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What Classes Should I Take My Senior Year?

brinazarskibrinazarski Posts: 254Registered User Junior Member
edited June 2012 in Harvard University
Okay, so, I want to get into Harvard. So far, I've taken:

3 years of Language
4 years of Social Studies
3 years of Art
3 and a half years of English
4 years of math
3 years of Science

For APs, I've already taken AP Eng Lang and AP US. I still need an English class to graduate, so I'm taking AP Eng Lit, for sure. Next year, I can POSSIBLY (I say possibly because they're getting rid of many classes in my school...) take

-AP Latin (would love to take- one of my favorite subjects.)
-AP World
-AP Eco
-AP Art History
-AP Studio Art
-College Now Psychology (not an AP, but would receive college credit)
-An extra art class (expected as an art major, but not required)
-Pre-Calc (I know, I said I had four years of math. I took half a year of SAT Math Prep, and another half year year of an extra Trig class to help me out with my current Trig class. Since it's an accelerated class, I was supposed to skip straight into Calculus (we're learning Pre-Calc this month.), but my guidance counselor said no. I can potentially get college credit for it.)
-AP AB Calc or AP Statistics (VERYVERYVERY UNLIKELY)
-AP Bio (double period)
-General electives for high school credit (Physics, art... Idk, something.)

Now, knowing how much I've taken, what would be best for me, in order, to take my Senior year? Without AP Bio, I can probably take 6 of these. With it, I can take 5 (since it's a double period.) Since I might not be recommended for all of these, or the class might be rid of or say something should come up, well, that's why I'm asking about general electives. I can also take one class at community college after school, if I end early enough.
Post edited by brinazarski on
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Replies to: What Classes Should I Take My Senior Year?

  • gibbygibby Posts: 6,418Registered User Senior Member
    My advice -- and I hope you will hear this from others, as well -- is to do what you love. You mentioned that you loved Latin, so do it! Likewise, with your other choices. There isn't a set formula of classes that will get you accepted to Harvard, or to any other selective college. Follow your passion, wherever it might take you.
  • brinazarskibrinazarski Posts: 254Registered User Junior Member
    See, the thing is, I'm worried that there might be some classes that look better than others. Let's say, for example, person A takes AP Studio Art, AP Latin, and AP World History. Meanwhile, person B takes AP Bio, AP Latin, and AP World History. Does one person look better than the other for taking a different class, or are they equal? There's also the fact that there's College Now Psych and Pre-Calc. Since they aren't APs, are they equal in the admissions eyes? And say I take tons of APs, but no math. Since math is my worst subject, will I look bad for skipping it my Senior year, even though I'd be taking on a thousand APs? I hear they look at what's offered to you, and what you took, so that's why I'm concerned :(

    Also, I want to do Pre-Med or something in college, but I'd rather not take AP Bio, and instead take Bio in college. The reason being is, the teacher here- actually, FROM Harvard- I've heard is INCREDIBLY mean. Get one question wrong on the test, but everything else right? ZERO. And she has favorites. And I'm also upset, because my math class was supposed to put me in Calculus next year, so it's as if I took a challenging course for nothing, so in a way I'd just rather not take math and deal with it when I get to college. Especially when certain APs might look better than Pre-Calc... but I don't know if that's really true.
  • SikorskySikorsky Posts: 5,851Registered User Senior Member
    I completely agree with gibby's advice.

    If you aren't tearing up the place in your current trig class, you should not take AP Calculus. Go ahead and take Precalculus, even though it isn't AP. The fact of the matter is, you seem to be an artsy and literary person, and not a scientific and technical one. Go ahead and be who you are. You should take math next year, though. Any selective college--not just Harvard--will want to see that you kept making progress, even if math has not been an area of relative strength for you.

    But the most important principle to consider is this (and you won't like my saying it): you should not plan your senior year just to please Harvard. If you apply to Harvard next year, the numbers will be against you overwhelmingly. In order to fill its entering class, Harvard College will admit just under 2000 applicants, from a pool of about 35,000. Many of those 2000 will be athletes, or children of alumni, or Emma Watson. (OK, she goes to Brown, but I imagine you get the point.) It is true that you could be one of the unhooked applicants who get admitted, but the probability is so small that it isn't worth turning yourself inside out just to try to be the person that you suppose Harvard might possibly want.

