WHY ENROLL IN AN AP COURSE?
Which AP classes are most appropriate?
As I write about often- college admissions officers want to know that students have takent the most challenging and relevant coursework. They also want to know why you selected your major. Your transcript is the most important predictor of your success as an undergraduate.
AP courses and exams, these provide an opportunity for students to learn more challenging and collegiate level concepts and demonstrate mastery of content. Successfully completing an AP course will provide you with the academic foundation for success in subsequent college level courses. You may even decide to repeat what you think is the same course once arriving on campus.
Regular readers of my blogs and newsletters know that I encourage every high school student to aim to find an appropriate and healthy balance between your academic and personal demands to avoid overextending and unnecessary (family) stress. High school should be joyful! Students take the lead in exploration of their own best practices on learning, time management and personal discover.
Should high students enroll in AP classes? Why?
Which AP courses should students complete?
If possible, absolutely take at least 1 to 3 courses during high school! The AP curriculum offers the most challenging courses available and completing a course will prepare students for the reality of the demands of the undergraduate academic experience ahead.
The Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum provides high school students an option to explore college-level classes across a variety of subjects including Science, History & Social Studies, Math & Computer Science, English, Foreign Language, Art and Music.
The content of material covered on end-of-year exams is taught in either a full academic year or a semester (i.e. AP Microeconomics, AP Macroeconomics, AP Physics C – Mechanics). The actual course content is uniform for all test takers throughout the US. Sadly, what’s inconsistent is the level of instruction – most high schools do a phenomenal job at instruction.
Not all AP Courses are offered in every high school. If there’s an exam that fits your longer-term academic interests that’s unavailable at your high school, there are many online and privately available sources of instruction for AP courses. Students can also engage in independent study and sit for an AP exam regardless of whether the course is offered at your high school or completed in any formal setting.
Beyond the high school graduation requirements in your state (20 to 24 credits), the classes you select serve some important roles:
- Courses, and in particular-your electives- can help each student explore, develop and deepen an academic interest.
- Core/required and elective courses allow students to better prepare for subsequent academic success. Sequencing is important as are appropriate challenges. For example, a foundation in math is essential for STEM fields and AP art can develop core skills and expand a portfolio.
- The high school transcript reveals a student’s ability to succeed as a undergraduate and has a direct impact on the likelihood of college admission. Avoid following the crowd! Admissions officers want to see that students engaged in self-discovery and one aspect of that process is completing the most challenging set of relevant coursework a student can comfortably manage.
Despite the best of intentions and the best time management, enrolling in too many AP classes can create hours of homework thus limiting time available for meaningful extracurricular activities (which are also essential for admissions success), needed sleep and family harmony (parent-child dynamics suffer when students are stressed and unnecessary homework completion “arguments” ensue).
For example, if your student is STEM focused, there is little admissions advantage gained taking AP History classes which have exceptionally large homework demands.
COLLEGE ADMISSIONS TIP:
Again, admissions representatives aren’t impressed by APUSH on a STEM applicant’s high school transcript. The flip side, humanities driven students might consider the importance of “big data”! All disciplines are now moving to analytics. So, while AP Physics isn’t necessarily your cup of tea, if you’re a pre-law, business or even an aspiring English major, consider AP Statistics, AP Psychology or AP Computer Science adding breadth to your file setting you apart from the typical humanities applicant.
College Admissions RECOMMENDATIONS – Which AP Courses to Take ?
Students of all majors should take AP English Language or AP Literature! Every student needs to continue to focus on the skills acquired in these courses. You may even place out of freshman English and can take a more interesting or advanced writing class as an undergraduate.
Recommended AP Biology, AP Chemistry
Optional: AP Calculus, AP Psychology, AP Statistics, AP Physics
Recommended: AP Chemistry, AP Physics (1 or C) AP Calculus, AP CS Principles and/or AP CS A
Optional: AP Statistics
Recommended: AP Calculus, AP Statistics, 1+ AP History classes, AP Macro Econ, AP Micro Econ
Optional AP Psychology, AP Foreign Language
Recommended AP History 2+, AP Psychology, AP Foreign Language
Optional AP Research, AP Psychology, AP Statistics
AP Art 2D/3D, AP Art History, AP Music
Optional: AP History, AP Psychology, AP Foreign Language
ASPIRING STEM STUDENTS
If the thought of taking an AP science or mathematics class in high school sounds ominous – you’re probably not an engineer or scientist- but I’m certain I can help you re-direct into a multi-disciplinary STEM-related field. But don’t stress, because no one has to define their life or field of interest at 16, 26 or even 36.