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Is AP US History really needed for "Most Rigorous" designation?

sherimba03sherimba03 36 replies4 threads Junior Member
Hi, my son is currently a junior, taking AP Physics C, AP Calc B/C, AP English, regular Spanish and regular US History. Last year he took AP Chem. Next year he plans to take AP Spanish, AP Stats, AP Lit, AP Bio or Psych, and AP Econ or Government. This seems like a lot of APs to me! However, I have seen postings on cc that talk about APUSH being a requirement for Most Rigorous designation. Is this designation different for every high school or is there some standard that they follow? I have told him to talk to his GC but I was curious what this forum's opinion is. Does he need to backpedal and enroll in APUSH next year instead of one of the others?

(No need for comments about risking his GPA or ECs taking so many APs; he is very careful about not biting off more than he can chew, and he enjoys being challenged. Plus he has whittled his ECs down to just two: next year he'll be captain of the football team and president of a volunteer org, plus a part-time job).
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Replies to: Is AP US History really needed for "Most Rigorous" designation?

  • sherimba03sherimba03 36 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Thank you @NJWrestlingmom I will make sure he does. I'm kicking myself for not knowing about this need for "most rigorous" designation sooner, but what can you do? I'm sure it will all work out fine. :smile:
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7853 replies66 threads Senior Member
    This is a very school specific question. You gave your son the correct advice to talk to his GC.

    Note that for college admission, it's not only how the GC categorizes rigor, but how they assess it for themselves. Typically psych and stats are not considered to be at the same rigor as physics C, calc, etc....

    My $.02 is that I would encourage AP bio over psych.
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  • NJWrestlingmomNJWrestlingmom 1318 replies2 threads Senior Member
    I'm sure it will. D is at a pretty rigorous school, and what you posted above would seem to more than meet what her school expects. He'll be fine whatever the outcome!
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  • lvvcsflvvcsf 2350 replies58 threads Senior Member
    APUSH is often the first AP course taken by a lot of students because it only requires a general history course to get into which many students have by the 9th grade. It fulfills a a history requirement for graduating in our school district. I wouldn't call it one of the easier ones either. That could be because so many who take it are younger high schoolers. The only AP course I'll caution you about is AP Stats. Many college don't accept credits for AP Stats as they require specific Statistics courses based on their major. Both my Ds, one a Chem E and the other pre- PT (dance major but taking PT prerequisites) had to take Stats in college as the AP Stats wouldn't fill the requirement. They both went to different schools. AP Bio is typically considered a difficult AP course, AP Psych not as much. Bio is another that depending on what you want to do you may need to retake the course. AP Psych typically will cover beginning Psychology at most schools.
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  • NCKrisNCKris 262 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Most rigorous curriculum is school dependent.
    It appears that your son is a strong STEM student, with APs in Calc, Chem, Phy etc. He does not need to take AP for every subject.

    At DD's school, STEM oriented kids choose to take Hons. History over 2 years, rather than APUSH (very time-consuming).

    He should talk to his GC and confirm (and not to worry :)
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79097 replies703 threads Senior Member
    It is counselor's judgement, which may or may not be based on a defined school policy.
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  • lkg4answerslkg4answers 1726 replies208 threads Senior Member
    We have multiple GC and at our school, it is not up to the individual GC but is a well defined, uniform distinction that applies to the school as a whole. Our GC was reluctant to state exactly what went into the school's determination of "most rigorous." That said, it was suggested to us that a top student (especially a STEM student) take APUSH to show that he/she could manage a rigorous humanities course.
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  • mathmommathmom 32545 replies159 threads Senior Member
    AP US History is probably the AP taken by the most students in our school. It's a junior year course as NYS requires two years of Global History which in our school is always freshman and sophomore year. I've known of kids who took AP science and math courses, but didn't take AP History, but they went to the second tier of selective colleges that were STEM oriented. (Think RPI, Stevens Institute)

    That said, neither of my kids took any AP English courses and they both got into highly selective colleges. Younger son took all the AP history courses our school offered, and two sciences and math. Older son took all the major science and math APs, plus some post AP math and AP Econ and AP Latin. As far as I know they got "most rigorous ratings". They both got rejected from several single digit admissions rate schools, but accepted at other ones that are equally hard to get into. The lack of English APs might have made a difference, but their happiness senior year in the English electives they took instead were well worth it IMO.

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  • CaviteeCavitee 153 replies12 threads Junior Member
    Talk to your GC.
    I had this discussion with my daughter’s GC last year when she was applying. At her school, they do not check those boxes for any students. They felt that between the class profile and the students course choices it spoke for itself.
    She based her class choices on what she was told at UVA’s legacy liaison meeting. They strongly suggested AP for core classes (I.e. English, Math, Science, History and FL). They treat non core class APs (Psych, Environmental Science, etc) as a “regular” class.
    Keep in mind this is very high school specific. If you child’s high school offers 30 AP options vs 3 or 4....
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  • compmomcompmom 10931 replies78 threads Senior Member
    edited November 28
    I wouldn't base course choices on this issue. Many selective colleges will still admit a student without APUSH. If the student is interested in history, fine, and if the student isn't stressed, great. But keep those two things in mind, along with his areas of talent. Especially for senior year, which is tough for everyone.
    edited November 28
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2472 replies47 threads Senior Member
    edited November 28
    Our HS requires students to take the highest level classes in four of the five core subjects for all four years to get that "most rigorous" box checked. So, yes, it is specific to the high school. It is useful information to know for planning purposes.

