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Easier AP's Senior Year to raise unweighted GPA?

JesseJuneJesseJune Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
My DS has always been ambitious in taking AP's- as a Junior he has taken 7 AP's (including 3 this year). He would like to take 4 AP's next year, and quite truthfully he's on the path to because he's on an AP tract where regular classes would actually hurt his GPA. He is a good student but does kind of just enough to get by... he's getting mostly B+ in his AP, with one A- . He loves the challenge of APs' and does not get stressed. However, he's getting penalized with his unweighted GPA's by challenging himself with his AP schedule. He's got a 4.2 weighted and a 3.4 unweighted.

What should we do going into Senior year? We were hoping to go early decision on most of the schools, and my son's school is on a quarterly semester plan. He would ideally like to take

AP Calc BC
AP Physics C (he wants to go into Engineering)
AP Stats or AP Envir Science
AP Lit (he has to due to requirements with his school)
.5 elective
Theology (required)

I am thinking maybe he should take "easier" AP's and try to boost his grade first semester...
AP Calc AB
AP Envir Science
AP Stats
AP Lit

What are your thoughts on this... will the colleges see he's taking "easier" AP's and could this backfire on us. Or perhaps doing extremely well first semester- will it help his unweighted GPA?

Thank you so much for reading all of this, I appreciate other feedback, experiences.....


Replies to: Easier AP's Senior Year to raise unweighted GPA?

  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 40,969 Super Moderator
    edited February 18
    We were hoping to go early decision on most of the schools
    You can only go ED to one school. But what are his current target schools? And if he is just doing "enough to get by," why is an option not to just put in more effort?

    For engineering, physics is more important that environmental science or stats. If he needs stats for his major, he'll need calc-based stats, which AP Stats is not. Calc AB vs Calc BC will not make a difference for his target colleges, but AB will allow him a better (i.e. slower) pace. But that comes with the caveat that the following year in college, the pace picks up dramatically.
    Post edited by skieurope on
  • allyphoeallyphoe Registered User Posts: 2,119 Senior Member
    1) This is a he issue, not a we issue.

    2) He only gets one ED, and decisions will be back before first semester grades are in. Whatever his grades are at the end of this semester, that's what they are for ED.

    3) If he loves a challenge, why encourage him to take less challenge?

    4) If he habitually does just enough to get by, why do you anticipate he'd start doing more if the classes changed?

    5) Depending on what schools he's targeting, another year of language and/or social studies might improve his odds more than doubling up on math or science.
  • JesseJuneJesseJune Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Sorry- Early Action- not early decision, he's not doing any schools ED.
  • JesseJuneJesseJune Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Yes, its a HE issue. And its Early Action not ED. He just completed Spanish 4, the only language option is AP Spanish which he doesn't want to do. AP Government is an AP option for Soc Studies, maybe that's an option.

    He loves the challenge but its not helping his unweighted GPA, and at what point is the benefit of the challenge supersedes the actual number that they're requesting when he applies. Will they say, look he challenged himself that's why his unweighted is a 3.5 or will the write him off because of it. He's hoping for merit scholarships.
  • NCKrisNCKris Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    For EA/ED, junior year grades matter more than senior year.
    He still has time to pull up his grades in junior year, especially if he is only doing “enough to get by”. Why not put in more work now?
    He must take CalcBC if he wants to go into engineering. Many students would be more advanced than that.
    Also AP Physics C is one of the tougher classes, and needs Calculus background. Does his school offer Phy 1?
  • JesseJuneJesseJune Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    He's taken Physics 1- freshman year and really enjoyed it. He was/is looking forward to Physics C- but now he's concerned that he's taking on too much. So he was originally thinking BC and Physics C- . THank you for your feedback, they really want to see CalcBC for engineering- good to know. And you're right, he does have time to do more... which would be the best route.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,415 Senior Member
    Interest in engineering suggests that math and physics may be his favorite and best subjects, so if he wants to back off on the rigor, he may want to do so in other areas.
  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 Registered User Posts: 1,294 Senior Member
    If he wants to lighten his load, he could take a lower level English class. He will not be a competitive engineering candidate at a top 100 school if he doesn't take (and do well in) Physics C and Calculus BC. He might get into a school as an undeclared major, but the weed-out classes he would have to excel in to then get admitted to the engineering school (if it isn't already full with direct admits) likely won't be any easier than Physics C.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,415 Senior Member
    With a 3.4 GPA, he is unlikely to get into a super competitive college or engineering division where choosing calculus BC versus AB may matter.

    But if math and physics are his strongest and favorite high school subjects, backing off on the rigor elsewhere makes sense, especially since calculus and physics are more likely to be helpful in engineering than environmental science or statistics.
  • JesseJuneJesseJune Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    edited February 18
    Thank you all for your feedback! All the comments have given us a lot to think about, thank you and if there are any others comments/opinions or suggestions they'd be appreciated!!.

    ucbalumnus- he has a 4.2 GPA- because he pushed himself with AP's, I surely hope schools will appreciate that, vs only looking at his unweighted GPA.- not sure but he hopes.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,415 Senior Member
    Yes, but others he is competing with for admission with 4.0 unweighted GPA in the same courses with the same weighting will have 4.8 weighted GPA.
  • HPuck35HPuck35 Registered User Posts: 1,920 Senior Member
    Look at the common data sets for the colleges he is thinking of applying to. There is a matrix in that document of what the college thinks is important in selecting students for admission. Some schools will emphasize GPA, others strength (rigor) of schedule, still others will think both are important. From there he can make an informed decision.

    I would keep the rigor in the areas where he wants to study in college. And then get good grades in those classes.
  • SybyllaSybylla Registered User Posts: 3,009 Senior Member
    edited February 18
    Assume many competitive schools will be looking at his UW GPA. As per UCbalum, that 3.4 is going to exclude him from very competitive programs. Perhaps define what you call competitive, and how are his test scores? And are you looking for merit money? Again, look at the merit money guidelines, if they even look at WGPA. You might want to look at programs that are not competitive, but auto, if you need merit money.
  • lostaccountlostaccount Registered User Posts: 5,153 Senior Member
    He is going into senior year and He will be applying to colleges right? I have a visceral reaction to the gaming of GPA-better for Him to get an education.
  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 23,642 Forum Champion
    A few comments:
    --College admissions officers do pay attention to senior year course rigor. They will certainly understand that an "A" in APES is not the same as an A in AP Physics C etc.
    --Your S should want to prepare himself as best he can for college. If he wants engineering I'd take Calc BC and AP Physics.
    --If he typically does enough to get by how do you know he will excel at the "easier" AP courses -- he may do enough just to get by in those as well.
    --Admissions are determined before senior year GPA comes out.
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