If I were to not take at least honors chem, would I be screwed? (Context below)

If I were to major anywhere in the STEM field, and if I were to not take Honors Chemistry or AP Chemistry, would that look bad for colleges on the transcript if I took regular?

In general yes, but depends on the college. If you’re applying to Harvard, it’s doom.

If you are applying to Missouri Southern State, not a big deal.

When I was growing up, we had standard and college-prep. You took standard if you were going to a community college or no college at all. Otherwise you took college prep. We did not have APs…or grade inflation…like today. Honors is the same thing as college prep.

If you’re going to major in a STEM field, why would you take regular? Better to get challenged now, plus the level of student you’ll be in class with will probably not be as engaging. For any school that’s somewhat competitive, this will raise a red flag. It may or may not be a death sentence, depending on the school and how your overall application looks.

It would depend what the rest of your course load looked like, and why you opted out of Honors/AP. Overall, there are understandable reasons why you might not fit AP Chem into your schedule, but I’m not sure why you’d take regular rather than honors.

Not necessarily. Do you have a scheduling conflict, for instance? Does your school offer it? Do you have alternative classes that you prefer and offer academic rigor and depth? Is there something interesting in the rest of your activities, particularly outside of school? Etc.

You do NOT need to take every single AP class offered by your school, even to get into the tippy top schools. Overall, you should take the most rigorous classes offered, but if you have a very heavy time commitment to extremely impressive ECs, and excellent grades overall, you can take a lower level class occasionally.

Because the AP Chem teacher had a bad reputation, and because the class required so much work, my kid took regular chem, as opposed to AP chem, in a year when he was out of town every weekend from Fri late afternoon until Sun night for an EC, along with anywhere from 2-4 weeknight commitments for that EC. Schedule included all the rest of academics at top level offered. Kid got into a tippy-top school, with the intention of pre-med. Interviewer never asked why regular Chem, instead of AP Chem.

BUT… if you don’t have a good reason to not have taken AP Chem, such as you’re already taking 4 other tough APs, or your extremely impressive EC focus is taking up a HUGE amount of your time, and are only avoiding it because it’s hard, and might jettison your GPA, and the rest of your transcript shows a similar pattern, then yes, it would possibly mean that highly selective schools would view you as not having taken the most rigorous courses available to you, and not admit you.

For top 20 colleges, taking the most rigorous courses available is extremely important. But even then, a single “regular” course is most likely not going to be disqualifying as long as the rest of your transcript shows a high level of rigor. For colleges outside the top 50 there is more leeway in terms of what courses you take although most schools want to see you challenge yourself. The bigger question, to me, isn’t whether or not taking a regular chem course will impact college admissions, but why you don’t want to take the more challenging option–especially since you want to be a STEM major.

This may be true at some high schools, but not all. We don’t know the OPs high school so to say everyone in honors is going to college and everyone in regular is not or is going to cc is a huge leap. At some suburban high schools, near everyone goes to college, even the kids in regular classes. My son took about half regular, half honors and is currently at Pitt. But he was in honors in classes related to his major.

OP, if you want stem, and you want to go to a reasonably selective college, you should be in honors chem. The only reason I can see not do it is if there is a scheduling conflict with another core class (not an elective).

What classes have you been taking and are scheduled for in science and math?
What universities are you aiming for?

Note that AP Chem is a “level2” AP, which requires a prior class in chemistry (regular or honors) like AP Calc requires precalc, not a "more intense than honors class in the way AP US History is.
AP Chem is not required (although it helps because it’s often a weedout course, especially at large universities), however you do need to have bio, chem, and physics, with one at AP level, if you’re aiming for a STEM major at a selective 4-year college.

As others said, it may depend on how competitive the schools you are applying to. Rigor is definitely a factor in college admissions. You don’t have to take AP but I would take Honors especially if you are a STEM major. It will also better prepare you once you get to college. My daughter is a college freshman and Chem was a requirement for a lot of the STEM majors. Her major is Biology and she is taking Chem this semester.

If the Honors Chem makes you nervous look into having a private tutor or extra help lined up early. That may make the difference for you. Good luck!

If you cannot fit “Honors Chemistry” or “AP Chemistry” into your schedule for any school year than take the regular course and notify the colleges about your situation. But if you are able to take higher level chemistry classes in high school then take it anyway.

Algebra II Honors
English II Honors
World history
Spanish 3
Yeah I think I made a mistake in selecting my classes… I should have done honors chem. I was kinda weak in bio, which is why I didn’t really consider it. I’ll take ap physics next year though

I didn’t even know what I really wanted to major in, until now. I messed up

It’s fine. You didn’t mess up. Most students figure what they want to major in when they’re freshmen in college and sampling classes through gen eds.
Ask your chemistry teacher and your GC if it’s too late for you to switch to Honors chem.

Your schedule is ok but not very rigorous.
What do you intend to take next year?

I intend on taking this next year:
-Spanish 4 Honors
-us history
btw I can add another ap if I take a 0 period

again it all depends on what type of school you are looking at.

If it’s Harvard, not going to happen. If it’s University of Nebraska, etc. it’s likely fine.


You haven’t provided a list of schools you are interested in. So I have to guess.

But did you honestly think that your schedule would get you into a top school? I’m not trying to be harsh.

You asked the question and the answer is it depends.

Since you didn’t provide further context I took different levels.

Your curriculum is fine for many schools but not near rigorous enough for top schools. That’s ok because there are thousands of great schools and you’ll find many for you.

Btw you said you don’t know what to major in. Neither do most - that’s why undecided is often the most chosen major by incoming freshman and the stats say 80% will change during college.

not rly. back then i didnt really care or know what to do, but now I do. Yeah now I found out what I kinda like and its hitting hard home

If you can move up to honors level in Spanish, Chem, and history, that might help, even if you’re not taking any AP classes this year. Assuming that school started two weeks ago, I’d say it would be a little tough to move up to AP in anything now, since they should have moved along fast and covered a lot of material in the first two weeks - probably be too hard to catch up. But if you can move up to honors levels now, would probably be a good idea.

Are you in eleventh grade?

10th. I asked my counselor and chem teacher today if it would be too late to switch.