    So in our HS, you do not need to take APUSH to have the most rigorous classes as long as you take the highest levels in English, science, math, and world language. It is known to be a big time sink in our school, with about two hours of homework a night.
    edited November 28
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  • LindagafLindagaf 9524 replies511 threads Senior Member
    This is not a universal truth. My understanding is that the majority of high schools evaluate course rigor by the number of AP, IB and Honors courses taken, or whatever the school’s most rigorous offerings are. For example, my kids both had about 7 high level courses each and both were given “most rigorous” by the counselor. Neither of my kids took APUSH.

    I do know that Most rigorous varies from high school to high school. Top colleges generally like to see 5-7 AP classes for applicants, but they also consider how many offerings a school has, and what the top students take in comparison to others. I don’t believe that colleges expect to see APUSH on a transcript as opposed to other AP classes. They just want to see that a student has challenged him or herself.
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  • chardonMNchardonMN 108 replies12 threads Junior Member
    I don't think our high school checks that box (they also don't rank). I never heard it come up in all the many college meetings we had. I think the colleges look at what they've taken and whether overall it is rigorous and you have challenged yourself. It probably started out with colleges seeing kids getting 4.0s in less challenging classes back when this college arms race got going, and preferring kids to work harder. The philosophy at our HS is to focus on the APs you are interested in and/or strong in. I suppose it depends whether the high school generally marks that box or not. I can't imagine with all those APs your student will not look like he has challenged himself! Especially if he gets decent scores on the tests too.
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  • thumper1thumper1 75532 replies3310 threads Senior Member
    There are plenty of students who get accepted to very fine colleges without ever taking APUSH.

    I think this is much ado about nothing.
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  • sybbie719sybbie719 20777 replies2016 threads Super Moderator
    It us all school dependent. Every NYCDOE has a CUNY college now partner. In order to take college now courses you must meet the CUNY college readiness standard.

    At my high school you must be enrolled in college now in order to take AP classes.

    The first college now class has to be freshman comp. our partners are Baruch/hunter/city college junior year students are dual enrolled in Freshman comp and English (because the school did not have AP English. School also offers courses through SUNY albany. All of the core 4’s are either college or APCourses

    Most rigorous course load junior year 3 college courses and 2 AP courses (US & Physics)

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  • calmomcalmom 20632 replies168 threads Senior Member
    I'm kicking myself for not knowing about this need for "most rigorous" designation sooner
    There really is no such "need" in a situation like your son's -- where there already are so many AP's being taken.

    That "most rigorous" thing would be more relevant in the context of a general or less-competitive high school where the majority of students aren't taking AP's, and others might take only one or two. Or for students coming from schools that don't offer any AP's at all -- without a clear way for the colleges to figure out from course titles which are the most challenging.

    What the college really wants to know is -- did this student seek out challenge? They also may need some context for information about the students class rank, as some schools might determine class rank using unweighted GPA's.

    And with all those AP's your son is signed up -- obviously there are going to be scheduling limitations. There just is a very big difference between a school where the top students might be taking 4 or 5 AP classes over their high school career, and one where students are carrying loads like that every semester.

    You can have your son talk to the school GC if the idea of "most rigorous" is worrisome to you -- but the ad coms really aren't looking to see whether that box is ticked when they see a kid with a transcript full of AP's.
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  • wis75wis75 14168 replies64 threads Senior Member
    edited November 28
    OP- don't worry. Others have already given the talk to the HS GC advice. A most rigorous course load means taking many of the possible honors/AP/IB choices offered by a HS, not absolutely every one. Your son's list looks like he is taking enough of the most rigorous classes offered with all of the AP's mentioned. There will be times a student does not take an AP version simply because it conflicts with another desired course- that happened to my son on occasion.

    My son's HS had many top students taking AP instead of, not after, regular US History. One kid I know tested out of APUSH because he took the AP exam and got a 5 on it as a freshman (before he would have taken it as a sophomore). This was a typical WI city, not some rich suburb. Different HS's have different rules about how many and when kids can take AP courses (other CC threads on this in the past). You deal within the context of your HS.

    I dislike the thought of people rating various AP courses based on perceived difficulty and advising which to take on that. Students should be taking a variety of classes in HS, including so-called easy ones. Great to get a statistics course in HS- even if required to take another for one's major in college. Likewise for any other AP course- they will not preclude taking a more rigorous college course for a major. It can happen that a student chooses classes to fill a schedule- including the AP version of some "lesser" classes in light of the alternatives.
    edited November 28
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  • wis75wis75 14168 replies64 threads Senior Member
    Another comment on AP courses. "Very time consuming" depends on the teacher and the student. Some STEM kids are also gifted in humanities and can write well. Some teachers demand more/less. Some kids read and comprehend faster than others. It is good when there is a correlation with the HS grade and the AP exam grade- that means the teacher is teaching the material tested.

    My (now long ago) example is two boys in different states (both gifted per 5th grade talent search testing same composite)- one got a C his final senior HS semester in AP Chem and a 5 on the AP test while the other got an A and a 3. The difference- the slacker/hard worker and the well/poorly taught class.
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  • inthegardeninthegarden 1252 replies25 threads Senior Member
    ^^ This! My daughter is hoping to take AP Psychology and APES senior year, not because they're easy, but because she's excited about them. She has packed her schedule full of classic core honors/APs and required courses up to now. She will have taken all the sciences (including AP physics) and will have a non-STEM major in college, and so I'm inclined to let her substitute them instead of AP bio or chem (which each take up two class periods at her school).




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