Hi, I recently saw a thread where people discussed the amount of APs that they took. In it, it seemed as if people were taking more than 10 APs. Though this, the thread seemed somewhat outdated (2016), so I wanted to ask a similar question but with more recent answers : how many AP and DE courses do YOU take? All answers will be appreciated.
My D graduated HS in ‘18. She took 10. It was the maximum allowed at her school.
While most here will say that college admission is not a race to see who has the most APs, you want to check in with your guidance counselor to see how they define “highest rigor” in your own school. You need that boxed checked if applying to highly selective schools.
When you apply to college, you are going to be evaluated in the context of what your school offers and what is customary for your school. If top students at your school typically take 10 APs, that is what top colleges will expect from you. You are not going to be compared to applicants from other schools where typical AP numbers are higher or lower. Some schools don’t offer any APs. In that case, the adcoms won’t expect any.
S20 took 13 AP exams. School average was more like 5-6.
It’s all relative. As stated what is the norm for your school. At my son’s school unless you come from one of the two 7/8 grade accelerated schools you can’t start APs till Junior year but his all honors school at that time was the top school in the state which probably had more pull.
Do to scheduling issues his junior year he could only take 2… Yes, he freaked out but his counselor told him it won’t effect anything with the colleges. He over compensated senior year and took 6 with Calc 3. He found this to be his most interesting schedule and thought it was easier then his all honor classes.
So shoot for 4-6 and find out what the norms for your school are. Also schools don’t look favorable on like AP stats if there is something with more rigor that makes sense
Lastly, only take them if you can do well in them. Taking alot of APs and not doing well doesn’t give you any advantage.
It isn’t just the number of AP courses. Which ones matter.
AP courses in statistics, human geography, and environmental science look less impressive than calculus, US history, and chemistry, for example.
Skipping non-AP courses like precalculus, foreign language level 3 or 4, and physics to take AP courses in statistics, human geography, and environmental science also may not looks so good, and put you behind in actual preparation for college work.
I’m curious, what is a DE course?
The school I attended freshman, sophomore, and half of junior year was really sparse when it came to APs. I only took AP World History and AP US History (I took all advanced courses other than that), however since I switched to a more academically rigorous school, I’ll be taking 5 APs my senior year.
I’m a rising Senior and I’ve taken 8 AP classes so far. By the time I graduate I am set to have completed 13
But the previous comments are correct, it’s all relative to your school and more than that, your personal goals.
I made a conscious decision not to take Studio Art and Music Theory because I intend to be a Stats major. Instead I’ve used my electives to take Stat and AP Capstone (for more of a passion project)
For context my school offers 21 AP classes (though I don’t know the average taken) and doesn’t offer Honors or IB
S20 took 17 AP + 2 DE. While he had some success in college applications, I don’t think that AP classes per se were deterministic. Our youngest, when he gets to high school, will likely take fewer.
D20 took 6 APs out of the 12 offered (all social studies and English), 1 IB math class (it fit her schedule, APs did not), and 5 DE (math, music, and through 200 level Foreign Language classes). She also took 3 honors level classes, which is all that was offered. She is obviously not a STEM kid but she didn’t take the “easy” APs and maxed out the course offerings in 3 other subject areas.
Note that college or dual enrollment courses taken while in high school can vary in how they are seen:
A. Advanced (beyond college frosh level that AP courses cover similar material to). Examples: multivariable calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, discrete math.
B. College frosh level (what AP courses cover similar material to). Examples: single variable calculus, general chemistry, general US history, general biology, English composition, introductory economics, introductory psychology. There are also courses at this level that there are no AP courses for, such as sociology, philosophy, anthropology, ethnic studies, history other than US, Europe, or “world”, etc…
C. College frosh level but for non-majors. Examples: single variable calculus for business majors, “physics for poets”, “rocks [geology] for jocks”.
D. Below college frosh level (high school level, remedial in college context). Examples: precalculus, college algebra, trigonometry, developmental English composition, preparatory chemistry, preparatory physics.
Beginner to intermediate foreign language courses are a special case, in that college and high school courses cover similar material, but college courses cover material much more quickly (a semester in college is often like a year or more in high school).
Also, college or dual enrollment courses taken at a college with other college students may be seen more favorably than those taken in a high school environment with only high school students.
My older daughter graduated in ‘17 and took 5. My youngest graduates in ‘21 and will have 18.
But her HS is on a binge to team up with a local CC and make many courses “dual enrollment/College in High School” courses. Her 9th grade Pre-Calc class was technically DE as she earned CC credit, as was what used to be just Honors Chemistry in 10th.
12 actual AP courses and 2 “real” DE courses through University of Pittsburgh would be a more accurate.
The school publishes AP awards data and in the past there have typically been 3 or 4 National Scholars, requiring 8 AP tests, and 20-30 “with Distinction”, requiring 5. So the average “top students” probably take 6-7.
Those particular DE courses would not be too impressive, since they are high school below-AP level (remedial from a college standpoint).
They shouldn’t be impressive at all.
Which is why I referenced “real” DE courses at Pitt as a small (2 of 6) subset, being a more accurate representation, in the next sentence.