Admissions

Physics or Double History for Rising Senior?

Question: In registering for my senior year classes I am debating whether to take two AP history courses and dropping my science class, or whether to take Physics I and only one AP history course. I hope to go into history related studies in college. When potential schools are looking at my transcripts which would look better, a more well rounded schedule or more AP classes?

In order to answer this truly responsibly, “The Dean” would need to see your overall transcript (all the classes you’ve taken so far and the grades you’ve earned) and also have a rough idea of the colleges you want to attend.

However, responding in a vacuum as I am, my reply (unfortunately) is that you should go with the physics + one AP history class … if you’re aiming for highly selective colleges. If, however, your top-choice schools are those that accept at least as many applicants as they reject (and if you think you’re a reasonably strong candidate for each) and if you’ve taken a lab science every year so far, then follow your heart and opt for the double history. Also, if your senior course line-up includes another heavy-hitter quantitative course (I have AP Calc in mind), then you might dump the physics (again, depending on the other sciences on your transcript). What you want to avoid is a course roster that’s entirely skewed toward humanities with no challenging math or science on it at all, even if it does include an extra AP.


It pains me to repeatedly tell students to forgo their passions in order to elect the classes that “look best” on applications. But I’m commonly asked to view a transcript through an admission-officer’s lens and not through my own. So, in this case, unless your favorite colleges are “Realistic” or “Safe,” I’d have to cast my vote for the physics, at least based on the information that I have here.

Good luck, whatever you decide.