Strongest Courseload?

<p>I keep reading kids' stats, stating that the are taking the "strongest courseload available" at their high school. And then it turns out they've taken a grand total of like 4-6 AP's all throughout high school. What's going on? That's an average courseload at my high school and not even close to the average HYPMS'er.</p>

<p>Take me, for example. By the end of high school, I'll have 23 semesters of AP done (sophomore->senior; none taken freshman year) AND about two years of math past Calculus BC, giving me..well..the equivalent of a lot of college credit. This would truly be a "most rigorous couseload" at my school (of about 800-900 people per class). Well, I mean, it's probably the most rigorous courseload attempted in the past few years, but still--the point is, how rigorous is your "strongest courseload?" </p>

<p>I'd feel terrible if all that work were considered the equivalent of some kid's school's "strongest courseload" that consists of 10 semesters of AP and a few honors classes in admissions.</p>

<p>Let me tell you the truth:</p>

<p>The strongest courseload for each school varies. Thats a no-brainer. Adcoms are looking to see how many resources you used up with the potential you had. This differs from school to school because the amount of resources available like AP courses differs. You're courseload of AP's will look pretty similar to a URM who had only 3 AP's offered, all of which he/she took. But what did you do besides the AP's that went beyond your resources offered at your school? You took classes beyone AP Calculus BC, probably offered at a local university. And what did the URM do? Almost all URM's are given the opportunity to take classes at a local university. There are lots of community colleges around the area and if the URM was smart, the school would certainly allow him/her to take advanced courses not offered at his High School. But if he/she didn't do this, she would be at a disadvantage compared to people like you. Basically, the adcom's most influential factor is how you used the resources given to you. And if you believed that you made pretty good use of them, like taking college courses or summer school courses or internships or projects, then adcoms will see that and will put you above the URM's. Plus, the majority of applicants who attend harvard and other big IVY league schools are rich. And rich people tend to attend schools that offer more AP's and will be comparable to you, schedule-wise and school-wise. The majority of the people you will be compared against, and the overwhelming majority that is, like 90% of the applicants, will be people coming from similar backgrounds like you. I come from a similar background too!</p>

<p>Example: At a summer program, I met a kid who lives in Russia, Ohio (pronounced Rooshie, not like the former Soviet state). Anyway, it's a big farming community in the middle of nowhere. His CLASS is about 26 kids... his entire school only about 100. They have one math teacher, for the entire high school! Now, this kid wasn't all that academically motivated... but even if he had been, he wouldnt' have 17 APs. Self-studying would be an option, but that's something many people never would think of (I know his GC wouldn't have recommended it), and its questionable how colleges look on it anyway.</p>

<p>I'm still not exactly sure what to make of the tone of your post--are you feeling bad for these kids who don't have the opportunity to challenge themselves?</p>

<p>No, I'm basically wondering about the higher class vs. lower class debate that's been going on since the beginning of this forum. </p>

<p>Just because I had the opportunity, do I have to work three times as hard as someone who didn't? Just because the school doesn't offer rigor, there's no penalization--whereas if a school offers about 15 AP's, you're expected to take the majority of them?</p>

<p>It's a tough question. Clearly there's a level of APs offered where they can't expect one person to take them all. I think it's often looked at in context of other students, with the help of the school report... but rather than resulting in, say, every kid picking their 8 AP classes and being equal, it more likely leads to brinksmanship ("if i can take one more AP, look at how much I can stand out!"). I think that dilemma is why some of the most competitive schools (exeter, choate) don't offer all that many APs.</p>

<p>On the other side of the spectrum, I believe that the adcoms really have a sense of which rural/disadvantaged kids are special + will thrive if given the resources. Test scores help, as do essays and the like. Even if you look at admissions as meritocratic (which in many ways they aren't, of course, with legacies and the like), there are still two types of "merit": accomplishments and intelligence/potential. I'm losing my train of thought... post back so I can have something to talk against.</p>

<p>I think in the long run, if you've taken all the APs that you have, you'll be more prepared for college than the kids that didn't have the opportunity. So no, I don't think that just because you had the opportunity does it mean that you have to work three times as hard. You're probably better off.</p>

<p>took/taking 8 AP's...most taken by anyone at my school in recent years</p>

<p>I will have taken 13 APs by the end of senior year. Courseload tough enough?</p>

<p>yeah, at my school you cant even take APs untill you're a junior. Also, i dont think colleges want to see you gobble up APs like m&ms, its probly better if u just take APs in the areas you're interested in.</p>

<p>Thats true tobsta. I agree with you. Just like everything else elite colleges look for, they want to see that you are focused, not just taking 15 Ap's in random subjects, not really focused in on certain key areas. I think this will hurt you if you are asked a question like "why did you take this Ap, or this other Ap, and what will this do to further your career in the direction you plan to head in?"</p>

<p>Yeah...I took AP History last year, and am taking AP calc, physics, english, government, and statistics. Thats only 6 AP total, the most my school has. To supplment this, I've taken a few Community college classes and got a scholarship to take Economics at Lehigh University. Still, it may not be like 20 AP's, but its the best a student can possibly do. Most people don't have the extra money to shell out for self-study materials and such either.</p>

