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Will dropping AP English Lang senior year affect top college admission chances?

cloudslicercloudslicer 37 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
Hi CC,

I'm a senior and aiming for top schools (HYPMS). I'm planning to enter as STEM, and I have the option of taking regular English or AP Lang. At my school, we first take AP Lit in 11th grade and then AP Lang 12th, so it's kind of going down a level. I already did AP Lit last year, so will dropping AP Lang affect my chances of admission into those schools? The reason why I'm considering dropping is because it takes a lot of time for HW and most of it is busywork.

Thanks
19 replies
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Replies to: Will dropping AP English Lang senior year affect top college admission chances?

  • skieuropeskieurope 38926 replies6879 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    It depends upon the rest of your schedule. If the balance is rigorous, it's unlikely one class may make a difference. That said, an AP in a core subject will be more advantageous than an AP elective.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29255 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Yes, it could.
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  • cloudslicercloudslicer 37 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited August 18
    Thank you for your replies. The course that I'm considering is Sci-Fi, which is somewhat related to my intended major (STEM), so would that show passion for the sciences?
    @skieurope I'm currently in AP Spanish, AP Economics, AP US Gov, AP Physics. Does that affect whether I should drop AP English Lang?
    edited August 18
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  • skieuropeskieurope 38926 replies6879 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    @skieurope I'm currently in AP Spanish, AP Economics, AP US Gov, AP Physics. Does that affect whether I should drop AP English Lang?
    Solely my opinion, but I think there is more validity in dropping AP Lang where there are thematic options like Modern Drama or Shakespeare's Tragedies or African-American Lit or Science Fiction versus English 12 Reg (or H). With 4 other solid APs, I don't see your plan as being problematic.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2378 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 18
    I think it could be problematic, if I may disagree with the moderator! First off, what math are you taking senior year, assuming you took AP Calc as a junior. Second, science fiction is going to be seen as not challenging yourself when AP Lang or even college prep English were available, if you're looking to replace AP Lang with sci-fi. If your reading list includes Fahrenheit 451, ok but adocms will assume it's going top be a whole bunch of Star Trek books and not rigorous unless they dig into the course descriptions which I'm not sure they're going to do. I'm not a fan of loading up on APs, unless it's a core one, which this is. However if it's too much work, then I'd recommend the c/p English class.
    edited August 18
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7001 replies50 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think it depends what you are making room for in your schedule. Where is your math class?

    My D dropped down to British Lit in 12th grade so she could take AP chem and AP Physics C (both mech and E&M). She wasn't aiming for HYPMS though. Her other courses were AP Calc (her school only offered AB), DE Gov/Econ (no AP option), H CS/H organic chem (no AP CS option), and her mandatory theology course.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 38926 replies6879 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited August 19
    Where is your math class?
    I believe the OP was just listing APs. On another thread, s/he indicates a DE MVC class.
    I think it could be problematic, if I may disagree with the moderator!
    Of course you can. But we'll need to agree to disagree. Again, courseload is but one part of the package. Now, I often say that the plural of anecdote is not data, but as a data point of one (2 counting @momofsenior1 ) I'll tell you that I took Graphic Novels as an English class. Yup, we read (and wrote and drew) comic books. :) I did quite well in the admissions process; it's all in context.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that, IMO, some users here (and on similar sites) have an unrealistic sense of what an AO is going to accomplish is the 10 minutes or so that s/he reads an application. If the GC has marked the schedule as "most demanding" (and @cloudslicer should confirm that the schedule would be), there are very few AOs that will be swinging a thurible over an application waiting for divine guidance to suggest that an applicant would have been better served switching AP Gov to honors in order to take AP Lang. I further believe that AOs, at least consciously, are not reading apps looking for reasons to reject the applicant.

