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Senior Year: Focus on Applications or Go For Intense Courseload

genes79genes79 Posts: 57Registered User Junior Member
edited May 2012 in College Admissions
Hi everyone, my senior year is coming up and I plan to apply some top schools like MIT, Penn, etc. My academics are pretty strong, but I want to know if I should load up on a greater number of AP courses, or should I focus on my Applications? Or should I go for both? Thanks for any advice!
Post edited by genes79 on

Replies to: Senior Year: Focus on Applications or Go For Intense Courseload

  • stradmomstradmom Posts: 3,543Registered User Senior Member
    How long do you think applications take?

    As everyone has been telling you, "Take the most rigorous courseload offered at your school.

    You can get started on your essays over the summer, if time constraints are a concern.
  • SeahorsesrockSeahorsesrock Posts: 1,638Registered User Member
    Egad

    Over summer write your brag sheet, your resume, research schools etc,

    Applictions aren't hard, essays may take time, but seriously?
  • SikorskySikorsky Posts: 5,851Registered User Senior Member
    Let's put it this way: if you're applying to those universities, your competition will be doing just what stradmom and Seahorsesrock have described.
  • rspencerspence Posts: 2,118Registered User Senior Member
    MIT does care about your senior year courses/grades (I know b/c I'll be going there next year)...I'm sure the other schools you're applying to do that too.

    That said, you'll probably want to focus on your coursework and not get senioritis. In terms of applications, you might want to start planning them throughout the summer (e.g. list awards, achievements, outline essays) so then the actual application process will take shorter.
  • WaverlyWaverly Posts: 2,669Registered User Senior Member
    Post 5 is utterly untrue.
  • SikorskySikorsky Posts: 5,851Registered User Senior Member
    Waverly, which part?

    Are you saying MIT and its peers don't care about applicants' senior-year courses and grades?

    Or that it's OK for the OP to get senioritis?

    Or that starting on applications over the summer isn't a good idea?

    Is it possible you misread post #5?
  • genes79genes79 Posts: 57Registered User Junior Member
    Just to clarify, I will be taking 5 AP Classes my senior year and dual enroll for two classes at a local college. By making my schedule more intense, I was thinking of adding one or two more AP classes to my schedule (FLVS). So, is my schedule with 5 APs and 2 college classes "intense" enough? (Btw, MIT is my first choice)
  • wmurphy126wmurphy126 Posts: 340Registered User Member
    Why can't you do both?

    I, and a few people I know, finished most of all the "hard" application stuff before senior year. LOR acquired, SAT/ACT taken, essays written, proofread, rewritten and by the time August/Fall of our senior year came we had everything finished and submitted.
  • smwhtslghtlydzedsmwhtslghtlydzed Posts: 1,555Registered User Senior Member
    It sounds like your schedule is rigorous enough. For senior year, colleges seem to mainly care about your not slacking off (though 1st semester senior grades can matter a lot, especially if you're borderline) rather than looking to that year for the absolute most rigorous schedule possible. When planning your schedule, you need to find a balance between slacking and putting yourself through too much stress, finding something that will challenge you but not lead to mental breakdowns when it becomes too much on top of college applications.

    Unlike many people on this board, I would suggest going kind of light on your senior year schedule, though obviously not too much. Take as many AP courses as you think you can handle, but make sure you're leaving yourself time to deal with college. Even if you finish a lot of your applications over the summer, the admissions process can be time consuming for other reasons, whether that be the stress of waiting for admissions news (when I was waiting for my Georgetown EA decision I basically spent an entire weekend watching Grey's Anatomy, eating chocolate, and talking to other stressed seniors on CC) or the ultimate decision of where you want to spend the next four years of your life.

    Just remember that you'll have a lot going on senior year besides your course load (college applications, the college admissions process, the college decision, plus senior events and coming to terms with leaving high school behind), so keep that in mind when you choose your classes. Everyone is super busy and stressed senior year, so try to find a balance that will show your work ethic while still giving yourself time to breathe.
  • RedSevenRedSeven Posts: 1,665Registered User Senior Member
    Even if you don't start at all on your applications over the summer, you should be able to manage both your applications and a rigorous courseload. If you can't do both at the same time, I can't see how you're going to succeed in college.
    For senior year, colleges seem to mainly care about your not slacking off (though 1st semester senior grades can matter a lot, especially if you're borderline) rather than looking to that year for the absolute most rigorous schedule possible

    No. The competition will be taking a rigorous schedule. Your average state school will be looking for not slacking off. Competitive schools are looking for much more (virtually everyone applying is doing more than just coasting along right above the cutoff for slacking off). Shoot for rigorous, not barely acceptable.
    So, is my schedule with 5 APs and 2 college classes "intense" enough? (Btw, MIT is my first choice)

    How can you even have room for more than that? How many classes can you take at a time? That's already more than can possibly be fit into a schedule at many schools...

    Don't go overboard. Rigorous doesn't mean working yourself to death.
  • smwhtslghtlydzedsmwhtslghtlydzed Posts: 1,555Registered User Senior Member
    No. The competition will be taking a rigorous schedule. Your average state school will be looking for not slacking off. Competitive schools are looking for much more (virtually everyone applying is doing more than just coasting along right above the cutoff for slacking off). Shoot for rigorous, not barely acceptable.
    Maybe I should have been more clear; I was talking about 'slacking off' in terms of what a competitive school looks for. I meant not slacking off in comparison to what someone had done the year before. Like if someone had taken 4 APs junior year, they shouldn't take only 1 because that would be slacking for a competitive school, but they shouldn't feel the need to take 7, because they probably just won't have the time for it.

    I only took 3 APs my senior year (pretty much the norm for the top students at my school, though some took 4 or 5) and I got into every school I applied to, including Georgetown, Swarthmore, and Claremont McKenna. I think I found a good balance with my schedule; many people slacked off and only took 3-4 classes, while many took it too far and took 5 APs and ended up being super stressed. People may have different opinions on this but I think my decision to take the middle road worked out well so I think it would be a good example to follow. I still got stressed out by the college process but it would have been much worse if I had pushed myself too hard.
  • RedSevenRedSeven Posts: 1,665Registered User Senior Member
    That makes more sense--I was thinking of "slacking off" in terms of Michigan State's advice to rising seniors, which is to make sure you take academic classes your senior year.

    Another thing for the OP to consider is what the competition from his/her own high school will be doing. I doubt many will be doing as much as or more than the OP, but if the competition is taking 7 APs, it might be a necessary sacrifice (unless, of course, taking 7 APs results in a grade dip--which, in combination with senioritis, it probably will). I came from a high school where the only option was the IB Diploma, which meant taking 6 IB courses senior year. Painful, but I survived. And still had plenty of room for senioritis.
  • craiggonzalescraiggonzales Posts: 126Registered User Junior Member
    MIT... Penn... Those are programs that will require a lot of work on your part. Why dont you take hard classes AND rock your apps?

    Craig
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