Political Science or Government Major course planning for a sophomore

My daughter is a sophomore. she is planning to major in Political Science or government related courses. She is currently taking APUSH, PRE-CALC and AP BIO. She is ok with APUSH but definitely struggling with BIO. She is planning to take AP CALC AB, AP MICRO/MACRO, AP GOVT, AP LANG and some Physics next year in junior year. Also planning to do some political science related introductory courses for dual enrollment in Summer. Our school doesn’t offer AP Env Science.

  1. If she wants to go to top colleges, does she really have to do AP Physics 1 or just regular Phy 1 and 2 (not AP or Honors, school only offers regular Physics and AP no honors) is ok? Does she have to take another science course in senior year also? She has already 3 years of science courses (regular Biology, chemistry and AP BIO). I understand that top colleges have highly talented kids in both sciences and humanities but we feel Science is not her thing. Please help.

  2. As she is not doing that well with AP BIO, we’re thinking she shouldn’t take AP exam this year instead just focus on APUSH and get a 5. What is your advice?

  1. Regular physics or honors physics is fine. AP not necessary. If she will have 4 credits in science, a 5th is not needed.

  2. Personal decision. Obviously the priority is doing well in the course. It’s fine to forgo the AP exam, but personally, I would take unless she is totally overwhelmed by the practice exams. In that case, she should allocate her time to maximize ROI.

In terms of another AP Science vs regular, if we are talking the tippy top schools, the question will be if her GC will still check off the “most rigorous box” based on the totality of all the classes she will have taken. Taking a regular vs an AP class in one subject by itself will probably be ok, but I’d still map out anticipated junior and senior year courses with the GC. Also, will your daughter have gotten to at least level 3 (preferably level 4) of a foreign language by senior year if it is offered in your school? Check the foreign language recommendations of your targeted schools.

My D22 is a future poly sci/public policy major and is taking 5 core subjects as part of her course load each year. (AP Calculus last year) This year she is taking AP stats and loves it - very relevant to what she is interested in and what she will be taking in college. Highly recommend. Does your D have relevant ECs? Maybe campaign work/internship as opposed to another class in the summer?

Thank you @skieurope , @BKSquared and @Southoftheriver for all your responses! I am trying to answer all your questions.

@skieurope , Thanks for the Physics suggestion. I think she currently has B- and is definitely struggling. I am not sure without much if she can at least get a 3 in AP exam. Of course, it’s too early to decide.

@BKSquared , Thank you! Yes, it’s definitely a rigorous school. The schools offers 26 APs including 3 foreign languages. My daughter will be completing Spanish 3 and also taking ASL 1 this year. She is also getting credit for 2 years of south asian language through some other program for which the lot of US schools recognized and giving credit (not sure how much value it adds though). She did Spanish 2 online last year because of COVID so doesn’t feel that comfortable taking AP Spanish. Is that OK?

@Southoftheriver, Thank you and would like to be in touch to know more about experience. This year she started volunteering for city council member for canvassing and preparing postal cards every weekend. She also participated in IR summer camp and is now recently selected to be an ambassador for that program, has been tutoring underprivileged kids since 9th grade but was bit disturbed last year due to COVID and she is back on track. She also signed up for volunteering at a local History museum as part of an Youth program offered by the museum in Summer but even that got delayed due to COVID and they are starting that from next month. She is trying to get a job with an attorney through school but nothing finalized. Currently she eventually wants to pursue Law and become an attorney. Do you have any further advice to improve her profile to be competitive for these programs? Can I know more about your daughter? She is planning the following course work for junior year.

AP Calculus AB
AP Language and Composition
AP Government
Physics 1/2
AP Macro/Micro
Blended Honors Financial Accounting (any alternatives, couldn’t find anything better)

Planning to do Introduction to American Politics and World History (school doesn’t offer AP world Hist) as dual enrollment in this Summer.

Sounds like she’s doing great. Focus on impact and what she likes doing. Quality over quantity.

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I was not referring to the rigor of the school. When the GC fills out his/her report as part of your daughter’s application package, it will include a question on the level of rigor of classes that your daughter took. I believe it is a check the box type of question where you want the GC to indicate that your daughter took the highest level. Highest level does not mean she has to take the highest level in every subject matter. You/your daughter just needs to have a session with your GC to see where she stands.

On languages, you need to check by targeted school. Some only recommend 3 or less, others 4. They may also have different views/policies on native speakers who tested out or took classes out of school for their native language.


Is the South Asian language a heritage language? Are the 2 years “HS” or college? (4 semesters of college language = HS level 4) If not, is there a way for her to continue the program and reach level 3 or 4 in it?
Reaching Level 4 would be good, especially since she’s likely to need proficiency in foreign languages in college (and likely 1 or 2 required at high proficiency for grad school in poli sci, but not necessary for law*) - see if there’s a critical language flagship for that language BTW, those poli-sci graduates are well recruited!
On the other hand, Level 3 in Spanish+Level 2 in South Asian Language + 2 years of ASL won’t be as good as one of those at Level 4 (or, Level 4 in SA language+ Level 3 Spanish + ASL).

Regular Physics is 100% Ok and if she has Bio, chem, phys, AP bio she’s done with science.

Does her school offer AP European History? AP Comp Gov? (Or a way to take either one/n equivalent?)

AP Stats senior year would be a good math choice.

*Could be interesting to do a semester abroad at a Scottish university that offers Scottish and English La AND allows exchange students to register for or audit a 1st year law class or at a Canadian university that allows the same (common law, “code” civil law). Not many do but would be a good experience for a future law student – in parts of Canada or Scotland law can be studied at undergrad level. Worth emailing the International office at mny colleges in consideration (including safeties&likelies) to ask whether this study abroad option is available.

@MYOS1634 , Thanks for your detailed response! She did the South Asian Language starting from 6th grade but the way program is designed is you get credit only for 2 years. She is not comfortable doing AP Spanish. Our school offers ASL only Level 1 and 2 and the students have to do dual enrollment in a local for higher levels. She is planning to do ASL 3 and 4 at a local college. How do people consider ASL for these courses? Is that a true FL?

Our school offers both AP Euro and AP GOV and she is planning to do both in 11th and 12th. She probably will do World at a local college.

Any further recommendations?

ASL is not a foreign language but reaching level 4 will be considered rigorous - what matters is engaging with complex material that “stretched the brain” and opened her eyes to another culture.
See if the college offers classes in the South Asian language

She can try and take an Intro to Philosophy freshman class and an intro to political science class at the local college (preferably something different from her APs).

@MYOS1634 , thank you so much for the advice! She’s planning to take to take intro yo political science but we never thought about intro to philosophy. That’s good to know. I will pass this to my daughter.

Doing college level south asian language is extremely difficult unless they grow in that culture. They are usually focused more on heritage and the poetry.

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