I have been talking to quite a few high school students and parents lately and one common concern is whether the student is taking enough AP classes. Today I will be discussing the reasoning behind taking an AP class and whether there is a magic number of AP classes behind each successful student.
What is the Point of Taking an AP Class?
The original intent of AP classes was to expose the student to more rigorous coursework, similar to what would be found in college. Taking the AP exam and scoring above a 3 may qualify a student for college credit. Of course, this is dependent on the subject and the school. I was able to get rid of quite a few college requirements with a couple AP classes and my sister was able to graduate a year early partially because of her AP credit.
Taking AP classes also demonstrates that you are able to keep up with a competitive course structure. Colleges like AP’s because they are a formidable challenge for high school students and prepare them for college work. Make sure you take your AP classes seriously because slacking off will not only impact your grade, but also leave you unprepared for your next chapter.
What is the Magic Number?
Honestly, there is no magic number. Of course you should aim to take the maximum amount offered by your school, but there are limits to everything. There is no reason you should overload yourself with coursework, as well as all the other activities are you involved in. That leads to students getting burned out before reaching college.
Take as many as you can. If your school offers 5 or 6, you should probably take all of them. But if your school offers 10+, you may want to exercise some discretion. Colleges are aware of how many your school offers. It is not an issue if your school does not offer that many, but you should be taking as many opportunities as you can manage.
Focus on Your Passions
Make sure you take AP classes in the subjects that you like. it does not make sense to forgo taking AP Chemistry because of AP English if you plan to go into Chemical Engineering. Chances are you enjoy and excel in AP Chemistry. Ideally you would take both, but if you have to choose one, always pick the one that most closely fits your desired field of study. No subject is inherently better than the other, every subject and every student has their strengths and weaknesses.
Know Your Limits
The most important thing is not stressing yourself out. Mental health is a huge concern amongst high schoolers, especially as college admissions has become increasingly competitive. You want to strive to be the best version of yourself, not the best student ever. Be careful, especially if your school has notoriously difficult AP courses. Maximize on opportunities but understand how far you can stretch. Then do well in your regular classes as well. And always remember to ask for help when you need it. Your teachers, parents, friend, and counselors are there to help you out.