question, too.

And when you upload the course description document, did it retain all its formatting?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

46 minutes ago, fourisenough said:

Did you organize the course descriptions by subject area or grade level/year? I’d love to hear others’ responses to this question, too.

And when you upload the course description document, did it retain all its formatting?

I organized by subject, then within the subject by year. So English 9,10,11,12. Then Maths 9,10,11,12. Etc.  So my Table of contents said what page each subject area was to be found.

I'm pretty sure I created a pdf, so the formatting was set.

ETA: but thinking back on it, I organized by transcript by subject area. So like 8filltheheart, my course descriptions aligned to the order they were listed on the transcript.

Edited by lewelma
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We just sent the same package to all the schools. I believe that 4 were through the common app so every school got whatever we uploaded there. And 1 school didn't use the common app so we sent them the same package. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, fourisenough said:

Did you organize the course descriptions by subject area or grade level/year? I’d love to hear others’ responses to this question, too.

And when you upload the course description document, did it retain all its formatting?

My course descriptions and transcript were organized by subject, with the most recent/most advanced coursework first.  

I saved my documents as PDFs before uploading in order to ensure the formatting is retained.  Don't worry; you'll be able to preview your upload and change it if you don't like it.  I found all the fields in the Common App to be very friendly this way. 

You can change and delete and re-upload any number of times until you hit the final SUBMIT button.  You can print a hard copy of the entire application, all fields completed if you are like me and prefer to edit on paper rather than on screen.  And even the final submit requires multiple, multiple steps, so you really can't accidentally submit.    

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, fourisenough said:

Did you organize the course descriptions by subject area or grade level/year? I’d love to hear others’ responses to this question, too.

And when you upload the course description document, did it retain all its formatting?

Like the others, it was organized by subject & then by year inside each subject. Mine was broadly in the order of my transcript (although my transcript was not organized by subject) and, unlike daijobu, the most recent stuff was last in each subject area. 

I uploaded a pdf like the others so formatting was fine. Watch your margins, though. Back when I did it, the PDFs would upload with an added border. I ended up making my pdf border really tiny so that their added border wouldn't shrink my document too much. I don't know of it still does that. You can see whast it does before submitting. It is fairly obvious.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, RootAnn said:

I uploaded a pdf like the others so formatting was fine. Watch your margins, though. Back when I did it, the PDFs would upload with an added border. I ended up making my pdf border really tiny so that their added border wouldn't shrink my document too much. I don't know of it still does that. You can see whast it does before submitting. It is fairly obvious.

Yes!   I found this too!  It was annoying.  I hope they fix it.  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, JazzyMom said:

So did you all submit course descriptions even if they weren’t requested? I believe only 1 of the schools dd is applying to requests course descriptions.

Because most of the schools used Common App, they got the same documents. 

I also sent the package my mail or email to schools that were not on Common App (except for UCSD and University of Washington, which used a self reported academic record and didn't want a transcript).

I don't see the majority of schools specifying they want course descriptions. What I tend to see is a request for an explanation of how and where the course was done, books used, how it was assessed, etc. The question is phrased differently, but the course descriptions tend to answer the questions. 

There is also a supplementary section on the counselor side of the Common App that asks about homeschool coursework. I tend to respond to most of it by referring the reader back to the course descriptions or school profile. Just "See Course Descriptions." Or "See School Profile."

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, 8filltheheart said:

I match my course descriptions to my transcript. Exact same order.

This is what I did too. 

And all our schools were on the Common App so they all got the same thing. The course descriptions were uploaded as a second transcript, if I remember correctly.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just adding two things to this - the schools that post that they require them *definitely* are reading them. Of the other schools... some are, some aren't. 

In the era of test optional and test blind, the rigor of the curriculum has taken on a new weight for a lot of college admissions. With that in mind, schools that weren't reading them a decade ago that are now test optional are more likely to at least look at them.

  • Like 6
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

At least two colleges gave us hints that they read them, when they interviewed him. I suspect others might not.

As to whether everyone gets the course description— in the Common App, I seem to recall (it’s been a couple of years) there is one place to upload your transcript. I figured I had to create a transcript that met the most requirements imposed by each college he applied to, so that it would meet all of their requirements; this means the course descriptions were part of the transcript. I did make it easier on the colleges that were not interested, by making the first page the “Cover” for the transcript (school name, graduation date, student name, date of birth, school address & phone, abbreviation legend, etc), and page two was a single-page summary transcript that listed the courses, credits, grades, and a page number where they could find a course description of each course. That way if someone just wanted to see the reading list for English, or whether we covered Evolution in biology or what the heck the “History of Science” was, they could find it quickly.

My thought process was to make it clean, complete, and easy to find what they might be looking for. Then everyone got the same thing (thank you Common App) and it was up to them to sort out what they wanted.

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...