<p>As a junior this year, I have taken 7 AP classes. Would it be "all right" (certainly not the right phrase to use, but I think you'll understand the context from which I am coming from with respect to college admissions) for me to take only 3-4 AP's next year if the rest of my classes consist of graduation requirements (in which I could take AP's but don't want to) and 1-2 dual enrollment classes at a local college outside of my normal school schedule?</p>
<p>Note that I am targeting HYPSM, but am more realistically worried about my course rigor as it would appear to colleges such as the UC's, University of Michigan, Notre Dame, Carleton, etc. (ie. one level of selectivity lower than HYPSM).</p>
<p>Adcoms, even at the most selective colleges, expect 6-8 APs. After that, the benefits for admission drop off sharply. You’re not supposed to “stockpile” APs. If you have reached AP level junior year, you should try and take the next level through dual enrollment, if at all possible. For example, if you took Calc BC, you should try to take Calc3, not AP Stats. If you took APUSH and AP Euro, you should take a 2nd year level history class at the community college. Etc. In addition, you can use your course choice to show direction (ie., in the examples above, you would show commitment to a STEM major or to a Humanities major.)
So your plan sounds reasonable. In fact you could take just 3 APs as long as you take 2 dual enrollment classes and come ahead of someone who “stockpiled” random APs.</p>
Sorry MYOS1634, but the advice you are giving is inaccurate!</p>
<p>The better and more correct response is that selective colleges (HYPSM et al) expect students to take the most demanding course load available at their high school, especially during your senior year. If the majority of college bound seniors at your high school are taking 6 AP’s their senior year, and if you take 3 or 4 AP’s, the rigor of your course schedule might NOT be the same as those other students. And your guidance counselor might give those other students a rating of “Most Demanding” and rate your course load as “Very Demanding” or “Demanding.” Selective colleges are seeking students who are rated by their guidance counselor as taking the “Most Demanding” course schedule available at their high school. Bottom line: Do not take anyone’s word for it on CC, not even mine. Ask your GC for their advice, as they must rate the rigor of your course load when filling out the Secondary School Report (SSR). See the top section of page 2 – especially the top right hand section on page 2 – of the SSR: <a href=“http://www.ugadm.northwestern.edu/documents/UG_Admissions_SecondarySchoolReport.pdf”>http://www.ugadm.northwestern.edu/documents/UG_Admissions_SecondarySchoolReport.pdf</a> </p>
<p>Gibby, that’s not true… That legend is why some kids are stressed beyond reason, taking 10, 12, 15 AP’s in their high school career, often just because the classes are offered, without any coherent plan. That doesn’t serve them especially well and compared to a student who shows an ability to schedule, it may even work against them.
This legend creates overworked kids like the one who was lamenting taking 10 APs when others were taking 15 at his school and afraid of having a schedule considered “not rigorous enough”…
“Most rigorous” doesn’t mean “stockpiling AP’s”. Top (tippy top) colleges want to see challenges and it doesn’t mean taking every AP offered at the school. Seriously. It doesn’t.
What really matters, after a certain number of AP’s, is to take the NEXT LEVEL if possible (if not possible, see if an independent study at that level, or online course, can be arranged.) And, if possible, the next level after that in one subject (again, if it’s available.) It’s not always possible but the student should show they’ve tried. After 6-10 APs, the schedule should look like an actual academic plan, presenting a good picture of what the student hopes to major in and what the students loves to learn. There should always be at least one class junior and/or senior year that the student is passionate about. (In some essays, s/he’ll be asked about it. In interviews, s/he is likely to be asked about classes, including a favorite one, and while the answer is easy to fake, it’s always better to be genuinely enthusiastic-about-a subject rather than sounding coached.)
A counselor who sees 10 APs and doesn’t rate the student as having taken the “most rigorous” curriculum makes adcoms roll their eyes. A counselor who doesn’t rate a student with a total of 10 APs and 2-3 dual enrollement classes as “most rigorous” needs to work in another school for a while and gain perspective. The best prep schools don’t even offer AP and that doesn’t matter. What matters is course rigor, passion for learning, and ability to think of one’s education as a self directed, multi-element project rather than as a series of boxes to check. Course rigor can manifest itself in many ways. AP is only one of them.
