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Picking Your High School Classes
It’s that time of year again; it’s time to choose the courses for next year. High school students are faced with hundreds of potential courses they can take, ranging from college prep/regular (CP) to advanced placement (AP). There are so many choices. EVERY student is faced with the choice of taking one course or another, which often makes choosing courses difficult.
So what classes should I take?? – The answer is quite simple; take the toughest classes in what you love/do well. For some students, this will mean taking 6 AP classes, while for others this advice will mean regular classes. Colleges like to see students take challenging courses, but a few AP/honours courses are more than enough to meet this requirement. At the same time, however, taking many college prep courses will reduce a student’s competitive advantage over other students. There are so many high school students right now taking 5 or 6 AP courses (in a year), that it’s essential that everyone has a few to show off college proficiency. In my opinion, many AP classes in a year is overkill, but my motto is “whatever floats your boat”. The thing about PA that many students forget/overlook is that many colleges will only accept a certain number of courses for additional credit or GPA points. The UC (University of California) system, for example, only accepts a maximum of 8 AP classes. So why take more than that? Honestly, colleges like to see well-rounded people, and someone who takes 6 AP courses won’t be as well rounded as someone who takes 3 or 4. AP students are always short on time, it comes with the title , as I explained in a previous article on my site (The AP Student). 6 AP classes = no life other than school.
So what should I take if AP classes? — Choose the subjects that you like the most and that you plan to study at university. If a student absolutely hates math (as I do), there is no need to take AP or even honors in math. While it’s best for college applicants to take higher-level math courses, students shouldn’t take it just to look better. Colleges would rather have happy students studying what they love to study than depressed, overworked students who only take classes to look good. Another factor to consider is the number of other AP courses a student will take the following year. An AP class on its own isn’t much extra work (unless it’s AP Chem*), but multiple classes can really add up. (*I have a personal gripe with AP Chem because of a bad teacher who made me learn everything on my own. AP Chem is NOT a fun class to learn just from a book.) When it gets tough is once a student has 3 AP classes in a year. From now on, students really have to prioritize and they better know what they’re getting into. So, in short, students should take the AP courses they think they enjoy.
There is also the dilemma of which class is best for college. Students must take 4 years of math, 4 years of English, 3-4 years of language, 3-4 years of science and 3-4 years of history in order to get into a good university. 4 years of each would be optimal, but 3 years of language, science and history will suffice. Colleges like to see progress in each subject and sticking to one subject shows dedication. To find out the specific requirements of the college you want to go to, check the admissions page on their main website.
In summary, students should choose the courses they enjoy or think they will enjoy the most. They should take a few AP classes so they can compete with everyone else in the country, but only up to a point. 6 AP classes is way too much in my humble opinion. But the most important thing is to have fun in high school; don’t kill yourself with hard lessons. High school is only 4 years old so make the most of it!
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