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AP and other classes for possible pre-med

KycbkaKycbka 4 replies1 threads New Member
My kid wants to become a doctor and starting high school next year, now in the process of selecting classes.
I never attended high school or college in US and really confused with all the flexibility our school provides.
What and how many AP classes kid need to take to be qualified for a good pre-med later?
What good electives?
I am a little worried since she has a tendency of overloading herself and my priority to keep her healthy at this point.
I will really appreciate any insights here, thanks in advance
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Replies to: AP and other classes for possible pre-med

  • compmomcompmom 11119 replies78 threads Senior Member
    If your daughter is in 8th grade, she really doesn't have to worry about this yet. She can major in anything and still go to medical school. If prerequisites aren't done during college, there are post-baccalaureate programs that cover the prereq's for med school (Goucher is one example). There are indeed a few "pre-med" programs but most schools don't have them. I think she should take a course load that interests her and isn't too stressful. Extracurriculars are important too.

    Also, many kids want to be doctors or lawyers, because those are well-defined, known fields but many end up changing their minds. If they really want health care, there are also nursing and physician assistant programs, as well as fields like PT, OT and speech pathology.

    This is my personal view, but I truly believe that premature focus on career (or in this case even major) can pose problems and even impede opportunity, along with increasing stress.
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  • me29034me29034 1792 replies91 threads Senior Member
    There are no set high school course requirements in order to do premed in college. You child should take English, math, science, social studies, and a foreign language each year. The classes should be at the highest level that your child can handle and still get good grades. No APs are required though having AP Bio and AP Chem before getting to college will help get through those classes later on. As for electives - your child should take what is interesting. I always wanted my kids to have one fun elective, whether its music or art or cooking or whatever. Many colleges actually have a requirement of one year of art.

    Does your child need more APs? No, but more is helpful assuming your child can handle them. What each child can handle varies a lot. Its hard for strangers to advise you on what your child can handle. Also the typical number of APs varies greatly by high school. Some schools seem to really push them, other limit how many students can take. Many schools don't allow freshmen to take APs and some don't even allow sophomores to take them. It hard to give advice without knowing what is typical in your high school.

    As for the concept of a "good pre-med" - your child can be pre-med anywhere. It gets argued a lot on this forum, but many say that there is no advantage to going to a selective school for pre-med. Its harder to shine when everyone is really smart. Its easier to shine when you enter at the top of the class. Many recommend your local public as the best option since you will save money and going to med school is really expensive. But this is all far in your future and really more than you need to worry about right now.
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  • KycbkaKycbka 4 replies1 threads New Member
    I agree career choice ( she even picked what kind of doctor she wants to be ) is a bit premature.
    That being said - if she wants it I want to help her pick best courses now and not say spend time on more geography courses than needed..
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  • KycbkaKycbka 4 replies1 threads New Member
    me29034 wrote: »
    Many schools don't allow freshmen to take APs and some don't even allow sophomores to take them. It hard to give advice without knowing what is typical in your high school.

    .

    she can take 2 AP first year as I understand school course book .

    I wish I had a little better understanding how tough those courses are.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8691 replies82 threads Senior Member
    It's super hard for people outside the school district to tell you what would be considered appropriate and manageable rigor as it varies so much. Similarly for how tough the freshman AP courses are at your school. Is it possible for you to talk to the HS guidance counselor before course selection? You should be able to ask them what is typical schedule for students with your child's grades.

    In general for competitive colleges, they want 4 years of math, inclusive of calculus if offered, 4 years of english, 4 years of science (bio, chem, physics and at least one of those being AP), 3-4 years of history, 3-4 years of foreign language, 1 year of fine arts.

    The one thing to remember is that colleges do not want kids to be specializing in HS. A STEM kid still needs to have appropriate english and history rigor.
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  • KycbkaKycbka 4 replies1 threads New Member
    It's super hard for people outside the school district to tell you what would be considered appropriate and manageable rigor as it varies so much. Similarly for how tough the freshman AP courses are at your school.

    Thanks
    I thought it was universal ..like "4 AP" means "4 AP" in every school. How colleges can compare them if it not same thing?
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8691 replies82 threads Senior Member
    There are always harder teachers who have different work load and expectations, even within the AP program. My D went to a college prep HS. Her workload in her APs was twice that in our public HS because her teachers went well beyond the AP curriculum.

