HS Junior - feeling worried - AP vs Dual Enrollment?

Hi everyone! I am a junior in highschool and I currently am taking two honors courses and planning to take dual courses in one month. I am very stressed out right now because I feel like I have a low chance in getting into my dream school. I was planning on applying for many AP courses last year but the shutdown happened and I was dealing with a stressful situation in my family and I got completely sidetracked. I managed to take two courses over the summer. My UW gpa is 3.5 and weighted is 4.4. I took AP gov last year and got a 5 on the exam. Im just really scared and don’t know what to do, right now I have all A’s. By time of applications senior year I would have taken 7-8 dual enrollment courses is that enough to get into UCSB, UCSD, or UCSC? Those are my dream schools I know I can’t get into UCLA, I have the option to self study only 1 AP class this year, should I do it? It will be hard while taking two dual courses but I really want to get into a good university or should I senior year bulk up and take 5 APs? Id prefer taking the APs through my school since the self study option is very expensive but will taking only dual enrollment for junior year look appealing to a competitive or slightly competitive school? Ive always had good grades but I took mostly regular classes but I have done tons of extracurricular activities and clubs; girlscouts for 11 years, Vex robotics for 5 years, founded two clubs at my highschool, hackathons every month, 50 hours in volunteer service. There’s a lot more I can put down but those are just examples. Any advice will help Im just really stressed and lost and I don’t know what to do.

There is no magic number of AP’s and DE courses that the UC’s expect you to take. As long as you have a rigorous HS schedule with good grades, the UC’s are possible so do not stress.

Also get rid of the notation of the “dream school”. You are doing well so far and you should have several great options when you apply. Your dream school should be any school that accepts you and where you will thrive.

UC’s only use 10-11th grades for their GPA calculation and will look at your HS senior schedule to see if you are continuing your HS course rigor.


Self studying is frowned upon by most schools. They would rather see a good grade in an AP class vs a good AP score.

Do not overload your schedule unless you are confident you will do well in all these classes and still have time to enjoy HS.

Believe or not, the majority of students “bloom where planted” and you will get into a good university.

It depends on what the college or dual enrollment courses are. Some college courses may be remedial (from a college point of view), covering high school level material like intermediate algebra or trigonometry. Others may be similar level as AP courses (generally college frosh level) like single variable calculus. Others may be at a more advanced level like multivariable calculus or linear algebra.