Preparing for College

Calculus at Community College or AP Calc at High School?

Question: My son is a high school sophomore and had been planning to take AP Calculus at his high school in the fall. However, he learned from a college advisor/family friend that taking the course at a community college might be more challenging and interesting for him. He is excited about doing this and we will enroll him in the local community college for the fall. Will taking Calculus at a community college do more for him in terms of college admissions than taking AP Calc in high school? AP Calc and AP Stats are the top math classes at our high school. He is interested in applying to a number of highly selective colleges and thinks he wants to be an engineer.

Admission officials do indeed like to see that students have challenged themselves, and this often includes taking college-level classes while still in high school. BUT ... (and I bet you could tell that a "but" was coming :) ), not all college classes are created equal. At some community colleges, the calculus class may not be as demanding as a high school AP course. Admission officials may, in fact, wonder why your son took this particular class outside of his high school. Was he fearful of the high school AP class? Was he not admitted to the high school AP class? So your plan to impress the admission folks may backfire unless it's made clear to them that the college course was selected for its rigor.

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