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Art or STEM Elective for a future Science/Engineering Major

ls22njls22nj 2 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
Hello...
So I'm currently an incoming sophomore in high school reevaluating my schedule for next year as well as my 4 year HS plan (Our high school has a 2 week window before school starts in September for students to change any courses, course levels etc).

Specifically, I am stuck between keeping my current Drawing/Painting elective as compared to a more STEM oriented elective (Intro to Computer Science). As a freshman, I took our schools beginner level Art Foundations class as I have taken art classes outside of school from a pretty young age, and was urged by my art teacher to continue in school. I enjoy art, and have won a number of regional awards and publications (National Scholastic and Celebrating Art). However, I am also extremely interested in science and engineering, and want to major in a STEM field in the future (Currently looking at Environmental Science or Environmental Engineering).
Considering I take art as a sophomore, it is likely that I will continue for all 4 years of high school up to AP Studio Art as a senior. On the other hand, if I were to switch to CS for sophomore year, I would likely take the intro class as a sophomore, AP CS A as a junior, and have room for another elective/class as a senior.

I know many people will probably say to just choose whichever elective you enjoy more, follow your passion etc., however, from the standpoint of an college admissions officer, would it be better to see a prospective STEM major pursue STEM in high school, or explore other interests? Also, not many students at our school take AP Studio Art, so would having AP art in my schedule in addition to my previous art awards give me an edge as compared to other STEM applicants?

As a side note, I am currently scheduled to take the following classes as a sophomore: English II Honors, Pre-Calc Honors, Chem Honors, American Studies I Honors, Chinese 4 Honors, and Art/Intro to CS (Both options are weighted as reg. level classes) I also took 4 honors classes as a freshman, and have a 4.0 UW and 4.65 W GPA
I am looking to attend a top 20 college for science/engineering in the future.
12 replies
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Replies to: Art or STEM Elective for a future Science/Engineering Major

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6989 replies49 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    STEM majors need bio, chem, physics, and one of those being AP, and getting to calculus if it's offered. You don't need to specialize in STEM in HS. Take the art class - you seem to love it.
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  • NCKrisNCKris 209 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    You should take the Art elective since you seem to enjoy and appear to be good at it, so continue with your Art.
    For engineering, it is more important to complete Calc BC (and beyond if offered) and take AP Physics or Chem (or both).
    Intro to CS (reg class) does not add much value, unless you are genuinely interested in learning CS.
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  • ls22njls22nj 2 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thank you so much for your imput! I am planning on taking 4 AP classes junior year (Lang, Bio, Calc AB and USH) along with Physics Honors any my elective class. I also plan on taking another 4-5 APs senior year (Probably Calc BC, Chem, Lit, and a couple others).
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77733 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If your high school offers AP CS principles, that may be a worthwhile course to see if you are interested in CS, or to see how CS relates to other subjects. If that is the case, you may want to see if you can fit it in somewhere without dropping art or other core academic courses.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77733 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    NCKris wrote: »
    For engineering, it is more important to complete Calc BC (and beyond if offered)

    For engineering majors at most colleges, the minimum preparation in math is precalculus. However, a student who completes precalculus in 11th grade or earlier should take calculus if available.

    A high calculus AB score would allow the student to start in calculus 2 at most colleges, while a high calculus BC score would allow the student to start in calculus 3 at many colleges. This can increase schedule flexibility in college.

    Note that forum conventional wisdom is to unconditionally repeat all of your AP credit in college. I do not agree, but I would recommend that students with AP credit who intend to take more advanced courses try the old final exams of the courses that can be skipped in order to make a more informed placement decision.
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  • ls22njls22nj 2 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thank you so much to everyone for your imput! In case anyone has any other thoughts, these were my initial questions:

    1) From the standpoint of an college admissions officer, would it be better to see a prospective STEM major pursue STEM in high school, or explore other interests?

