Preparing for College

How Many APs?

Question: I was wondering if NOT taking an AP when it is offered will hurt you when you are applying to college. Next year I will be a junior and taking a tough course load, all honors classes and 1 AP-- U.S. History. There are 2 AP classes offered at my school for juniors: AP Chemistry and AP U.S. History. However, I decided not to take AP Chemistry because I don't think I'm ready for that at this stage in the game. I am taking honors chemistry, and I figured out if I get an A+ in that, it will be equal to a B in AP chemistry (most students at my school who take that class do poorer than that anyway). Will this count against me if I decide to apply to highly selective schools? I partially made my decision because I didn't want to mess up my grade point average or class ranking. Thanks!!

You won't be penalized for not taking a particular AP course. In fact, a recent national news article reported that top colleges are considering many honors courses in a very favorable light. It's just not necessary to commit academic suicide just for the sake of maximum APs on your schedule.

However, keep in mind that the #1 criterion upon which you will be evaluated in the admissions process will be how well you did in a highly challenging curriculum. It sounds to me like you will be engaging a highly challenging curriculum, so you shouldn't have a problem building a convincing case for your applications.

One last caveat: Don't play it too conservative just to protect your GPA. It won't do you too much good if you're in the top 5% of your graduating class if you don't have a reasonable number of APs from your school's offerings. I'd suggest that you should have at least three APs your senior year, if your school offers them.