High school courses advice

My son will be in 10th grade next year. He has the option to take AP Physics1 or World History Honors. Will colleges look for four years of social studies? Not taking a social studies course in 10th-grade affects admission to top private universities? My son is planning to go the STEM route and so considering AP Physics. Your input will be greatly appreciated in this matter.

thanks in advance

Colleges will want to see 4 years of each core course. Don’t double up at the expense of one of the cores (history being one).

In terms of science - one year of bio, chem, physics, and then one of those courses at the AP level.

Getting to the highest level of math offered at your school will also be important.


I agree, four years each of math, science, English, history, and foreign language, all at the highest level available to him, is the best path. You then have to make adjustments according to his inclinations, and his ability to handle the highest level classes.

Some schools only offer certain courses at AP level; for instance, some high schools won’t offer “standard” calculus or “standard” physics.

You might want to schedule a meeting, or at least a phone call, with your child’s guidance counselor to plan his courses. Also, the current teachers will make recommendations as to which level would be appropriate for him.

It depends on the rest of his four year schedule. If he is a STEM student, he should take 4 years of science. Physics 1 might be a pre-req for other physics classes. If he ends up loving it, he may take bio, chem and two years of physics.

What does your school/state require for social studies? In our neck of the woods, world history, USH and gov/econ are required for graduation. Euro history is an elective for us.

My strong STEM student, who got into several top schools, took 5 years of science (3 APs), 4 years of foreign language (1 AP) and 3 years of social studies (including APUSH). We were told that, if a student doesn’t take the 4th year of foreign language or a 4th year of social studies, they look at what the student took instead.

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@PantryRaider , can he take both? Many schools allow a 6th "core"course (core= math, sci, history, English, FL). In our school that is how kids can get more courses they like–they “double” in one of the five subjects. In fact, taking APphysics1 in 10th is the only way to get in to the next two physics levels.

Same here. D21 did AP Human Geo in 9th, not APUSH (just honors in 11th) as she had STEM AP and DE courses that she prioritized. She only took 3 years of social studies and there was no issue with highly selective colleges. She only had 3 years of Latin as well with one at the college level.

Find a balance of courses that make sense based on interests and meet the requirements. They do not have exceed the requirements in every core area.

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Thanks you all for your valuable suggestions.

Thanks Pathnottaken. My son wants to follow the same path.

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Thanks 2Devils. Unfortunately he has no room for taking both. He is leaning towards taking AP Physics in 10th grade and APUSH in 11th grade.

thanks lkg4answers. I checked top 3 colleges in my state. They require only 3 Social courses.

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Thanks. We had a discussion with his counselor. He said 95% of the colleges don’t require 4 courses social studies. That and all your feedback makes us feel comfortable.


However, this would limit his choices senior year when such decisions are much more consequential.