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College statements on the importance of grades and coursework

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The primary criterion for admission to Stanford is academic excellence. We look for your preparation and potential to succeed. We expect you to challenge yourself throughout high school and to do very well. The most important credential that enables us to evaluate your academic record is the high school transcript. — Stanford University

We expect freshman applicants have engaged in a rigorous curriculum and chosen from among the most demanding courses available in secondary school. It is not necessary to have loaded your schedule with every advanced course offered; but if such courses are available to you, we expect you have taken advantage of many of them. Our most competitive freshman applicants often have four years (grades 9-12) of English, four years of math (including calculus), four years of social studies, four years of science (including biology, chemistry and physics) and four years of a foreign language. —  [http://www.stanford.edu/dept/uga/basics/selection/evaluate.html Stanford University

Yale is above all an academic institution. This means academic strength is our first consideration in evaluating any candidate. The single most important document in your application is your high school transcript, which tells us a great deal about your academic drive and performance over time. We look for students who have consistently taken a broad range of challenging courses in high school and done well. — Yale University