<p>I think you'll be better off since you've taken so many hard classes.</p>

<p>agree with the last few posts.
something is wrong if the only reason you take APs is so that they'd look good on your transcript... you should feel fortunate because you'd be much better prepared by the time you get to college... instead of feeling horrible that you have to do a lot more work.</p>

<p>and do NOT whine about taking a few hard classes. A) you are the one who brought it upon yourself, and B) if you think it's too much, then don't apply to Harvard at all since you'll get nothing but hard work.</p>

<p>Nobody ever said anything about taking APs solely to look good on a transcript. I take APs because the alternative is terrible: boring, menial, unchallenging work. At least with AP, the curriculum is somewhat solid and challenging. Also, AP teachers tend to be better and more knowledgable.</p>

<p>I never said it was too much; I know that I complain sometimes about the workload, but I know I'd hate the alternative more (not having enough to do). Take this scenario:</p>

<p>You work hard at..tapdancing. You are your state's best tapdancer and represented your region in the National Tapdancing Tournament of Tapdancedom. You're not doing it so you have something on your ECs section; you genuinely like tapdancing. But how would you feel if the adcom dismissed your ten-year commitment to tapdancing because not everyone has the same opportunities to tapdance?</p>

<p>That's how I feel about this coursework rigor sometimes. Just because I go to a more rigorous, better high school, I have to work harder than someone who goes to Podunktown High School and has never even heard of AP/IB?</p>

<p>whatever i think it balances out. consider all the opportunities that you've had. you're likely to be a more enriched and well-rounded individual as a result of your hard work, and that will carry through in every other part of your application. i'm sure the kid who is not being challenged enough would give anything to be in your shoes, so i don't see why you would envy that kid. i like to think that they are fairly good at differentiating between untapped potential and plain lack of drive.</p>

<p>Every year my school sends a healthy amount of students to HYPSM. Generally, these students have taken no more than 8 AP classes. Most high schools send a pamphlet explaining the courses provided by the school to universities along with a students application, which clears up the "hardest course load" issue.</p>

<p>Ubercollege-Thanks for getting us back to the point. I like your analogy, but I disagree with it. I think a more apt one would be like this. You are a national champion tapdancer, as a result of going to the best tapdancing school in the world since you were old enough to tapdance (let's say for the purpose of irrelevance, when you were 4 years old). Also applying to, uhh, Harvard? is another tap dancer. This one comes from Podunkville USA, and has only been tap dancing since he was 10, and is not close to you technically. However, he was entirely self-taught, put on a tap dance concert that all of Podunkville attended, and has begun teaching other Podunkvillians to tap dance. Clearly you are the "better" tap dancer, but which one of you deserves to go to Harvard?</p>

<p>I think my analogy is better, because kids from podunk schools who just get A's and do little else are NOT competitive at Harvard. They have to make the most of their surroundings, just like you do at your competitive school.</p>

<p>JFM-I agree that your analogy has its merits and is more accurate than mine, but it dismisses one crucial point that I'm trying to make--where does an adcom draw the line between the two extremes? How does an adcom balance the two factors, surroundings and accomplishments? </p>

<p>Sure, taking all five AP's at Podunkville High is more impressive than taking six AP's of 16 at Ivyprep High, but is it more impressive than eight AP's at Ivyprep? Ten? Twelve?</p>

<p>I think you're overemphasizing the value of APs and trying to quantify the admissions process. The process is wholistic, and the point I was trying to make is that Podunk kids are going to have to do more outside of the classroom to get admitted-3 APs aren't enough. You, for example, might get into Harvard based purely on your academic record (Yale, for example, says they accept around 200 kids a year based purely on their academics + test scores). I think you might also have a somewhat distorted view of APs. I don't think most true Podunk Highs have even 5 APs. Many have none, and of the ones that do have some, many have < 3. I don't have stats or anything, but I know a few Podunkians :-P.</p>

<p>When it comes to ECs, the situation is almost reversed. The kid at Podunk High might feel obligated to be president of everything because he is able to do so. ECs at Ivyprep are incredibly demanding, so Joe Ivyprep might be limited to 1 or 2 clubs. This analogy of course isn't perfect... APs at Podunk aren't harder than APs at Ivyprep, but I think it still has some relevance.</p>

<p>Oh, and to give some background. I'll have taken 7/14 APs at my school (although of the ones I haven't taken, only Comp Sci was really a possibility). ECwise, I feel a little "Podunkian."</p>

<p>Nice analogy, JFM</p>

<p>also, like people have been saying, i dont think its the number of APs that they look at, but what APs you actually take. If an AP is offered in the area you want to major in, it would be bad if u didnt take it. If you wanna be an enginner, and your school offers AP Lit, which you didnt take, I dont think they're going to hold it against u, but if could have taken AP Physics, and instead took like, applied physics to daily life, a class which is known to be a slacker course, than they're gonna be a little dissappointed.</p>