Q&A: How Important is it to Take Physics...and Other Questions


How important is it to take a physics class to get into a four-year college?

I’m a Junior right now and trying to figure out what classes I want to have next year. I’m thinking about taking an extra elective next year, instead of Physics because I hate science and would rather do something, I enjoy my Senior year. How important is it for me to take Physics if I want to get into T20 schools like Cornell, Stanford, and Columbia?

The difficulty of your senior year schedule is an area that most admissions committees consider when assessing an applicant’s ability to do well in colleges. Admissions staff expect to see a full schedule of core classes in each subject area which includes science classes like Physics, particularly advanced level classes like AP Physics and Honors Physics. Basically, you need to have at least four years of science on your transcript to be competitive and Physics is a part of the science track most students take in high school.


Bottom line, taking (advanced) Physics classes greatly increases an applicant’s chances at a competitive school if they have 4 years of science, which usually includes physics.


Where Should I Include This Information in My Application

I was wondering if you had advice on whether or not serious family hardship is potentially something worth writing about in the additional info section of my Coalition app? In my sophomore year, my mother was arrested for driving under the influence and it definitely affected my mental health and disrupted my academic/social life. Should I report this on my application in the additional information section?

I think you really have two questions here: 1) Should you report how your family situation affected your grades? and 2) should you report this info in the additional information section?

The answer is Yes and Yes. If you believe those events affected your academics or life in a major way, you should include the details in your application. I’ve found that some people like to write about this type of adversity in their primary personal statement and some decide to include it in the additional information section of the application.

This second part is really up to preference, but you should, for sure, report any major life events or family situations that have impacted you as this provides your application reader with the insight needed to understand why your grades may have slipped or how you have overcome personal adversity.


Does my mom auditing classes count as attendance?

For my University of Washington applications, it asks if any prior family has attended UW, and what degree, if any, they received. My mom has audited a few classes at UW over the years and I’m wondering if this counts as attending? I don’t want to lie on my application. What should I do?

I would suggest you check the “No” box as people auditing a course are generally not enrolled as students at the university and thus are not technically attending the school.


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