There's often a difference between having a high GPA and being a real learner.
After a workshop at a high school last spring, a student asked me if he should write an essay explaining why he hadn't taken harder classes. His explanation was that his high school "wouldn't let him" for a variety of reasons. After he gave me a little more information, I told him the truth–I didn't think it was a good idea. It would only draw more attention to something he wasn't proud of. And it would sound like he was making excuses.
Colleges believe that the true learners always find a way to learn what interests them. If a class isn't offered at their high school, they'll find another way to get the information because they want to know it, like this kid…
Our counselor Allison received the following email today from one of her students (shared with the student's permission):
Subject: Registration is evil
So, I had to drop AP Statistics. Did I want to? No. I'm actually really frustrated about it because that is the class that I was most looking foreword to taking. But it conflicts with dance and AP English. I emailed the stats teacher to see if there was any way I could take the class as an independent study, which would be perfect if he says yes. If he says no, I already checked all the math classes at my local community college, but they're are full (and they all started today for fall semester). I guess I could take it next spring if worst comes to worst. I wish the high school scheduling didn't keep me from learning what I want to learn.
She's not writing that because we prompted her or told her that colleges like students who enjoy learning. I also appreciated that she's not asking, "Will Stanford still accept me without AP stats?" It's not about that for her. She wants to learn statistics. She was excited about it. And when she found out her school wouldn't let her take it, she didn't give up. She started taking action to find a way to learn it. That's what a true learner does.