Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.

How many AP should I be taking to get into a top school??

vandygoalzvandygoalz Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
This year is my junior year and I took 2 AP (we do year long classes, not semester). At this point, halfway thru the year, I feel like that is way too little to get into Vanderbilt, my goal school, so I'm having a mini freakout!!! I'm getting really great grades in them but 2 AP seems not so rigorous to me anymore...are my chances shot? Do I need to take a ton senior year to compensate?

Replies to: How many AP should I be taking to get into a top school??

  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 4,711 Senior Member
    edited January 20
    How many are you planning for senior year?

    My D17 got into UChicago with only two from junior year (and 4 more from senior year) so it's possible to get into a top school with just a few AP's. Schools want to see that you are challenging yourself and taking the hardest course load you can handle; however, high schools and even school districts might vary widely in their AP course offerings so obviously there can be no "minimum" number of AP courses. Sign up for the maximum load you can handle next year and finish out your current year with high grades and you will be doing your best in that category to maximize your chances at Vandy.

    NB: AP English, History, Calc, Physics, Bio, Chem, FL, studio art and music are going to be viewed much more favorably than Psych or Econ. Save those for your major. Stats and US Gov. are probably fine but Calc B/C and Euro are harder so take those if you need to make a choice.
  • CariñoCariño Registered User Posts: 224 Junior Member
    edited January 21
    It depends on how many AP's your school offers, and how many your classmates are taking.
    My daughter's school offers 32 AP's. The top students that get into Ivies/UChicago/Stanford/MIT take an average of 12/16 AP's through HS.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,594 Senior Member
    @Cariño is right: it matters what the range is at your school: if the top students take 2, then 2 is plenty. Many schools have limits on how many you can take (and when you can take them). Colleges will only compare you to your own environment.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 38,537 Senior Member
    edited January 21
    Also depends what the two are and what your goals are (major).
    If the two are AP English language and AP Physics1 (for instance) you're good no matter what. If they're APES and AP psych, not so much. If you're going for engineering and won't be able to take calculus then things aren't good, but being in precalculus honors now is better than being in AP stats after taking algebra2 last year.
    Also, what are your other classes and what classes are you thinking of for next year?

    In a nutshell: it's not the number. It's your whole schedule, in comparison to the optimal schedule at your school and in relation to your goals.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 29,389 Senior Member
    edited January 21
    It's not the sheer number a hs offers. It's still about which cores you take. Math, science, English, history/SS, FL.

    Kids aiming for top colleges should know this. It doesn't mean you can slouch. But the issue isn't, oooh, they offer 20+ and he only took 13, but she took 14.

    Yes, you'll want your GC to check off that you took the "most demanding" courseload. But see how yours evaluates that.

    And learn what else matters.
  • Titan431Titan431 Registered User Posts: 25 Junior Member
    Probably at least 4 if your school offers a wide variety.
  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 37,514 Super Moderator
    NB: AP English, History, Calc, Physics, Bio, Chem, FL, studio art and music are going to be viewed much more favorably than Psych or Econ.
    Econ (assuming both micro and macro) will be viewed more favorably than psych. Studio Art and Music Theory, depending on the college, will be viewed as non-core courses.
  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying Registered User Posts: 4,711 Senior Member
    edited January 21
    @skieurope - I'd place Econ over psyche as well, but neither over Euro or American. Both intro to Psyche and intro to Econ at the college level will teach you much more than the high school AP course, while most college history seminars are actually enhanced by the student's basic knowledge in those areas. There may also be issues of outdated curricula (I know this is true for the Macro test) and, while YMMV, most of the AP econ. instructors we've run across don't even have basic demonstrated competency in the field (such as a BA in economics). History, Lit, Science, Math and FL tend to be taught by those who actually majored in the subjects (many even have achieved masters level or higher).

    Non-core courses are a great way to balance out your schedule and demonstrate other interests and talents. While the AP realm there (if available) provides the extra challenge for those who are up to it, it's not strictly necessary. However, having non-core IS necessary. Just my 2 cents here but the more you deviate from your comfort zone the better. Colleges see a LOT of AP CS, Econ, ES, Psyche, Stats, etc. on the transcript. AP music, studio. or independent research might just be more likely to catch their eye.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 29,389 Senior Member
    edited January 21
    They want it to make sense, you need to let *wise* choices "catch their eye." Plan for cores first and make savvy choices about the rest. You don't need to load up. You can leave the comfort zone via activities that have responsibilities and impact, not just titles.

    Different isn't always better.
  • vandygoalzvandygoalz Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    one of both: AP English and AP psych. Feel stupid for taking Psych now! Senior year next year I'll probably take Pre-Cal or AP Stats, AP studio art, AP French, AP litetarure, and AP bio. I feel like my junior year was a bust because of my dumb class choices!
  • Wilson98Wilson98 Registered User Posts: 378 Member
    Maybe you could have taken one or two different courses this year, but don't think of it as a bust!

    As everybody has said, it's not the number of APs, it's what they're in. I'd say to focus on going as far as you can in the five core areas. You're fine with AP Bio and AP French. Maybe you could have taken AP English lang this year, but having one AP English course total is OK. You could see if you can get an AP in history or government, as many students have 1 to 3 of those. And you could see if there's any way to take AP Calc AB (maybe taking a summer precalc course?). It depends on the school district, but anyone who started with algebra in seventh or eighth grade can usually get to Calc AB by senior year if they take a reasonably rigorous track.
  • billcshobillcsho Registered User Posts: 18,405 Senior Member
    It depends on several factors.
    1. How many your school offers
    2. The criteria to be considered most rigor by your GC.
    3. Your ability to maintain uwGPA near 4.0.
  • bopperbopper Forum Champion CWRU Posts: 11,796 Forum Champion
    Stanford University:

    Choosing Courses
    We expect applicants to pursue a reasonably challenging curriculum, choosing courses from among the most demanding courses available at your school. We ask you to exercise good judgment and to consult with your counselor, teachers and parents as you construct a curriculum that is right for you. Our hope is that your curriculum will inspire you to develop your intellectual passions, not suffer from unnecessary stress. The students who thrive at Stanford are those who are genuinely excited about learning, not necessarily those who take every single AP or IB, Honors or Accelerated class just because it has that designation.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 38,537 Senior Member
    edited January 30
    Case in point: Take precalculus rather than AP stats.
    Precalculus, AP Bio, AP French, AP lit , honors or ap history/ social science, a * non AP* art class would be a very rigorous schedule.
Sign In or Register to comment.