    That said, if the GC has concerns over the schedule, then the OP would do well to listen since any concerns could impact a rec, which would negatively impact an app. Also, I would not count on any AO going "Oooooh. Science Fiction. What a great way to tie in English and STEM." So don't choose the class for that reason.
    edited August 19
    Post edited by skieurope on
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  • cloudslicercloudslicer 37 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited August 18
    Yes, @skieurope is correct; I took AP Calculus BC last year and did Statistics at a community college (there are no more available math classes at my HS), so I'm enrolled in MVC at a community college. Another thing to consider is that I did get a 5 on the AP Lit exam, so I'm not sure if taking AP English Language will be considered a notch up from last year. In terms of courseload, I asked someone from my school who took AP English Language last year, and they said there was a lot of homework in 1st semester only, which would affect my college essays. I can probably handle it ok since the rest of my classes are relatively easy. For the actual content of Sci-Fi, the class is reading 1 book for the year and there is a packet of short stories that they read for each unit. There is about 1 essay per quarter. It's definitely harder than other English classes like British Literature since the Sci-Fi teacher also teaches AP Lit, but I don't think colleges will actually look into that. Since I'm planning to go to the UC's as a backup for HPMS and Caltech, I'm really only concerned with the latter schools. I'm pretty sure I can get into the UC's if I take sci-fi. I'm also part of an overrepresented ethnic group and pretty much everyone else with similar stats is taking AP English Lang. I thought maybe sci-fi could show uniqueness? If this is relevant, my full schedule is:
    1. AP Physics C
    2. AP Spanish
    3. AP Macro/Micro Econ (each is a semester long, so together it's a full year class)
    4. AP US Gov
    5. Science Fiction and Fantasy Lit/AP English Language
    6. TA first semester, Power Walking 2nd semester (for graduation credits)
    7. MVC at community college
    edited August 18
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  • FrmrPtonAO91FrmrPtonAO91 2 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    As a former Ivy admission professional, I always say that math and English are the "meat and potatoes" in the curriculum. Often, if not usually, literature majors at the HYPS level schools take Calculus, and STEM majors make 5's on the AP English exam. If you are looking at that level of school, I would recommend continuing with the AP level English language unless you cannot be successful in it (defined as making an A.) Compared to the rest of the seniors at your high school, does this look like a lighter curriculum? Have you taken AP Euro? I can say that Sci Fi will not be considered as "unique and interesting" -- just a typical "out" for someone who doesn't want to take the more rigorous path in English.
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  • cloudslicercloudslicer 37 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I took AP Euro in 10th grade. I'm pretty sure (80%) I can get an A in the class, but from what I've heard it is a lot of busywork. Will HYPMS care that much about AP English, if I am taking the most rigorous route in STEM (completed AP Bio, AP Chem already and our school only allows us to do 1 science course per year). At my school, there are a lot of people who take all possible AP courses and have high GPAs, yet only a few get into HYPMS (0 for H, 5 for M, 2 for S, 1 for P (data from 2019)). However, around 80 people are accepted into UC Berkeley every year. I feel like even if I take AP English, my chances getting into top schools are low, so will not taking it make that significant of a difference? I'm trying to get away from the stereotype of a kid who tries hard in school by taking all available AP courses since I heard these types of colleges want unique people who stand out. But I'm also not sure if this is just a fallacy.
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  • HalfMoon22HalfMoon22 49 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My D is at a T20 school and never took an AP English class even though several were offered at her school. She did take two honors English classes and 10 other APs. Not once did anyway along the way question why she never took an AP English class.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5616 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think there is enough rigor in your schedule to skip AP Lang. The sci fi class sounds to me like a great way to have fun with the serious side of science, and that shows me (at least) that you are interested in thinking across disciplines.

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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77784 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I took AP Euro in 10th grade. I'm pretty sure (80%) I can get an A in the class, but from what I've heard it is a lot of busywork. Will HYPMS care that much about AP English, if I am taking the most rigorous route in STEM (completed AP Bio, AP Chem already and our school only allows us to do 1 science course per year). At my school, there are a lot of people who take all possible AP courses and have high GPAs, yet only a few get into HYPMS (0 for H, 5 for M, 2 for S, 1 for P (data from 2019)).

    For those private schools, will your choice of courses affect whether your counselor marks that you chose the "most demanding" schedule?

    Reading only one book for the whole year does not make the particular English course look rigorous.
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  • cloudslicercloudslicer 37 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @ucbalumnus I've taken 7 AP classes (not including this year). I think it should be in most demanding.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77784 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Ask your counselor instead of assuming.
    For the actual content of Sci-Fi, the class is reading 1 book for the year and there is a packet of short stories that they read for each unit. There is about 1 essay per quarter. It's definitely harder than other English classes like British Literature since the Sci-Fi teacher also teaches AP Lit, but I don't think colleges will actually look into that.

    One book over the whole year does not make it seem like a rigorous English course for college-prep students, particularly those aiming for the most selective colleges.

    That the same teacher also teaches AP English literature does not necessarily mean that this course is similarly difficult, since teachers adjust their course difficulty to the student population (i.e. s/he will teach a non-honors/AP English course at a lower level of difficulty than an honors/AP English course).
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  • cloudslicercloudslicer 37 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    For comparison, the AP Lang class reads 2 books and some other philosophical pieces.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2378 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    this is a real tough one, I admit. I went on Yale's website since HYPSM was mentioned and it's pretty clear to take the AP class or at least the college/prep, non-honors version. They lead with this:

    "Are you choosing a particular course because you are truly excited about it and the challenge it presents, or are you also motivated by a desire to avoid a different academic subject?"
    "We encourage you to pursue your intellectual interests, so long as it is not at the expense of your program’s overall rigor or your preparedness for college"
    "Do I feel challenged by the courses that I am taking?
    Are my courses among the more rigorous ones available to me at my school?
    Am I seeking challenge or avoiding it?"

    I think taking sci-fi would signal avoiding a challenge.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77784 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    For comparison, the AP Lang class reads 2 books and some other philosophical pieces.

    Unless those "other philosophical pieces" are significant size, that seems like a very light amount of reading for an AP English course. I remember 9th grade regular English reading more than two books.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33596 replies369 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    No one aiming so high should be asking if a tippy top "cares." Of course they do. You're competing with thousands of others who don't leave this to, " it takes a lot of HW..." Or that it's busy work. Or wonder if sci fi shows "passion" for stem.

    Nor does a tippy top lean back and decide based solely on whether the GC "says" the schedule was "Most Demanding." Adcoms look at the transcript and see for themselves. Nor do they assume your education is rightly rigorously rounded because you got a 5 score in an English AP last year. The reasoning seems off.

    The 12th sched doesn't look so arduous that you can indulge in Sci Fi. That may work for kids who already had/have AP lang. Not with TA and power walking, not without knowing if you fulfilled everything else and otherwise present as one of the most compelling, including ECs and thinking.
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