    My advice is, take the most demanding schedule that fits with the person that you are. Then apply to Harvard, and see what happens. But while you're applying to Harvard, be sure you apply to a good mix of matches and safeties, and a couple of other reaches if you like. Because the really good news is, there are scores of really good colleges and universities in this country that could change your life. If you keep pushing yourself and doing well, you'll probably end up at one of them.

    Finally, I feel compelled to say, this part troubles me:
    Also, I want to do Pre-Med or something in college, but I'd rather not take AP Bio, and instead take Bio in college. The reason being is, the teacher here- actually, FROM Harvard- I've heard is INCREDIBLY mean. Get one question wrong on the test, but everything else right? ZERO. And she has favorites. And I'm also upset, because my math class was supposed to put me in Calculus next year, so it's as if I took a challenging course for nothing, so in a way I'd just rather not take math and deal with it when I get to college. Especially when certain APs might look better than Pre-Calc... but I don't know if that's really true.

    The way you've worded it, this sounds like two different challenges that you're shying away from in your senior year. (Also exaggerating and showing little interest in learning for its own sake.) If you're applying to Harvard, these qualities are deadly. People who don't tackle a challenge head-on don't get into Harvard. And if by some accident they do, the other folks in their classes eat them for lunch.
  • gibbygibby Posts: 6,418Registered User Senior Member
    Every college treats -- and views -- AP's differently. At Harvard, unless you opt for advanced standing (graduating in three years instead of four) the only AP the matters is foreign language. Scoring a 5 on your Latin AP would exempt you from further language requirement at Harvard. See: Advanced Standing Advising Programs Office. But that's not true at other colleges; you have to check the websites of the colleges you are interested in to see how they treat and view AP's.

    In your example, if both student 'A' and 'B' score a 5 on all of their AP's, generally it's pretty much a wash, except maybe at Harvard, where they do not give credit for AP Studio Art. That might not be true at another college which places a higher value on AP Studio Art.
  • gibbygibby Posts: 6,418Registered User Senior Member
    I completely agree with Sikorsky. Although you say you want to be pre-med (which requires a goodly amount of math), you seem very 'arty' with 3 years of Art and now contemplating Studio Art. It seems Art is one of your passions -- in which case, I would take the course, if you love it!
  • brinazarskibrinazarski Posts: 254Registered User Junior Member
    @ Sikorsky: See, my current class is Trig AND Pre-Calc. We'll be learning Pre-Calc this entire month. Exciting. My transcript seems to show improvement in my grades. My math teacher looked at it and said "Well, you always seem to start off bad in each math class you've been in, but in the end, you do extremely well." Freshmen Year, Algebra 1, 1st Semester, 75. (Okay, I know I sound like a horrible student now LOL, but the rest of my transcript isn't too bad... just the math.) Second Semester, 86, I believe. Geometry, Semester 1, 84. Second Semester, 98. This math class, Semester 1: 72. (My side Trig class, I'm most likely getting a 100 in, if that counts at all) Semester 2: Unknown, but my average keeps going up, or seems to be. It's at a 77 right now, but I won't know the final grade till June.

    Harvard is my main goal, but I'd like to go to any Ivy league. Plus, if I'm rejected from Harvard (and everybody else), with such an intense schedule, there's got to be SOME college who would take me in, right? XD To me, it's worth it. My thing is it's better to try and fail then to never try at all.

    And trust me, I've tackled many challenges here. If it means anything, I was extremely shy and anti-social when I came to this school, I couldn't even participate in class, I couldn't make friends, and obviously there was no possible way I could do any form of public speaking. I was afraid to join clubs, but I joined them anyway at some point. I am now President of two clubs, I ran for school president, speaking in front of MANY people (my school is pretty large, about 3800 kids, though there were no seniors and 200 Juniors didn't get to vote, which was unfair.). I knew math was my weakness even after my 98 in Geometry, but I still went ahead and took this hard math course. And when I was offered to drop it for an easier one, I rejected the offer, still willing to try and do better in this class. I took Chem, even though almost all the teachers here are horrible, so that I may potentially get into AP Bio, though it's hard. So, I could take AP Bio, but I have other options that I may like better. I'm not afraid to tackle any challenge, I'd just rather not if I don't feel that I have to. If it's necessary, I'm all for it.

    @ gibby: Aww... really? Could it count as an elective credit, at least? Would they place any weight on it, even if they don't give credit? If we're speaking in terms of the challenging courses I WANT to take, one of them would probably be AP Studio Art. (and it is challenging... I'm in an art class that's like AP Studio Art, but you have to pay to get the college credit and not all colleges accept it, so I was like "heeeelllll no" :P) And assuming I'm doing the College Now Pre-Calc, and taking classes I like. Would it be okay to choose College Now Psychology over AP Blablablabla? Or is an AP still better?

