Importance of AP History?

My DD’s in 10th grade but since touring W&M with her older brother, W&M has become her dream school. We’re having an argument about the rigor of her 11th grade classes and wanted some additional perspectives…

She’s generally a strong student at a competitive NoVA HS. She gets mostly As in honors classes but also took AP World History and AP Gov in 9th-10th and has struggled with those, getting Bs. History/social studies is not a big interest. She loves science and wants to major in something like environmental science, wanting to get a PhD and do research.

Her school does not limit advanced classes but I don’t want her taking more than 3 AP/IB classes. Two of those will be AP English and AP Calculus AB. She wants to take both IB Biology and APUSH. I think she should take regular history and lean into the advanced classes in her strength. But she’s worried that it will hurt her to not take APUSH like most of her friends. So, her 11th grade schedule would be:

AP Language & Composition
AP Calculus AB
IB Biology (year 1 of a 2-yr sequence)
US History (regular)
French 5
Physics (regular level)
Band/Marching Band

12th grade would be
AP Literature
AP Statistics
IB Biology (year 2)
IB Environmental Systems (double period)
Psychology
Band/Marching Band

Given that she has plenty of rigor in math, science, English. Does the history class matter?

Will the GC rate her schedule as “most demanding” without it?

I’ll have to ask what their threshold is for that. Really, the “most demanding” program at her school is the IB Diploma and she’s not doing that. She has ADHD Inattentive and gets really stressed out juggling the demands of school. The IB Diploma would be way too much stress for her.

It also depends on colleges targeted. 2 AP social science/history courses does not usually require a 3rd. It will all be evaluated in context. But I am also not an expert on W&M, so I will defer to others.

I will also add that it depends, in part, on the ability of the student and if she can handle it without undue stress.

@JESmom Just a note that our private college counselor and a math professor at Stanford said don’t waste your time on AP Stats. It is a fluff class, and ranks no where near the rigor in colleges minds as other AP classes if the student is a solid student. Same with AP Enviro Science. Just 2cents from a stranger. :slight_smile:
My son’s junior year is set to
AP Calc AB/BC
APUSH
AP Research
AP Lang & Comp
AP Comp Govt
XC/track
He is a very good student, high SAT score 1st sitting. I am a bit nervous about this schedule but he has 3 APs now as a soph, doubled up math this year to be ready for AP Calc next year and is doing one DE class this semester. He is doing fabulous this year so we gave him the green light on his choices for next year.
You know your daughter and what she can handle. Our counselors say a B in APUSH is better than an A in regular and worth the same for GPA at our school, so just depends on yoir gut and hers! Good luck!

Same with AP Comp Gov. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: But AOs will look at the total schedule, as well as the GC rating, and not parses course by course.

You will find some disagreement. But a A on AP is certainly better than an A in reg.

I don’t know…if the student Is already taking AP Calc Junior year, I don’t think W&M would penalize her for taking AP stats. Might be different if she were an aspiring engineer, but she’s not. Lots of high schools don’t offer more math than that. I think the problem occurs when students take AP stats to avoid Calculus. Easy or not, AP stats is a useful thing to have had going into college…she can take a more advanced stats class later and be all the better for having covered some of the basics. And (as long as she has had a chem class at any level) I think the two years of IB biology coupled with AP Enviro is not a bad combo for a student interested in studying environmental science in college. I think it would be clear to adcoms she is taking the course out of personal interest rather than an attempt to get an easy A. @JESmom, a red flag to look into though, is that I don’t think William & Mary has an environmental science major at this time (pretty sure it’s just a minor). If she’s interested, there’s a public policy major that can be coupled nicely with ES, or maybe she would go the biology route.

My D was accepted to W&M OOS (and was just selected to be a Monroe Scholar) taking only Calc AB senior year (no BC or higher math available) and AP environmental science coupled with one semester of community college biology (AP/IB bio was not available but she did takeAP physics 1 junior year). She did take all the AP history, social sciences, Lang/Lit courses at her school, but then, she will be a humanities or social science student. Evidently, taking the “easy” APs (APES, APHG, psych, gov) did not hurt her at all. She is actually interested in these subjects. Of course, students will be judged somewhat according to the context of their high schools, and my D did take the most rigorous schedule possible for her except for the fact that she didn’t take AP Physics 2. I don’t know how a student would be judged coming from a competitive IB school in NOVA where many students might be applying to W&M. Has she taken a chem class at any level? I’d say that’s important. Is there an honors US History class she could take as a middle ground?

As you probably know, W&M strongly emphasizes a desire for students with a sense of community/inclusiveness and a love for W&M, so that (along with a record of excellence) is what I’d advise any student to show if W&M is their dream school.

@3SailAway…do you have any opinions/advice about course selection?

Thanks for tagging me, @inthegarden ! I will certainly give my impressions of admissions at W&M, with the disclaimer that I’m a parent not an AO, and I’m basing this on the experiences of my two daughters and their friends. We are in NY at a public suburban high school in a competitive area, similar to NOVA. (I grew up in NOVA.)

I think the biggest boost you can get for W&M, is to apply early decision. Both my D19 and D21 did this, and I think it countered the comparative weaknesses in their applications. D19 had two close friend who applied regular decision. They both had higher standardized test scores (one was NMF) than D. They both had more rigor than D in math, and about the same in everything else. (D did not take Calc or any honors math.) She took AP and honors in everything else, including AP Physics. She was accepted ED, and both of her friends were waitlisted RD. I think W&M likes having those ED students on campus who have a lot of school spirit already and are just thrilled to be going to their dream school. I remember agonizing over D19’s junior year schedule, but now I see that we should have taken more of a big picture view!

My D21 is the opposite of the OP’s D because she’s such a humanities person. I worried about this because she did not take honors/AP in math or hard science. She did not take Calculus or Physics. She did take AP everything else and got A’s (APUSH, APEuro, APLit, APLatin etc.). She took a special research class you have to apply for, but her research was in history and psych. I stressed over the STEM deficit. She applied ED, and was over the moon to get in. So, based on D21’s experience, it looks like “lean into your strength” is good advice.

Of course, OP’s D is only in 10th grade, and could change her mind about schools. ED is only recommended when the kid is totally sure. We visited a lot of schools, and W&M multiple times. D19 shadowed a student, practiced with her sports team, etc., before deciding.

IMO, the second biggest thing that can help a W&M application is that the student is a fit for the school. I’m not sure how to articulate the vibe at W&M, especially since words mean different things to different people, but I can try: genuine, academic, engaged, quirky, and kind. Enthusiastic, but not necessarily extraverted, intellectually curious but not intimidating. If W&M is your dream school, it’s likely that you’re a great fit. I think this comes through in essays, LORs and interviews.

Hope that was helpful! With classes, I would say that it doesn’t seem like students need to have max rigor in every subject, especially if other parts of their application show a good fit.

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