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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Over Specialization in High School

I want to share a little trend I've noticed in recent years that seems to be gaining momentum. It seems as though students are trying to show a specialty through their high school work. I'm not talking about magnet programs. In my experience, magnet programs allow for deep work in certain disciplines without sacrificing work in other core subjects. I'm talking about students who are dropping core subjects to double and triple up in others.

High school is the time to build a great foundation. College is where you solidify that foundation and then leap into specialization. We don't need students interested in Commerce to take scores of business classes in high school. We need them to have a great platform from which to dive into the more advanced work they'll do here.

Dropping core classes in high school to get electives in an area of interest isn't necessarily going to "look good" to admission officers.

Instead of being impressed that you were able to take Business Development and a slew of marketing courses, we're going to wonder why you haven't taken a foreign language since 10th grade or why there is no science on your transcript for senior year.

At UVa, most students don't declare a major until they've been here for a little while. In the College of Arts and Sciences, you have until the end of the 2nd year to declare. If you think you know what you want right now, be aware that you might change your mind. It's really common!

For now, focus on getting a solid foundation in high school. We consider your core high school subjects to be English, Math, Social Studies, Science, and Foreign Languages. Electives are interesting, but your core foundation is what's most important to us as we're analyzing your transcript.