How important are Advanced Placement courses for MT?

<p>One more thing I thought to add for consideration to the OP. There are some schools where you must have a certain minimum GPA AND SAT/ACT to even be in consideration for merit scholarships as well as some where after a certain GPA AND SAT/ACT minimum you automatically receive a merit scholarship of a guaranteed amount. Sounds good right? Well note the use of the word AND in all caps. There is no consideration in the GPA calculation for rigor, it only matters what the number is. So if a student that takes a far more rigorous course load and has an A- average and another takes a much easier load and has an A average and they both have SAT/ACTs that meet the minimum, and the threshold is something like a 3.8 for the GPA, the student with the more rigorous load is out of consideration even if his/her SAT/ACTs scores are superior to the other student’s. My long way of saying sometimes it doesn’t pay (quite literally) to take the rigorous road. </p>

<p>Believe me, I’m not advocating taking the easy road if the more rigorous one is best suited for the student, but just know that if you’re on the fence about it, here is another point think about if any of the schools you plan on applying use that kind of a merit model.</p>

<p>Wait – they count it against you if your school offers honors and AP classes and you didn’t take them? I don’t know how it works elsewhere, but at our hs, you can’t take them unless you’re recommended — you can’t just choose to sign up for them. Our school is one where you could take only honors and AP for 4 years and my D has so far only taken honors English and World Civ. Even though she always has 100% on tests in French, she is never recommended for honors because she doesn’t do her homework. Unfortunately, she’s one of those smart kids who are disorganized and procrastinators.</p>

<p>I had to read back to try to figure out which post you are referring to since I do not directly see anyone suggesting that not taking honors/AP counts against you and I know I didn’t say it. Do you mean post #15?</p>

<p>Personally I think what really matters is that your student is engaged and learning something. If the rigor of an honors level class was not appropriate for either of my kids, I think that would inhibit his/her learning. I’d never force an honors/AP track in any subject on a student whose ability to engage and feel successful would be inhibited by that track. (I don’t even know what an AP class is by the way. I thought it just means the curriculum is designed for the AP exam?)</p>

<p>With very few exceptions (Northwestern? UCLA?) if the intention is to major in MT or theatre, it will not matter when it comes to admissions whether or not a every class taken is AP or Honors. What will matter is a track record of accomplishment which can be measured in many ways including grades, recommendations, to some extent ECs, leadership positions and so on. A student that is in a class that makes them miserable and that they are not successful in will be far less likely to have strong recommendations, see themselves a s a leader and have time for anything other than academics. So not worth it and not an admissions advantage at all to follow that track “just because it is there”.</p>

<p>It does sound scary when you hear that colleges look at the high school profile and see that there are APs offered. But, as others said, they don’t therefore just assume that you should have taken them. Yes, if you only took regular classes, and you kept getting straight A’s, they would think you should have challenged yourself a bit. </p>

<p>Our school offers 11 APs, but my son will not be taking any of them. He works really hard in regular math and science courses, and challenges himself in honors english and history. He doesn’t get straight As, and taking an AP would be extremely hard for him because he has so much music/theatre to do. What a lot of folks aren’t talking about, is the fact that just “taking” an AP course is not enough - colleges will look to see how you did on the exam as well! So it is more stress and a lot of studying at the end of the school year. Colleges aren’t interested in your score if you don’t get a 4, and in some cases a 5 (highest possible mark).</p>

<p>We have a friend who does it all (due to her mom, who does not hover like a helicopter, but rather blows through like one of the Blue Angels). The mom told me that she wants the girl to go to an ivy, then got upset when I told her that the ivies don’t have the best theatre programs. Who would go to Harvard to study theatre? And the poor girl is very talented and would be great in an MT program.</p>

<p>There are schools that want to see you took the most challenging courses available, meaning that if your school offers AP or IB courses and you didn’t take them that’s not looked upon as favorably as someone who did take the higher level classes. They want to see a thirst for knowledge. Of course, you have to be capable and do well in them. But all of this matters very little in most MT schools. It’s nearly always audition first and then if they want you the rest of comes into play with scholarships, etc. Not so important for admissions.</p>

