Preparing for College

Choosing Courses: AP or More Language?

Question: I was planning to take AP Physics next semester, but if I do, I will not be able to take French II because of scheduling conflicts. I have taken three years of Latin already (though only two are shown on my transcript for some reason), and one year of French. I am planning to take at least three AP classes next year, but I need to know whether admission officers at highly competitive colleges will look down on me if I take AP Physics and have only taken three years of Latin and one of French.

This is a good question, and while there is no “right” answer, AP Physics is one of those classes that makes admission folks sit up, take notice, and look favorably upon those who tackle it. You have had a solid background in Latin already, so we advise that you go with the physics. When you submit your applications, we also suggest that you enclose a very brief note explaining what you have told us about having to choose between AP Physics and French II. That way, the colleges won’t wonder why you didn’t follow through with French. You should also point out that you did have three years of Latin, in case it isn’t clear from your transcript. This sort of confusion tends to happen when a student takes that first year of Latin in eighth grade. Perhaps that was the case with you.

If you’ve enjoyed French and are sorry to give it up, you might want to consider enrolling in a community college class, summer program, or a distance-learning course. (That’s where you study at home via the Internet. Public libraries usually have directories of distance-learning opportunities, if you need more information.) You would still explain to admission officers that you couldn’t take the French class at school due to the schedule conflict, and then they will be even more impressed that you pursued this enrichment opportunity outside of school in addition to electing the AP Physics.

Best of luck to you as you continue making your plans.