Adcoms want to see the most rigorous schedule but they define that within reason. </p>
We’re going to have to agree to disagree. My kids attended a very well known large (850+) public high school that offered 31 AP’s, and the GC’s rated those kids that took more AP’s – and scored 5’s on the tests – as having the “Most Demanding” schedule. All other students were ranked lower. And college’s took the word of the high school’s college office and respected the internal rankings, which is why one-half of each graduating class ended up at the ivies and little ivies! Yes, it makes for a stressful high school experience, which is why my kids now find Harvard and Yale to be easier than their high school.</p>
<p>GCs should NEVER, EVER take AP test results into account when determining a student’s course rigor. Any GC that ever did that to my kid would have the wrath of me, my wife, and every parent I could muster, until they were drummed out of the school. Test results have absolutely NOTHING to do with how rigorous a course load is.</p>
<p>However, every student should be able to consult with their GC and ask what constitutes a “Most Demanding” ranking and plan accordingly. Get their blessing, then hold them to it.</p>
<p>Obviously, different high schools, and different counselors at the same high school, may have different criteria for what counts as the “most demanding” course selection. So ask – a reasonable counselor should give you an idea of what it takes.</p>
<p>But note that not all AP courses and tests are similar in rigor. A holistic reviewer at a college might prefer to see a set of AP courses that include those in core subjects (English literature, calculus BC, etc.) over a larger set of mostly “AP lite” courses (psychology, human geography, environmental science, etc.)</p>
<p>@Gibby: your school is not in any way typical so what happened there does not apply to kids in general… In fact it doesn’t even strictly apply to your school: the guidance counselors’ word is not taken at face value, but humored, because the school is high-performing and many if not most kids will be near-full to full pays. In addition, the high-pressure environment is what parents expect and it adds cachet to the school, so why not?
But it’s not representative and shouldn’t be used as an example for a student on CC who, as far as we know, isn’t at your kids’ school.
You are correct however that the “most demanding” line should be ticked. But if the counselor does not check it for 10+APs, even if the school has 31, trust me, that doesn’t keep admission counselors at highly selective colleges to see that the applicant’s curriculum was most demanding.
If the kids got into so many “prestigious” schools, it isn’t because they took every AP under the sun but because of a combination of factors; in addition, I’m fairly sure (as in, willing to bet) many of the kids who took 6-8APs and thus wouldn’t get into the “most rigorous” category according to your guidance counselor, but had dual enrollment as described above, got into those schools at the same or better rate than those with the “every AP”’ strategy. If you find the data, look into it. Or we can agree to disagree, since your kids made it and didn’t/won’t suffer from the misconception.</p>
<p>Some schools have no APs and so the number of APs one takes is not really a guide. OTOH, what gibby is stating is correct - the flag on your counselor’s letter is what matters. So it is not necessarily what you have done or did but what your counselors perceive the most rigorous curriculum in your school is. </p>
<p>It’s been my experience that college admission offices rely and trust their high school colleagues in the guidance department and faculty to give them an honest assessment of where a student stands in the pecking-order. Each GC and teacher make judgements based upon their own criteria, but colleges do take them at face value.</p>
<p>Of course, it depends on the college. Many colleges* do not rely on recommendations; trust in the high schools is based on assuming that the grades and class rank (whichever is used, or both) can be relied on (though the use of test scores implies that the colleges do not think that high school courses and grades are uniform).</p>
<p>*E.g. all public colleges and universities in California.</p>
<p>This has been interesting reading back and forth. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer for every student or every high school or every college. I think talking with your guidance counselor is the right way to go. You also have to be able to “explain” yourself. I disagree that just because you took an AP level course in junior year, this now means that you have to take another AP level in that same subject or move up to a college-level course at a CC. That is absolutely nuts. You should be taking classes that are interesting while balancing it with a rigorous course curriculum, and you are presuming that an AP class is always harder than a regular course. And this is simply not true at my kids’ high school. Some of our toughest courses (both in homework load and in grades given) are non-APs. Our high school no longer offers APUSH because it was simply too much memorization/spit out repetitive stuff and this went against our school’s philosophy. My D took AP English Comp her junior year but then took regular English 12 her senior year, because she was taking AP Spanish Lit her senior year (AP Span her junior year). Our school also caps seniors at 4 APs, so our daughter simply could not take AP Engl (she had AP Bio, AP Calc, AP Span Lit and AP Human Geo). She explained this in her “Other Info” section of the Common App. It all worked out as she got into her ED school.</p>