<p>Colleges do take AP, IB, etc. into consideration when calculating GPA’s for scholarships, and they tend to only include “core courses” (normally Eng, Math, SS, Science, Lang). This may not apply in all cases, and I have not done an exhaustive seach, but the ones I took a look at recently all used their own formula for determining a weighted GPA for scholarship consideration and they all gave consideration for AP classes in determining the GPA for scholarships.</p>

<p>^^^just off of the top of my head: U Miami and U of New Hampshire do not take rigor into consideration for being in the qualified for consideration (UM) nor the automatic scholarship (UNH) award pools. Emerson doesn’t factor it in when evaluating for their honors program which is a 50 percent tuition discount.</p>

<p>Continuing on: I agree with Flossy completely. There ARE schools that will look for the student that did well in the most challenging courses and this is not so important for admissions in MT programs but it matters for scholarships. Totally true as is what I wrote about the GPA/SAT ACT minimum thing at some schools earlier so keep that in mind as well.</p>

<p>I’m going to show my bias here and I know that there will be plenty of people that disagree with me and that is fine. </p>

<p>I don’t get the AP thing at all. I complete get “honors” if that is a way of providing more rigor for those who need it but not AP for exactly what Marbleheader said. Ultimately it is about the test which I would suppose means the curriculum is centered on teaching to the test. I’m not saying that makes it bad (on the contrary as many would say and they would be right) but there are also ways to dive into subjects that have nothing to do with the boundaries of needing to cover material that is specifically on any given test. Well that is me and remember I said my kids’ schools do not offer AP classes. As a side note though and I’m reading off of my daughter’s school profile, 78% of the 265 students that sat for AP exams last year scored 4’s and 5’s and 94% scored 3s or better. I have nothing to compare it to but it certainly seems like it must be pretty good. </p>

<p>My daughter who is headed to NYU sat for the Calculus and English AP test (not the literature one, the other one) and did very well on both. It had absolutely nothing to do with admissions decisions at any of the schools we applied to because we didn’t send those scores anywhere (and the Calculus AP she took after she already knew where she was going to college.) Her AP English score it turns out won’t help her for anything at NYU and the calculus one will just count as a gen ed credit which is fine but not a game changer in any way. </p>

<p>Marblehead, I think your son is doing EXACTLY what he should be doing and props to you for realizing it and staying the course.</p>

<p>Let me correct myself which is the problem with “off of the top of my head”. U Miami cares about standardized test scores as a cut off for the merit pool, not GPA. My mistake. Also in fairness, though I know that Emerson doesn’t ask about rigor for how they decide if a student can be considered for their honors program what I don’t know is whether or not once you have qualified for consideration, is the playing field level and after that it is simply about your essay? Could be that I do not know.</p>

<p>Here, here Times3!! Thank you for your post. My D13 has taken a AP classes, advanced classes and “regular” classes (classes like Drama, Chior, Foods, PE do not count as advanced but some of those courses are requires to graduate). She is signed up for two dual enrollment classes next year and was signed up for AP Bio as well. We have decided to have her drop the AP bio. We decided that taking it serves no purpose except to pile on stress when she needs to be concentrating on college apps, auditions and scholarships. She will have taken 3 AP (5, 4, 3 for the exams) and 3 DE classes at graduation. Is it the most rigorous she COULD take? No, but taking AP classes just because they are available seems silly and counter-productive in our case. Only so many hours in the day!</p>

<p>Thanks for all of the information! We had the meeting with her college counselor yesterday and she made it clear that if D was going to apply at academically challenging schools, she should take the AP courses as originally planned - a total of four. She also said that her letter of recommendation will specifically address that D had a rigorous schedule, which will help with admissions.</p>

<p>I worry about all these kids who do shows and lessons and dance classes, get home at 9-10 pm, and then have to do homework of any kind, let alone rigorous AP/Honors classes. I guess that’s the name of the game for some of these schools, but I fear for their health.</p>


