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Do I need to take a fourth year of science for competetive schools?


Replies to: Do I need to take a fourth year of science for competetive schools?

  • happy1happy1 Registered User Posts: 18,466 Senior Member
    As noted above, most competitive colleges like to see bio, chem and physics.
  • sherpasherpa Registered User Posts: 4,070 Senior Member
    Admission-wise, Physics on your transcript will serve you better than CS.
  • LoveTheBardLoveTheBard Registered User Posts: 1,424 Senior Member
    I think physics is your wisest choice. I just looked at Barnard's Common Data Set (this is something you'll want to do for the schools that you are interested in), and they recommend 3 lab sciences, which, of course, would be biology, chemistry, physics. AP Comp Sci is not a lab science (more often than not, it's counted as either a math or an elective class).

    Here's a link to Barnard's CDS:

  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 31,894 Senior Member
    You'll need physics honors or honors regular.
  • sarahxoxosarahxoxo Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Thank you so much for your input. Is AP physics more worth to take than the regular regents level?
  • happy1happy1 Registered User Posts: 18,466 Senior Member
    edited February 15
    Any physics is better than no physics. I'd talk to your science teacher and guidance counselor. Also if there is a conflict between AP Physics and two other APs you want to take (as mentioned in your first post) you can talk to the guidance counselor about taking regents physics and having him/her note the conflict between AP Psych and AP History (which are in your area of interest) and AP Physics in his/her college recommendation.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 31,894 Senior Member
    ^ I think this solution is the best for you!
  • ChartresBlueChartresBlue Registered User Posts: 120 Junior Member
    edited February 16
    As others have said, the most competitive colleges want their applicants to have the basic STEM classes (calc, physics, chem, bio). And yes, the most competitive colleges want their applicants to take a rigorous course load. Not having one of those 4 subjects can only hurt you. Replacing it with another science is just more of the same: it does not replace the lack of that basic subject.

    With that said, do you need to take all of those classes as APs, no (unless you are applying into a program at a particular school that requires an AP in a subject; such as AP Physics for many engineering programs). Should you try to take as many as you can? Yes. Will you be penalized for not taking a particular basic STEM class as an AP. No one can really say. It depends on the rigor of your course load otherwise. Fwiw, my son did not take AP Physics, but had one year of physics in HS. He took APs in the other STEMs (bio, chem, and calc through BC). He was accepted to some of the most competitive colleges. That's just one data point though.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,656 Senior Member
    My daughter is a Barnard grad and she really only had the bare minimum math and science courses required to graduate -- she was also not able to take physics as a lab science. But she had counterbalancing strengths in arts and foreign languages. In her case, following her passion was the better choice. :Though I would note that is also not a question she would have ever asked -- she was quite willing to take the risk of hurting potential college admission chances in order to do what she wanted.

    However, opting for classes based simply on preference is not the same as following a passion.

    I honestly don't think the choice is all that significant given the low rate of admissions to Barnard and peer schools. That's because unless you are applying as a prospective STEM major, the presence or absence of a 4th year of science on the transcript isn't going to be the decision point. College ad coms look for consistency on the high school transcript, so if you do have a passion and a story to tell, then it's more important that the transcript matches the story than having every box ticked off.

    So if you are planning to write your essays about your passion for histories and languages - and you have other activities or ECs that support that passion - then taking AP Euro might be the better option. But if you are going to focus on a desire to study neuroscience -- the AP Physics would be the way to go. So in choosing your courses for next year, think about how you want to present yourself to colleges.
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