Senior Year Scheduling (Hopeful Engineer Edition)

I have a previous thread explaining the same thing, I just have a more specific question.

I got my schedule for the upcoming academic year, and I’m excited about my classes. My worry is that my focus on STEM will be unappealing to the schools I plan on applying to. Here’s my schedule:

  • AP Comp Sci
  • AP Physics C: Mechanics
  • AP Physics C Extended
  • AP Stats
  • Honors Multivariable Calculus
  • Honors World Literature
  • Gym

I know that liberal arts colleges, like Harvard, prefer a more well-rounded courseload. However, my dream is to get into Duke (Pratt) for engineering. Because Duke has a separate college for engineering, does this mean they don’t penalize for having a mainly-STEM senior schedule? I feel as though them having a separate college for engineers means they like to see early specialization in their students. To give you more background about my previous academic history, I’ve taken an honors English class 9th-10th and then an AP English class 11th. I also took an AP Social Science class 9th-11th, so I feel like I have a pretty solid foundation in those areas of study.

Summary: Would Duke (Pratt) penalize me for my STEM-focused senior courseload? Same question but for other strong engineering schools, like CMU and UMich.

How many years of a Foreign Language have you taken? Does three years of social studies meet graduation requirements? Our HS requires 4 units. Do you have at least one year of Chemistry and Biology?

What is AP Physics C Extended? There’s no such AP course.

I’d recommend trading AP Stats for a History/Social Studies course, but I’m not sure it would matter much to an admissions committee if you already have 3 AP courses in the area. (But it might, and Stats doesn’t do much).

Nothing really stands out as a concern, as long as you have bio, chem, and 3 years of a foreign language covered.

@RichInPitt I’ve taken 3 years of Spanish (still a part of Spanish Honor Society), and I founded a club freshman year where we self-study Korean (Co-President all 4 years). Chicago Public Schools only require 3 years for social sciences.

Sorry, my school does block schedule, so AP Physics C Extended is just Mechanics again. This means that I have AP Physics C Mechanics every day for 1 1/2 hours. Technically, the “extended” portion of the class is just space to do labs. Because the class takes up two periods, the class counts as two separate grades on our report cards.

The reason I’m taking AP Stats is because I heard it was useful for pretty much anything, but I don’t actually know much about it. Also, my school was trying to switch AP Stats over to the social science department instead of the math department because they believe it is an “information science” that does not require much mathematical knowledge (at least in the traditional sense).

For more perspective, my social science classes were AP Human Geo (9th), APUSH (10th), and AP Gov (11th).

Since Duke is a highly competitive school many many applicants will most likely have 4 each of the 5 core subjects (or levels for foreign language).

I don’t see a world history listed and ap human geo does not typically count as a world history. I think taking that and having 4 years of social studies would be a safer bet for you. AP Stats will count as a math elective for many colleges and you can take a calculus based stats in college.

@momtogirls2 My school doesn’t have an AP World History class, so should I take something else instead? The only AP Social Science classes available to me are AP Psychology (it might be full now) and AP Macroeconomics. Thanks!

I wouldn’t overthink this too much. As long as you’ve met your graduation requirements for English, History, Science, and Foreign Language you’re good. I wouldn’t think your acceptance to Duke or other school would hinge on one senior year class (as long as you do well). Schools look for well-rounded students.

I agree with @RichInPitt. I would trade AP Stats for a History or Language. I don’t think my son got credit for AP Stats at Georgia Tech. I don’t think AP Stats moves the needle for admissions.

what does your school offer for world history? It really is okay to take a non AP class if that is what your school offers. Most schools I know personally require a world history class to get a high school diploma and don’t count AP Human Geo for that. We have an honors modern world history option.

Perhaps speak to your school guidance as well as Duke admissions to confirm they do not care that you never took a world history class (remember colleges can have different things they look for vs your school graduation requirements). If they both confirm it go with AP psych or ap economics whichever sounds more interesting to you. My kids chose dual enrollment sociology.

For English if you did fine in AP in 11th why not take AP Lit or AP Language senior year?

@momtogirls2 My school has an honors world history class. You can only take it as a freshman, but I chose to take AP Human Geography instead.

I think I am going to change AP Stats to AP Macro because I just saw that Duke BME doesn’t require a stats class.

I would take AP Lit senior year, but I am scared of taking all AP classes. Also, I’m not the best at English, especially when it comes to reading many books.

So my son went to Northside college prep in Chicago. He is now a senior at Michigan engineering. Don’t worry about what you are taking just take a rigorous but fun course load. Dropping stats for macro to me is a very good choice. He also had multivariate Calc as a senior etc. It shows rigor and ability. No school really cares for Ap stats. It’s a known easy course. Some find it very interesting… Take it at the college level. You don’t need it now. My son found AP courses easier and more interesting. He took 6 senior year with multivariate Calc 3… It was his most interesting year. If your school is all honors now then you should do fine. If not, then maybe don’t overload. He found the honors courses harder then the AP ones… FYI

Dropping AP Stats for Macro seems like the right choice.