<p>Some kids are just wired that way and thrive under thoses conditions.</p>

<p>Even beyond helping with admissions for academically-selective schools or increasing scholarships at less-selective schools, there can be huge benefits to taking AP classes. D started with almost 2/3 of a year’s worth of college credits based on AP courses, which at some universities gives registration preference and in her case will enable her to either graduate a year early, take more theatre classes and/or more easily double major in 4 years. Not to mention that in her high school AP classes tended to have some of the best teachers, most interesting curriculum and more involved peers than the non-AP alternatives.</p>

<p>D considers AP courses some of the best time and $ she’s ever spent. </p>

<p>As @shacherry says some kids seem wired to thrive on challenge, but I do think it’s very important that the students decide for themselves if they want the added work of AP courses, since they’re the ones who have to do it.</p>

<p>It does make for a stressful and busy life, that’s true. I don’t think this is just true of theater kids though. I have a kid that is not pursuing theater who was heavily involved in extracurriculars every afternoon and night and weekend and still took the most challenging curriculum our HS offered and then some. She excelled at her EC endeavors, yet managed to excel as well at academics, perfect GPA, valedictorian, etc. But my kids didn’t choose the most challenging curriculum in order to get into good colleges. My kids were/are never satisfied if the school work is too easy and not challenging enough. They even went beyond what our HS offered through acceleration, independent studies, college level online courses, and so on in order to feel sufficiently challenged for learning’s sake, not to increase their odds at college admissions. </p>

<p>Honestly, once both kids got to college, both were again heavily scheduled with EC activities at college, along with challenging academics. They managed to fit it all in. I admit that are driven and motivated, but they also seem to thrive on being busy. </p>

<p>My youngest kid, the one who majored in MT, is now out of college (my older one is still in graduate school), and truthfully, her life as a self supporting performing artist is chockfull seven days and nights per week and she works very very hard. The rare instance when she comes home (hasn’t been here in 11 months), she cannot sit still and do nothing and laments that she can’t give up a day without accomplishing stuff she needs to do. </p>

<p>I know all kids are very different. However, I read time and time again on the MT Forum, parents or students lamenting that due to all the theater and lesson activities, they don’t have time for harder academic classes and so on. The fact is, many of the kids who take the most challenging and rigorous academic loads are ALSO super duper involved in extracurriculars. It can be done. I fully support extracurricular endeavors but I don’t think they should ever take precedence over academics. Both matter.</p>

<p>Yup! What soosievt said! I see smart kids from my kids’ hs who are just lazy and used the excuse that they are so busy with theatre they couldn’t do their school work. Sorry- but both my kids were able to do theatre without sacrificing their academics-and they also fit in EC’s and extra classes! If academics suffered, I would pull my kid from a show- not from their school work! Luckily, I never had to do that! :)</p>

<p>The other thing to consider is what these kids actual college life will be like as a musical theatre major. The kids have very long days filled with many different classes. D seemed busy with classes most days from mornings (sometimes 8am classes) until 6pm or so. There were some breaks, but not many. And those she spent doing hw or practicing. And then after 6 she was usually involved with rehearsals of some kind. So lots of days she was not back in her dorm until 11pm at the earliest.</p>

<p>So to me, there is no reason to try to shield a MT kid who is a junior or senior in hs from this kind of rigorous schedule. It is the life they are trying to commit to in college.</p>

<p>And it doesn’t get easier once they graduate.</p>

<p>These are all points with merit. However, we can’t know all the kids that people are talking about here, so I don’t think it is okay to imply that kids are lazy, or to be too judgmental. Everyone has a story . . .</p>

<p>^^^I appreciate the reminder greatly. Well said.</p>

<p>As one who is deeply skeptical about today’s educational system (Race to Nowhere, anyone?), I agree with Marbleheader that we must not be too judgmental. The teenage years are fraught with emotional difficulties. The child who looks lazy may be dealing with anxiety or depression to the point where it is difficult to even get up to get to school in the morning. Maybe theatre is the only thing that keeps them going.
Everyone is struggling in their own way, and not everyone can/wants/needs to be at the top of the class.</p>