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Am I taking too many APs?

needtosucceed27needtosucceed27 Registered User Posts: 434 Member
I'm a sophomore in high school, and by the end of high school, I will have taken 13-14 AP classes.

Here's what I've done so far, and my plan for the following years.

(1) Freshman year: AP World History (4 on exam)
I struggled a little bit with my AP class because the teacher was extremely hard on us and typically treated us as if we were juniors, not freshmen. I got a B my first semester and an A my second semester. I got a 4 on the AP exam, but I knew I could've gotten a 5 since I only studied 1/5 of my AP prep book.

(2) This year: AP Computer Science Principles and AP European History
Both of my AP classes have been pretty easy. I almost never have homework in APCSP and self-teach almost all the material because my teacher doesn't teach. In AP Euro, my teacher hands out more homework than any other teacher every night. Despite the large workload, all of the assignments are easy to complete. This semester, I ended APCSP with a 96 and AP Euro with a 94 (was a 96 before the final).

(5) Junior year: (planning to take) AP Physics/Chem, AP Computer Science A, AP Lang, AP US History, and AP Chinese
I know this might seem a lot, but I know that I won't struggle with AP Chinese and AP Computer Science A. I'm Chinese, and even though my Chinese is choppy and hesitant, I will probably know at least 1/3 of the material. I'm taking Chinese III Honors this year, and I have around a 98% in that class with minimal effort. I got a 94% on the final without studying and only using 20 out of the 60 minutes given for the exam. In AP Computer Science A, Java is being taught. I already know a little web development, so Java should not be a problem for me. There also isn't any homework in that class if work is completed before class ends. I've heard that US History is more time-consuming than it is difficult. I've also heard that AP Physics/Chem are really difficult, but I'll take either class anyways and I'll study ahead over the summer if needed.

(5-6) Senior year: AP Physics/Chem, AP Psychology, AP Statistics, AP Calculus BC, and 1-2 more AP classes.
These are just classes that I'm interested in. I'm going to finish my essays during the summer and early fall to get college applications out of the way so that my grades won't suffer.

In total, I will be taking 13-14 AP classes.

I plan on getting into very selective colleges and will most likely major in something STEM-related.

Am I taking too many AP classes? I feel like my workload so far hasn't been that bad and I think that, if I start actually managing my time better (New Years resolution lol), I can definitely do well in all my junior classes too.

I also don't just pour all my time into academics. I'm in around 5 clubs and will probably earn leadership positions in around 2 of them by the end of this year. And no, I'm not just doing them for colleges. I'm an active participant in all of them (math team, computer science club, FBLA, competitive math/science/reading club, and more). I hope I can get on the state math team this year (I was on it last year). I think I can get to nationals for FBLA and maybe even place there. For that competitive STEM+English club, I hope I can make the state team. I'm planning on implementing programs that inspire and educate children in a certain field of study. This summer, I'll be attending at least one STEM summer program, and next year, I'll be doing a STEM internship at a nearby university (top 50 in US).

Any tips and advice are greatly appreciated!! :)

Replies to: Am I taking too many APs?

  • aoeuidhtnsaoeuidhtns Registered User Posts: 422 Member
    Depends -- what are your target schools? If you can keep up with the academic workload, then you'll be on track for very competitive schools. I did 12 APs myself along with a handful of extracurriculars, so it's definitely reasonable.
  • needtosucceed27needtosucceed27 Registered User Posts: 434 Member
    @aoeuidhtns Hmm, I haven't really thought of target schools. The reach schools I'd probably apply to would be schools like Yale, CMU, and JHU that are highly selective but not extremely elite. My parents make around 100k a year, so they probably can't afford to send me to one of those schools (I have a sibling and we live in a pricey area). I'm hoping I can get merit scholarships to those schools, or really really good scholarships to less selective schools.
  • sgopal2sgopal2 Registered User Posts: 3,240 Senior Member
    I would suggest that you lighten up on your load and spend more time on ECs. Sounds like you'll have good grades and test scores to be competitive for the top schools. In this case having a few more AP classes won't make or break you.

    Especially AP Chinese. Since you are of Chinese ancestry, the fact you are taking this class will be discounted against you. For most of the top schools as along as you take at least 5 'core' courses each year (English, math, science, language, social studies) with at least 6-8 APs level classes, you should be fine.
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 41,110 Super Moderator
    edited December 2017
    Since you are of Chinese ancestry, the fact you are taking this class will be discounted against you.
    No it won't; the OP is admittedly not fluent.

    Anyway, the OP needs to decide whether the academic/EC balance is right. 5 AP's may be fine, or it may be a struggle. Each student is different.
  • needtosucceed27needtosucceed27 Registered User Posts: 434 Member
    @sgopal2 Around how many APs should I be taking then? I still want to be a competitive applicant, and I think my extracurriculars, although they can be improved, are decent. I don't plan to go to Harvard or MIT; please look my ideal colleges in the reply above yours.

    @skieurope Thank you. I thought that it would be seen as a disadvantage to take Chinese as a Chinese person. Although I know some of the Chinese from when I was little (around 4, before I started to learn English) and when I attended Chinese school (grade 3-8), my Chinese is choppy. I am much better at understanding Chinese than speaking, reading, or writing it. Many other students in my Chinese class are native speakers who speak Chinese at home and struggle with learning English and grammar rules. I'm the exact opposite; my grammar is much better than the majority of people in my grade who have grown up learning English.

  • sgopal2sgopal2 Registered User Posts: 3,240 Senior Member
    I would take as many APs as you handle without feeling overloaded. Especially if you feel that your grades are dropping then by all means cut back.

