Choose your high school classes
It’s that time of year again; time to choose classes for next year. High school students are faced with hundreds of potential classes they can take, ranging from Regular/College Prep (CP) to Advanced Placement (AP). There are so many options. EVERY student is faced with the choice of taking one class or another, and this often makes choosing classes a difficult task.
So what classes should I take? – The answer is pretty simple; take the most challenging classes of what you like/are good at. For some students this will mean taking 6 AP classes, while for others this advice translates to regular classes. Colleges like students to take challenging classes, but a few AP/Honors classes are more than enough to meet that requirement. At the same time, however, taking too many college prep classes will lessen a student’s competitive advantage over other students. There are so many high school students right now who are taking 5 or 6 AP classes (in a year) that it’s essential that everyone has a few to demonstrate college proficiency. Too many AP classes in a year are overkill in my opinion, but my motto is “whatever floats your boat.” The thing with AP that many students forget/overlook is that many colleges will only accept up to a certain number of classes 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 classes isn’t going to be as well-rounded as someone who takes 3 or 4. AP students are always short on time, that comes with the title, as I explained . in a previous article on my site (The AP Student). 6 AP classes = no life but school.
So what if I need to take an AP class? — Take the subjects that you like the most and you are thinking of studying at the university. If a student absolutely hates math (like me), then taking AP or even honors math is not necessary. Although it will look better on college applications to take a higher level of math, students shouldn’t take it just to look better. Colleges would rather have happy students who study what they like to study than depressed, overworked students who just take classes to look good. Another factor to consider is the number of other AP classes a student will take the following year. An AP class by itself isn’t much extra work (unless it’s AP Chem*), but multiple classes can really add up. (*I have a personal complaint against 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.) Where it gets tricky is once a student has 3 AP classes in a year. From here on out, students really need to prioritize and better know what they’re getting into. In short, students should take the AP classes they think they will enjoy.
There is also the dilemma of which class looks 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 to get into a good university. 4 years of each would be optimal, but 3 years of language arts, science, and history will suffice. Colleges like to see progress in each subject and sticking with a subject shows dedication. To find out the specific requirements of the university you want to attend, check the admissions page on its main website.
In short, students should choose the classes they enjoy or think they will enjoy the most. They should take some AP classes to be able to compete with everyone else in the country, but only up to a point. 6 AP classes is too many IMHO. However, the most important thing is to have fun in high school; don’t kill yourself with hard classes. High school is only 4 years, so make the most of it!