    Colleges are going to evaluate students in the context of their own school - what courses were available, where a student falls in the rankings (or decile if schools don't report), etc....

    That all said, there are certainly harder APs than others. AP Human Geography and Stats are examples of easier APs. AP chem and AP physics C, two of the hardest.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 40445 replies7507 threads Super Moderator
    edited January 15
    Kycbka wrote: »
    me29034 wrote: »
    Many schools don't allow freshmen to take APs and some don't even allow sophomores to take them. It hard to give advice without knowing what is typical in your high school.

    .

    she can take 2 AP first year as I understand school course book .

    I wish I had a little better understanding how tough those courses are.

    The 2 AP's that she can take as a freshman are likely very specific courses targeted for freshman, like AP Human Geography or AP World History.

    Which courses she should take is based, in part, on which are offered.
    edited January 15
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  • me29034me29034 1792 replies91 threads Senior Member
    I’m surprised that they aren’t giving you some sort of guidance on this. At my kids middle school they gave each child a sheet with course recommendations for each subject based on their academic performance so they had some idea what to sign up for in high school.
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  • NhatrangNhatrang 534 replies1 threads Member
    edited January 15
    Prepping for premed so she is well prepared to follow premed track in college is different from prepping to get accepted to colleges. I can answer the former.

    You have to work backward to determine what your kid can take as a HS freshman, depending on your daughter starting level and what the HS offers. But here is what my D19 completed by the time she finished HS:

    AP Chemistry, AP Cal BC, AP Physic, AP Bio, AP US History, AP Stats and AP English.

    She had other APs to but not relevant to Premed"

    If your daughter had those courses by the time she leaves HS, it will help preparing her for premed courses in college. My D19 just took General Chem and Linear Algebra and Differential equation as part of her premed track. She felt prepared and got excellent grades in those classes. She thinks she would not have been as comfortable without those AP courses in HS. This is not to say you can't handle premed courses in college without the AP courses, but it certainty helped my D.
    edited January 15
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  • KycbkaKycbka 4 replies1 threads New Member
    me29034 wrote: »
    I’m surprised that they aren’t giving you some sort of guidance on this. At my kids middle school they gave each child a sheet with course recommendations for each subject based on their academic performance so they had some idea what to sign up for in high school.

    was it middle school counselor or high school counselor reached out to you? At this moment I am not sure who would be counselor for her in high school and talk to a middle school counselor in the beginning of the year was quite disappointing "she is smart, she will figure it out". I know my daughter is smart but I don't think it's right to dump all decisions here on her.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8691 replies82 threads Senior Member
    Is there not a parent orientation for the HS before scheduling?
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  • melvin123melvin123 1626 replies22 threads Senior Member
    I want to comment on what @Nhatrang said as far as what their child found helpful.

    I think there are 2 points of debate as far as pre-med. 1 is as @me29034 said- whether it’s better to go to an easier college to graduate at the top of your class or go to a more rigorous college. 2 is whether it’s better to take intro classes in college, even though you’ve taken the AP for the class in HS. The reason for these concerns is that getting into med school is so competitive, with the average college GPA of accepted applicants being slightly more than a 3.7, and GPA is weighed more heavily than what college you went to.

    My D is pre-med. She did not take physics in HS. Most of the kids in her college intro physics class had taken AP physics in HS. She felt that those kids did have an advantage. But, she went to all the extra help sessions, and she earned an A even though she had been at a disadvantage. BTW, my D took AP Chem and AP Bio and AP Calc. She chose not to take the intro classes in college, and took the intermediate classes instead because she thought that would be more interesting, and for her that’s worked out.

    My point is to let you know that while taking these classes in HS can be helpful, not taking those AP classes in HS doesn’t preclude you from taking pre-med in college, and your ultimate college transcript might look the same as someone who took those AP classes in HS, or it might not. So, I’d really take the advice offered above to have your D take those classes in HS that are challenging to her, but not TOO challenging. There is more to HS than classes. You want to make sure she has enough free time to develop interesting ECs and continue to develop socially.
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  • me29034me29034 1792 replies91 threads Senior Member
    When I said the kids were given a sheet with recommendations I didn’t mean that they sat down with a guidance counselor. They literally were handed a piece of paper in home room that all the teachers had filled out. There was also a handout about high school scheduling to help parents understand it. There was no guidance counselor meeting.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80121 replies720 threads Senior Member
    melvin123 wrote: »
    2 is whether it’s better to take intro classes in college, even though you’ve taken the AP for the class in HS. The reason for these concerns is that getting into med school is so competitive, with the average college GPA of accepted applicants being slightly more than a 3.7, and GPA is weighed more heavily than what college you went to.