    2) Also, not many students at our school take AP Studio Art, so would having AP art in my schedule in addition to my previous art awards give me an edge as compared to other STEM applicants?
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  • skieuropeskieurope 38872 replies6864 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited August 17
    For engineering, it is more important to complete Calc BC (and beyond if offered)
    The grand total of US colleges that expect BC calculus, even for a potential engineering major, is zero, although some would wonder why an applicant did not take BC if available. But every single college in the country offers Calc 2 for STEM majors. Regardless, it's moot in this case since the OP has said that s/he will complete BC.
    Note that forum conventional wisdom is to unconditionally repeat all of your AP credit in college.
    @ucbalumnus This is a statement that you make often, and it simply is not the case. Some users think that, but it is certainly not all or enough to call it "conventional wisdom." I'm in agreement with you, though. There are some subjects, of which calc is one IMO, that I see no valid reason to retake in college if the individual feels prepared for the next level.

    For the OP:
    From the standpoint of an college admissions officer, would it be better to see a prospective STEM major pursue STEM in high school, or explore other interests?
    The AO is not looking for specialists in HS. They are not expecting STEM applicants to take STEM classes unrelated to their prospective field simply because they are STEM.
    Also, not many students at our school take AP Studio Art, so would having AP art in my schedule in addition to my previous art awards give me an edge as compared to other STEM applicants?
    The awards, and potentially an art supplement, may add a distinguishing aspect to your application. The simple act of having AP Studio Art on your transcript in place of another equally challenging class will neither make an AO swoon with desire nor make him throw your application in the trash. It's neutral.

    Now if you want, you likely can fit both art and CS into your remaining 3 years, although in so doing you probably would not be able to fit in every art and CS course. And that's OK. So yes, take what interests you. Do not take just because you think an AO wants to see, because they truly will not care what electives you take if they do not impact overall rigor.

    FWIW, an interest in the arts and STEM is not that unusual, although it is more often STEM and music as opposed to visual arts and STEM. Many of my STEM classmates had an interest in music,and math/music has more similarities than a casual observer may think.
    edited August 17
    Post edited by skieurope on
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 3953 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Just a different view point
    Most engineering programs I know of have been combining the arts and engineering. Look up Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon and Michigan to name a few. Lots engineering students are musicians. At Michigan 1/3 of the Marching band are engineering students. At Michigan they even have the art, theater, design, musicians on North campus with all the engineering students. It's done very much on purpose. So if you have an art background and it sounds like you have a good one, think of that as a slight advantage. Also try to balance your classes. Try to get some CS classes in if it interests you. My son took a year of Java as a freshman then decided he didn't like coding that much so dropped out of the cs track at his school. He didn't have to much problems getting accepted into engineering. He did have other stuff for engineering.
    Hope this makes sense to you.
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1351 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    You should take what interests you. Winning National scholastic art awards is a great feat. Taking the best courses available for your level where you can excel is the goal. Very few schools are even going to offer AP Art or AP engineering/CS courses ( Or even BC Calc). There will be many students who come from various backgrounds and all can expect to do well in college even if their school had zero AP courses. Being uni-dimensional certainly isn't going to get you to stand out. But some students love a particular field and can demonstrate that thru their coursework and outside activities.
    No one ever knows what path will be the one that gets them into a particular school and that shouldn't be the goal in high school. Learning to explore your interests and passions is very important.
    There are many excellent high schools that don't offer AP courses intentionally and I personally believe they will eventually be replaced with something else.

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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41754 replies450 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Art recognition and 4 years of art would definitely be something worthwhile. Stem is often linked to STEAM now, where A= art.
    Look at all the CS+X programs, too
    You could see if you can fit CS Principles somewhere but it'd be neutral for admissions.
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  • oneapptoomanyoneapptoomany 16 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Definitely choose something you like to do
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  • bopperbopper 14012 replies100 threadsForum Champion CWRU Forum Champion
    For STEM, make sure to take Math up to Calc 1 and Bio/Chem/Physics and then a AP science. A CS class would be good.
    But other than that, take electives you enjoy!
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