Is Physics Really Necessary?

Question: Is physics really necessary if my daughter (a high school sophomore)  is better at AP Bio? It’s the only AP she thinks she can do well, and she has no other “rigor”. The counselors say colleges like to see physics but we thought she could take it senior year if really necessary. She is not a STEM.

 Plus, since she is at a well-known college prep school, don’t they realize the entire school has more rigor than other schools? What if she ends up with only one AP class?

Assuming that your daughter’s high school offers multiple AP classes, then having just one AP on her transcript will probably not make her a candidate for the more selective colleges. These institutions are looking for candidates who have challenged themselves academically and whose guidance counselors indicate on their applications that they have taken the “Most Demanding” course load available to them or at least a “Very Demanding” load.

So …  if your daughter is not aiming for those uber-competitive places that turn away far more applicants than they admit, the lack of physics on her transcript shouldn’t hurt her, as long as biology isn’t the onlyscience she has taken. (Most colleges expect to see at least two lab sciences on a transcript and preferably at least one additional science class … lab or otherwise).

Admission officials should be aware of the built-in “rigor” at your daughter’s school, even if her transcript is not rife with AP’s. Yet do note that, regardless of whether or not she takes physics, if many of her classmates are electing multiple AP classes and your daughter isn’t, this will limit her college options to some extent because her counselor will probably call her course load “Demanding” or even “Average” rather than “Most” or “Very” Demanding.  However, if your daughter’s grades are strong and her school is well-regarded, she should still have plenty of great choices.