    And I do like art, but I probably wouldn't major in it unless I had to. I like to draw, but for myself. I don't like art as a job. I tried it- I had to illustrate a book for a company during the summer, believe it or not, and I hated it, even though I like drawing! XD
  • gibbygibby Posts: 6,418Registered User Senior Member
    Generally, colleges like to see HS students with hard sciences (Bio, Chem, Physics), especially for pre-med students. Colleges look upon Psychology as a soft-science -- at least the variety that is taught in most high schools. I'm not familiar with College Now, so I can't directly comment on the program. You should ask your Guidance Counselor about that one.

    For many colleges, Art can be a hook -- whether you choose to major in Art or not once you've been accepted is irrelevant. You might want to look at the Common Application Arts Supplement: https://www.commonapp.org/commonapp/Docs/DownloadForms/2012/2012Art-Supplement_download.pdf
  • brinazarskibrinazarski Posts: 254Registered User Junior Member
    Hmm... I suppose it might be better to take AP Bio, then, or even Honors Physics if I can't get in? So in this case, a non AP might be better than an AP? Sorry if I'm being a pain here, but I have to tell my counselor soon! As for College Now, I'd basically be taking a college course for college credit in my school. That's all it is, just no AP test. I believe it's from CUNY.

    So, let's get an idea of what I could take.

    1. AP Latin
    2. AP Studio Art
    3. AP English
    4. AP Lunch ;)
    5. AP Bio
    6. AP Bio
    7. Pre-Calc
    8. PartGov/PartEco (required, probably would get Honors credit)
    9. Gym/Health

    That's four APs, and one non AP-but-still-college class. Say my counselor says no to Bio, I'd probably take another AP if possible, or Psych, with Physics. Yes?

    Also, my school offered accelerated graduation: as in, I could start college this fall (or next spring) if I wanted to. I decided against it because I didn't feel my transcript and extracurriculars were enough, plus I wanted to stay with my friends. Did I make the right choice, or would graduating a year early look better?
  • hpyscmhpyscm Posts: 899Registered User Member
    I just want to add that maybe you should apply to a good number of safety schools- Harvard is not as easy to get into as you might think.
  • brinazarskibrinazarski Posts: 254Registered User Junior Member
    @ hpyscm: Of course! I know that! My chances of Harvard are minimal, I'm well aware of that. I'm going to find colleges I have a good change of getting into- and even colleges I'm almost GUARANTEED to get into- don't worry! :) Harvard's just my first choice, heheh.
  • gibbygibby Posts: 6,418Registered User Senior Member
    At my son and daughter's school, AP Bio was supposedly the hardest AP there was. My daughter took it and did well, but it was a tremendous amount of work her senior year. My son opted for AP Physics his senior year and it seemed more manageable, but he loves math.
  • brinazarskibrinazarski Posts: 254Registered User Junior Member
    Yeah... they got rid of AP Physics at my school, but even if it was still around, I can't take it without having taken Honors Physics first :(
  • SikorskySikorsky Posts: 5,851Registered User Senior Member
    Harvard is my main goal, but I'd like to go to any Ivy league.

    OK, fine. But this makes me wonder whether you've really thought this through much. Columbia is a very different place from Dartmouth. They just happen to be in the same athletic league.

    Moreover, even if it's technically true that Brown's admit rate is higher than Harvard's, both of them are so insanely selective that the difference is meaningless.
    I just want to add that maybe you should apply to a good number of safety schools- Harvard is not as easy to get into as you might think.

    And I would add to this, a safety isn't a safety unless:

    1. you're quite sure you can be admitted, and
    2. you're quite sure your family can afford it, and
    3. you're reasonably sure you could be happy and successful there.

    Most important thing I have learned from my time on College Confidential: love thy safeties.
  • brinazarskibrinazarski Posts: 254Registered User Junior Member
    Columbia's kind of on the bottom of my list... I live in NYC, and I don't want to stay here.

    So, that schedule up there look okay?
  • DwightEisenhowerDwightEisenhower Posts: 1,704Registered User Senior Member
    APs don't matter because they're APs, they matter because they're usually rigorous. Without knowing what classes are or are not rigorous at your school, we can't really give advice except to say take what's most rigorous. If two classes are equally or similar in terms of rigor, take the one you think you'll enjoy more.
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