    I tend to agree with you. Admissions committees don't have the time or resources to investigate how much Chinese you speak at home. The common app has a question on which language(s) you speak at home. If you put Chinese in this answer, they will simply assume that with a Chinese sounding surname, that you took the AP class for an easy A. Maintaining verbal fluency is often easier than reading/writing. If you really want to improve your Chinese, consider going to China for a summer. Unfortunately the level of competition within Chinese applicants is very high, so by taking AP Chinese I don't think this adds your application in anyway. You might be better of taking another language.
  • needtosucceed27needtosucceed27 Registered User Posts: 434 Member
    @sgopal2 Ok, I'll do that too. At my school, during the first two months of each school year, you can drop out of a class without it appearing on your record, so I might do that if classes are getting too difficult.

    I do not speak Chinese at home. I know it won't really add to my application, but next year I'll be taking AP Chinese so I can finish the language requirements at my school. It would be too late to take another language and wouldn't make sense to do so. Taking Chinese for three years (Chinese II Honors, III Honors, and AP) seems better than taking Spanish for two years (Spanish I Honors, II Honors). And it's not as if colleges will see that I've taken Chinese, assume that I already know Chinese because I am Chinese, and then reject me just because of that. I also am not taking Chinese simply because I think it is easy. Chinese is an important language to learn, and people who can speak, read, write, and understand it will have a leg up on other people who do not know it.
  • Wilson98Wilson98 Registered User Posts: 382 Member
    I would suggest not focusing so much on the number of APs as on the distribution, and how much they add to your record. As mentioned, you should have four years each of core classes in all five areas, with each area going as far as can reasonably be expected. As long as you are doing that, it doesn't really help much to have a fifth (and certainly not a sixth or seventh) AP class in a year. If you do take 5 AP's senior year, you might want to think about ones like AP Eng Lit, or a more core social science than Psych if one is available. But not everything has to be AP.

    Also, my daughter, who graduated last year, was in a similar financial situation to yours. The really top schools don't have merit scholarships. The tip-top schools like Yale would probably give you enough need-based aid to be affordable. The not-quite-as-top schools like JHU and CMU (or any top 40 school) might or might not, depending on the school and how much your parents are willing to pay. (As an aside, I'm not sure what you mean by "not extremely elite." Those schools are both very selective and in some sense elite.)

    In any case, you should definitely look for match schools at some point, and also apply to the top public school in your state.

  • needtosucceed27needtosucceed27 Registered User Posts: 434 Member
    @Wilson98 Thanks for the advice! Could you recommend any schools that have good financial aid or merit scholarships?
  • sgopal2sgopal2 Registered User Posts: 3,240 Senior Member
    You make a persuasive argument on why taking Chinese is a good idea. I agree, this makes sense.

    Schools with merit scholarships
    UChicago (I think they have only a couple per year though)
  • bopperbopper Forum Champion CWRU Posts: 12,786 Forum Champion
    Re: AP World History ...remember, this is supposed to be the equivalent to a college class. Your teacher should be treating you like this is a college class...not freshman history. That is why many people don't take APs as Freshman/Sophomores. You did well.
  • amNotarobotamNotarobot Registered User Posts: 266 Junior Member
    "The reach schools I'd probably apply to would be schools like Yale, CMU, and JHU that are highly selective but not extremely elite."
    Yale, CMU and JHU are all top 25 schools. They are among the extremely elite. I am worry about that you will put them as your safeties and end up disappointed yourself.

    Also, I totally agree with @sgopal2 that having Chinese as a foreign language is an disadvantage to you because the schools you applies will compare you with other Chinese American applicants who likely can speak Chinese but also take other foreign languages for a few years in HS. The thing is not how many APs you take, how well you perform in your tests, or the ECs you participate, but how you are going to stand out from hundreds, if not thousands, of Chinese/Asian Americans who are also take 10+ APs, 1550+ SAT, 3.9+UW GPA, Tennis/STEM/Piano/Math Olympic... The similarities are there, and each school is going to take at most a few dozens, if not handful, of them. What you need to do is to convince the schools that you will apply that you are not why they already have/going to have with other applicants, and that will more likely come from your personal essay and recommendations.
  • mommyrocksmommyrocks Registered User Posts: 1,218 Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    My daughter took 15 AP courses at her public magnet school, and many of her classmates took 13-14. High schools typically weight the AP courses, so if you want to graduate in the top 5% of the class (or even higher), then taking a lot of AP courses makes a difference, assuming you are able to get As. My daughter (now a junior in college) also told me last night that the reason she took so many AP courses had nothing to do with impressing colleges. She took them because they were more fun for her. She described how bored and miserable she was in an on-level literature course she took in high school, and how much more she enjoyed the AP courses. So for her the main appeal was that the level of instruction was right for her, and I believe she also enjoyed the peers in the AP classes because they were the top students at her school. As long as you are making As and thriving in the AP classes, then you are not overdoing it. However, if you struggle to do well, or if you feel overwhelmed and are suffering burnout by all the extra work they require, or are missing a lot of sleep to complete assignments, then you should cut back on the number of AP courses and only focus on those relevant to your future college major and career plans.
  • needtosucceed27needtosucceed27 Registered User Posts: 434 Member
    @sgopal2 thank you!
  • needtosucceed27needtosucceed27 Registered User Posts: 434 Member
    @amNotarobot In one of my replies, I said that those would be my reach schools. I’m definitely not a risk taker so I would be applying to instate public universities and safeties just in case I don’t get into my top schools. I also mentioned those few schools off the top of my head. I’ll definitely be applying to those types of schools, but I’m also a sophomore right now, so I’m more focused on academics and extracurriculars, not colleges that I will be applying to. I will look into that my junior year.
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