My S21 has a similar STEM-focused transcript (lots of AP sciences including multiple physics classes, AP calc BC, Multivariable Calc) and wants to apply to Duke (Pratt). He’ll have 4 years of English and social sciences but is taking honors-level semester courses that he’s interested in senior year, rather than a full year AP course. For example, he’s taking a semester of honors Public Speaking and then a semester of honors Sports Literature, rather than AP English Lit. It seems like he should be taking AP English Lit for that “highest rigor” designation, but he took AP Lang last year and feels like he’ll personally get more out of the public speaking class. Same with Econ and US Government. He could take the full-year AP version of either class, rather than a half year of both so I have no idea how AO’s will view his senior year course load. His GC wasn’t very helpful when registering for classes.

@Knowsstuff Yeah, I wish I was interested in more social sciences. Also, I go to Jones, which barely has any classes, so I feel like I can’t take the courses I want. Should AP Stats be replaced with AP Macro or AP Psych? I feel like I wouldn’t be super interested in either, but I would do well with those classes. Other possible classes include AP Euro and AP Spanish (I don’t think I’d do that well in AP Spanish).

Our S21 is also considering Duke, and maybe engineering. His school requires all 5 core subjects every year, with the exception of a language senior yr if they already took AP level language (it’s a 6-12, so 1st yr is 8th grade).

Last yr, when I asked for advice on S’s schedule, specifically whether to take AP CS or APUSH, I got the advice for him to take APUSH. (He still would have taken history, but to fit in CS, he’d have to take regular history over the summer). People said it’s good for a math kid to show equal ability in humanities.

I am surprised your school doesn’t require history in 12th grade. Check what Duke requires/recommends. You can google it with Princeton review. If they require or recommend 4yrs, AP Euro would give you the 4th history.

Our S decided against AP stats. His school offers an interesting course on logic/probability (which is a college level course but most colleges don’t know what to think of it, per CGO), so he’s taking that. He was told that said stats in college is calc based, but not in HS. Don’t know if that’s the case.

I also don’t understand your physics. AP physics C here is one semester of mechanics and the 2d semester of E&M. I didn’t know schools did a full year of mechanics. Do you need to do that? Can you take something else?

@havenoidea Yeah, we have to take AP Physics C Mechanics for the entire year (same for every class we take). My school also doesn’t offer AP Physics C E&M. I know AP Euro would definitely look better for schools like Harvard and Princeton, so I’m leaning towards that. It’s just that my school offers so little classes, so my decision comes down to which class would look the best instead of which class is the most interesting to me. Duke says they recommend 3 years of social science and foreign language, but I feel like they may want 4 years. The only Pratt-specific requirements/recommendations are calculus and physics (which I will have).

Jones is a great school and because of its ranking locally will mean a lot to the colleges. I know a senior there now and helping her family. Dr. Powers is awesome. (principal)…

Both are good courses. My son took both senior year psy and macro. He loved both. He is combining business with engineering… Which is his intent with Industrial engineering…

Well looks like you got 23 AP classes so that’s alot. For public speaking my son did the AP seminar /research 2 year program. He was not a great writer. After this class he became an awesome writer, it had a public speaking component which was great for him and made first year English a breeze. Plus the research component was harder in high school then at Michigan. Lol…

Anyway, take what excites you the most. He didn’t take the APs to place out. He took it with the idea it was more in depth, which made it more interesting, not harder.

Anyway, Jones is an awesome school so I know your getting educated right!

So people can see the course requirements… 24 credits is a cps requirement except for Northside that requires 4 years of math and science and has a 28 credit (done on purpose) requirement.

@Knowsstuff I just emailed my GC to change AP Stats to AP Psych. Even though it might not be the best looking social science class to some schools, it is the one I’m most interested in. Also, my “Why major?” essay actually relates to some psychology topics, which might make my reasoning for taking the class more apparent to admissions officers.

Thanks, everyone, for the insight!

No one going to care about this class to that extent… Just do well and have a good senior year.

AP statistics is non-calculus-based, so it will not be given subject credit for engineering majors. Engineering majors who need to take statistics will take a calculus-based statistics course.

Yep. My son has taken many. It’s not your dad’s statistic class… Or maybe it is… Hmm… Lol…

I would swap out AP Stats for something else…what about AP Micro/Macro Economics? or some other social studies?

Do you need two AP Physics classes? It is okay to take some physics in college.

For engineering students it is not “Whomever takes the most STEM classes wins”.