For many high achieving students, they often wonder whether they should stay in a higher lane or drop down. There is no fixed answer as the decision should be made based on contextual evidence.
One of the most common situations that students are presented with is the choice between squeezing by with a B in a higher lane or getting an easy A by dropping down a lane. There is much dispute in this regard of which option would look better on a college transcript. Of course, an A in a lower lane would earn you a 4.0 but being in a higher lane demonstrates that you are more willing to take on more challenging courses.
By Lawrence Chen
The course you enroll in should solely depend on the quality of learning in the class. If you are struggling so much in the higher lane that you are barely keeping up then you should definitely drop to a lower lane. In that scenario, you are being put under so much stress that learning is not taking place and you are wasting your time taking the course; thus, by taking a slower-paced course, you can actually learn the material and carry on that knowledge into future courses. On the other hand, if learning is taking place but the only aspect that is suffering is the grade, you should remain in the class. The rigor of the course and the availability of standardized subject tests and APs will compensate for a lower grade in the class. Admissions officers use a holistic process, so if you perform well on the standardized tests, they will realize that you know the material.
According to an Occidental admissions counselor, the admissions board puts less of its emphasis on the GPA of a student and instead takes a more wholesome look at their applicants. In addition to GPA, the board considers a student’s entire profile including their subject tests, extracurriculars and awards. Thus, if you think you will succeed in a lower lane, feel free to drop down. Not only will you learn at a slower pace but you will have more free time to enjoy yourself and try extracurriculars.
The bottom line is that you should not feel pressured into staying in one lane or another. You should do what you feel is most beneficial for you whether it be challenging yourself in a high lane or learning at your own pace in a lower lane. Both choices have their benefits and doing what you feel best represents yourself is ultimately the best choice.