Q&A: What are Some Etiquette Tips for Sitting in on Classes...and Other Questions


Etiquette for Sitting in on Classes

I'll be sitting in on a class at the University of Washington in a couple days and it'll be my first time ever sitting in on a class. Are there certain rules or etiquette I should follow when I'm there?

Sitting in on a class before you enroll (or even apply) is a pretty regular occurrence. I remember seeing a prospective student sitting in on one of my grad school core classes every couple of weeks or so.

My advice - Arrive early, but don’t enter the class until time. Be prepared to introduce yourself. Do the class reading beforehand, if you can. Bring something to write with and on. And remember to put your phone away.


Does going to an underrepresented HS ruin my chances of admission?

My high school's reputation has suffered in the last few years due to some incidents outside of academics. Not to mention, our AP pass rate is around 45%, and our free/reduced lunch rate is around 60%. There isn't a culture of competitiveness, but there's still an ample number of AP offerings + competitive clubs.

Going to a school with a high free/reduced lunch rate and fewer resources usually improves your chances for admission, especially if you have high test scores and rigorous coursework like dual enrollment core classes.

Admissions officers look at the statistics for your high school which includes data like the free and reduced lunch rate, median test scores, and student-teacher ratios. They then use that information in conjunction with your personal stats to assess your application. If you outperform your nation-wide peers with respect to test scores and extracurriculars, even though you’re at a low-performing school, it says a lot about your ability to perform at the college level and work in our favor.

What is considered an "academic achievement"?

Are extra-curricular awards, such as robotics competitions, science fair, and band competitions/auditions considered "academic achievements" in the "Honors" section in the Common Application?

Yes, all those things are considered academic achievements. I would also include honors like:

  • making the Dean's List or Honor Roll

  • being a member of an academic honors society

  • earning the title of valedictorian or salutatorian

  • earning the IB diploma

  • selection for a top academic internship in your intended career field

  • winning a research prize

  • publication in a peer-reviewed journal or book

  • placing in quiz bowls, spelling competitions, or CTE/STEM competitions


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