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FAQ: is it ok not to take ____ for highly selective colleges?

ucbalumnusucbalumnus 81216 replies729 threads Senior Member
edited February 6 in College Admissions
A frequently asked question here is "is it ok not to take ____ for highly selective colleges?"

For some values of ____ (and assuming availability of the course(s), so that not taking them is voluntary):

* Math in 12th grade (precalculus or calculus): NO in most cases. The possible exceptions are if you completed the highest available math by 11th grade, or if you completed calculus by 11th grade (although if you are in the latter category, you probably want to take more advanced math).

* Foreign language level 3/4/AP: NO, most highly selective colleges will see foreign language only to level 2 as academic weakness, and even level 3 may be less competitive when lots of applicants have level 4 or AP.

* Physics: NO, it is best to have all three of biology chemistry, and physics (they do not all have to be AP level); some highly selective colleges want to see an advanced fourth year of science.

* All 20 of the AP courses my high school offers: YES, colleges do not expect you to take every possible AP course at a high school that offers lots of them. However, a selection of AP courses across core subject areas (English, math, foreign language, science, social studies, art) can show a well rounded base of academic strength. (Obviously, substitute whatever the most rigorous options are if they are not AP.)
edited February 6
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Replies to: FAQ: is it ok not to take ____ for highly selective colleges?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 81216 replies729 threads Senior Member
    * AP or honors [whatever core subject] instead of regular: MAYBE, IT DEPENDS on the overall context of your course selection (both what you have already taken, and what you will take in the year that you are asking this question for), as well as how your counselor will consider it in your overall context (when answering questions about your course selection and academic strength). Asking this question in isolation often gives too little information for anyone here to give a useful answer.
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