    Note that retaking courses in college that the college gives credit for your AP scores can mean marking "repeat" on medical school applications. Some medical schools consider this to be undesirable grade grubbing.
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  • compmomcompmom 11119 replies78 threads Senior Member
    I think, as a parent, you can tell your daughter she doesn't need to worry about this right now She can be an English major and go to med school. At one point, I read that music majors as a group had the highest admit rate (a few years ago). Encourage her to focus on the things that are important in middle and high school: developing interests, working hard, making friends and figuring out who she is.

    If she is bright and likes academics, she should take the classes that best fit her talents and interests. AP classes vary from school to school.

    Maybe she can volunteer in a hospital in the summer, when she is old enough.
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  • bopperbopper 14293 replies101 threadsForum Champion CWRU Forum Champion
    Medical schools don't care what you take in HS, generally. They may care if you are trying to use your AP Biology Test score to count as college Biology. Some Med schools will let you and some one.

    For college, she can major in whatever she wants but has to take pre-med pre-reqs like Calculus, Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and possibly others.

    So in HS, it is best to be prepared to do well in those classes...take honors versions of the sciences and at least one AP version if possible.
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  • wis75wis75 14266 replies64 threads Senior Member
    edited January 24
    Physician here. OP- do not think at all about your kid preparing for a good "premed college". Your child can attend just about any four year college in the US and learn what needs to be known for medical school. Plus getting the good test scores and other current COLLEGE level activities.

    So, your job is to help prepare the kid for adulthood while still having a good childhood. It does not take being gifted/a genius et al to become an excellent physician. It does take well above average ability (compared to the general population), interest and the willingness to learn material in a relatively short amount of time.

    To best prepare your child to enjoy the next four years (HS) and a good fit college to follow you need to pay attention to the here and now, not some distant goal s/he may or may not want then.

    As stated above, there should be a parent meeting for you sometime this spring given by your local HS that explains a lot about various options for courses HS freshmen take. Your child will also meet with their guidance counselor for help in planning HS courses. Typically there aren't many options available. There may be honors or regular versions of many classes- placement determined by the child's ability. Do not attempt to overplace your child- if the regular version is highly recommended it is likely the best for learning the material. Usually there will be standard English (Language Arts), science, social studies and perhaps PE classes. Having four years of one foreign language by HS graduation can free up college time for other classes- it is a good thing to know as well. Music and art classes depending on interest and ability will help with a well rounded education. Likewise there may be room for some entirely for fun classes within the four year HS plan. You HS will know what most colleges require for admission so your child can be sure to have the required units (years) of needed subjects.

    Extracurricular activities will vary according to present interests each year. These are done for personal enjoyment/enrichment chosen by the child, not the parent. They are not done to "look good on the record".

    Your child may discover sciences are not their thing and change plans along the way. Or they may discover other STEM interests or medical field interests. I recall being vehement when I started HS that I was only going to take the minimum required science (was in top academic options)- I ended up choosing to major in chemistry in college then chose medical over graduate school as my interests changed/matured over the years.

    My H is from India and had a lot of rote memorization and very few well rounding school experiences like are commom in the US. He also made the medical school decision basically just out of HS. I was able to take many fun courses beyond required ones in college that had nothing to do with getting into medical school.

    Remember to allow your child to be a child. Take time for the frivolous.

    edited January 24
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  • grtd2010grtd2010 902 replies8 threads Member
    edited January 25
    Most useful AP courses for pre-med in high school will be AP-Biology, AP-Chemistry, AP Calculus AB or BC (includes AB), AP-Physics (a few options here). Some colleges will provide you credit for introductory courses based on AP score. Even if you get AP credit for a course, one is advised to take higher level courses in the same department. Most pre-med may take higher level Biology courses like Genetics, Cell Biology, Microbiology, Anatomy, Physiology etc after getting AP-Biology credit in college. Some high schools may offer dual-credit courses at high school itself which can lead to college credits.
    Most US medical school have similar requirements for pre-med and one should worry about when one is in college with one's academic advisor.
    edited January 25
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