AP Physics vs. AP Environmental Science

Last year my daughter (a rising senior) was leaning toward majoring in Science and so she doubled up on taking AP Chem and Honors Physics. This year she planned on taking AP Physics but is reconsidering swapping it out with AP ES. She has changed her mind about majoring in Science and is now leaning toward thinking public policy or the humanities. She will have 9 APs by the time she graduates and her counselor should check “most rigorous schedule” for her school based on her choices. She has an unweighted 4.0 and a ton of leadership. Her reaches include Georgetown and possibly Brown (maybe another ivy) and so her concern is that the switch might hurt her. I’m not sure how to advise her. On the one hand, her extracurriculars lean more toward environmental science anyway (she has a leadership position in one) and everything else she does is very social justice oriented—leading toward her chosen major. On the other hand, she feels pressured to take AP Physics because students on the toughest track usually take it… so worried it may hurt her if she switches it out. Any thoughts?

The important thing is for HS students to take a science sequence that includes bio, chem, physics and one of those courses at the AP level. Assuming your D took some level of bio freshman or sophomore year, I think she’s fine taking APES.

That’s the key. In the ~ 10 minutes that an AO reads an application, assuming that “most demanding” is checked,s/he is not going to microanalyze the transcript semester by semester to second-guess course choices. If she’d rather take APES, she should take APES. If she does not get in to G’Town, it won’t be because she did not take AP Physics.

On another note, you don’t say which AP Physics it is. If it’s AP Physics 1, it’s a waste of a class to take after Honors Physics. If it’s AP Physics C, it does not align with a student planning on a public policy/humanities major, and the class will be filled with hard-core STEM kids who will be engineering/CS/physics/math majors.

Your case is exactly why “one size fits all” doesn’t work. She’s taken all three Bio chem physics, she has Environmental Science related ECs, it’s a subject she may minor or major in = taking APES makes sense and fits with her general profile. If she gets the ‘most rigorous’ check mark she will not be penalized by that choice.
Be aware that for Georgetown she will need 3 subject tests (in her three strongest subjects - based on her major, perhaps 1 humanities, 1 social science, and 1 more).

Thank you all for the responses and advice—confirmed what I was thinking. I appreciate the help and insight!