High School Schedule help, listen to counselor or not?

<p>Hi everyone,</p>

<p>I've got a scheduling dilemma. I'm torn between what my guidance counselor says and what I want to do. Ok here's my schedule for next year (junior year):</p>

<p>British Literature
Science Research (for doing independent research projects, to submit to Siemens or intel)
AP US History
Wind Ensemble(band)
AP Calc BC
AP Chem</p>

<p>Now, here's the deal. I've already taken two history classes (US History and AP World History), and plan to take AP Gov senior year. I've looked at a bunch of college websites, and the recommended years for social studies/history, and the highest number I've found is 3 years. Because of this, I'm thinking of dropping AP US History since I really don't need 4 years of social studies, even though it's an AP. </p>

<p>Instead of AP US History, I'm thinking of taking Computational Physics, for a few reasons:</p>

<p>-Even though it's not listed as an AP class, it's as rigorous as one and a lot of people in the class take the AP Physics B test (AP physics isn't offered at my school), which I might do.</p>

<p>-I want to take the SAT 2 Physics test and I don't think I could do well on it unless I take physics this year, because I've never taken it before. I want to take it because some programs I'm interested in recommend/require it, like Penn Vagelos and Cooper Union.</p>

<p>-The teacher for the class is extremely good, and I like him (took him freshman year for physical science), and I know that he likes me. I figure that he could be one of my letters of rec for college if I took physics this year, but if I take the class next year I couldn't really do that because I had him so early on.</p>

<p>-Keep in mind that I still have the option of taking the class next year, but taking AP US history is not an option.</p>

<p>Now, this is the dilemma. My counselor told me when I wanted to switch that I should stay in AP US History because "most colleges recommend 4 years" and that I'm already taking two science courses. Do you guys know if that's true? I've only seen recommendations of 3 years on college websites. </p>

<p>Also, how much would giving up an AP hurt how colleges look at the rigor of my schedule? I took 2 AP's last year, and I plan to take 5 next year. Up until now, I've taken all the AP's sophomores can take at my school.</p>

<p>I'm aiming at top tier schools, so keep that in mind when you guys respond. Thanks for all replies! I really don't know what to do.</p>

<p>I’m no professional at college admissions, but what I can tell you is this:</p>

<p>Schools will probably not look for exactly how MANY AP classes you take. They’ll look more for the course RIGOR you take. AP classes are not available in many schools in the U.S., and so colleges can not really use a # of APs as an admissions technique. Instead, they will look at what classes your school offers and compare it with your course selection. If you were consistently taking the difficult courses, then that is what they want.</p>

<p>What colleges recommend is different from what colleges WANT. Like if I was a dentist, I would recommend my patients to brush their teeth twice a day. Of course, I would want them to brush their teeth like 4 times a day, but I am just setting a MINIMUM to follow. Same thing with colleges. Their “recommendations” are the basic minimum. They want to see consistency - 4 years is golden. </p>

<p>The way I see your situation, I would forgo APUSH and take the physics, although I thought US History of any difficulty level was a requirement for most schools. O.o</p>

<p>The reason being is that not only will you be able to take the SAT II Physics and do well on it (full year course vs. taking it for a little and then attempting it), but you will be able to get a solid LoR from your teacher, given that you do well in his class and he still likes you. You said your interests were Penn Vagelos and Cooper Union. What I deduce from this is that you are interested in science/math (along with Calc BC during junior!! :O). In such situations, taking the physics course and the benefits it brings will be much higher than skipping it and taking 4 years of social studies in the eyes of science/math heavy colleges. </p>

<p>Good Luck!</p>

<p>If you’re aiming for top schools, you should have four years of history under your belt. If you want to take the physics class, I would recommend dropping the research class (assuming you can still do independent research outside of this class, whether through your hs or with a local college professor) or the AP Chem.</p>

<p>Ok, here’s some more info that I forgot to add in, if I took physics senior year, then I would have to drop AP gov and just test out of the regular government class over the summer in order to fit it into my schedule. So either way, I would lose a history AP, but I would get 4 years of social studies if I took physics senior year, as opposed to the 3 years if I took physics this year. So the consensus is that even though colleges recommend 3/2 years on their website, you still really need 4 to be competitive? Thanks for the responses guys.</p>

<p>Oh, and yeah, I’m considering dropping the research class…I really don’t want to, it just sounds so exciting, and I know I like doing research. I guess it’s not completely necessary though.</p>

<p>Does your state require a certain number of years in specific subjects. In my state (NY) social studies and English are required for all four years. Math and science are only required for three. Make sure you don’t run into that kind of problem by dropping social studies.</p>




<p>Second guessing your guideance counselor should be done with care. There’s a reason why he’s the GC :-(</p>

<p>I strongly agree with post #5, #6. You very much want 4 years of history/social studies. And for some universities (e.g. Univ. of CA) US History is a must.</p>

<p>I would recommend that you defer Physics to senior year. If possible take AP Physics, especially (if your school allows) the level that requires Calculus.</p>

<p>Your research course is a great plus for you, since it appears that you’re heading for a technical career. I would keep it – without of course compromising core courses.</p>

<p>Don’t drop the research class. The top tier schools like to see that you have taken an interest as far as you possibly can. Doing serious research with a PhD will demonstrate that. Typically, schools that are able to offer this as a course also have the relationships to help you get into a lab where you will do meaningful work and mentors and other supports. Some of the schools in NYC, for example, produce disproportiately high #s of Intel finalists, because the quality of the research opportunities and the work and education is just that good. If nothing else, having time set aside each day to do your research, read the literature, and work on your paper is a tremendous advantage.</p>

<p>If you have a strong letter of recommendation from a respected scientist talking about how good your research and analytical skills are, very few colleges will care whether you took 3 years or 4 years of history. Even more so if you hit the jackpot and are selected as an Intel finalist. There’s a reason colleges don’t have remedial history courses.</p>

<p>So what to do? If you feel confident you can take 3 science classes + calc and master all the material and keep your grades high, go for it…or if you think you will need the computational physics for your research project. But if you think you won’t get as much out of the classes if you take them all together, take the US History now and push back the physics till next year.</p>

<p>PS - my d’s school didn’t offer any APs. But she took courses like organic chem, astrobiology, that were considered college level. The top-tier colleges she applied to knew how to deal with it. I think it hurt her for merit aid on her applications to the public schools, which are more numbers driven, but it ended up not mattering.</p>

<p>Take the physics class.</p>

<p>OP has already taken regular US History. Three years of social studies is sufficient if OP’s primary interests lie in the sciences. Schools may <em>like</em> to see more social studies–but they also like to see more science than the recommended amount, more math, more language, whatever… Obviously different kids have different interests, and I think they realize this. You don’t always have to exceed the recommendation.</p>

<p>Furthermore, at some schools

is just not true. At a lot of high schools GCs have no idea what they’re doing. At mine, the different GCs outright contradict each other.</p>

<p>Our GC told us not to worry if we bombed the SAT, b/c schools use Score Choice and they won’t even look at that score. But I think most CCers know that a lot of schools want to see ALL your schools. You DON’T want 500s, even if they “don’t look at it.”</p>