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To AP or to not AP

  1. Sep 14, 2009 #1
    I know this is somewhat of a trivial thing, but...

    I've been stuck on deciding whether or not to drop my AP English class. I'm a junior in high school. My GPA is 3.75 overall or 3.70 academic/Calgrant. I'm not exactly sure of my major, but I'm planning on Engineering, if not, something in the IT field. My goal is to get into UC's (or something of that level).

    My schedule this year:

    1. Physics (Boring, unchallenging class, but AP is not an option)
    2. Piano 2 (The class that gets me through the day)
    3. English 3AP (The class in question)
    4. Precalculus/Trigonometry
    5. Engineering (Cal Poly sponsored program)
    6. Chinese 2P (Gotta get my 2 years minimum...)

    Extracurriculars? Not much, but I recently started directing a small film group with the support of the new video production program in my school, and we've released 2 films that created enough hype for people to walk up to me and say "Your film was awesome!", however, we haven't done anything in months since I'm either too busy with schoolwork or too busy dealing with personal issues. Other than, I haven't been in any real clubs or such.

    I know I WILL NOT ace the AP English class. No one walks out of that class with an A unless their work is truly excellent. At best I'll muster a B (Although I'll easily ace a normal English class). Stack this with the fact I spend 3 hours afterschool on Monday and Wednesdays prepping for the SAT's (on practice tests, I score about 1950), I'm worried I'm going to lose all willpower halfway through the year (my morale is pretty low already). What do you think? Would it be better for me to save up what little energy I have for say, SAT Prep, filming, or the engineering course, or take on the AP English? Or should I just plow through regardless?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 14, 2009 #2


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    Part of it depends on your high school. Are AP classes weighted? If they get, for example, a 5.0 weighting then getting a B in the class is fine. If they're still at a 4.0 then it looks a bit riskier.

    For college applications purposes, they usually look at the number of AP courses you took relative to the number available. If your school offers AP physics, calc, chemistry, biology, history, english, psychology, etc. etc. etc. and you take none of them, you'll get dinged for it. If your school only offers AP english, and maybe one or two others, and you take one or none of them, it doesn't look as bad because they compare what you did to what kind of opportunity you had.

    You'll also want to look at the schools you're considering and see what they allow for skipping liberal arts requirements from an AP english test grade.

    As a parting note, that you've actually directed/produced two quality decent length films (I can't say for sure what the cutoff is, but for example if they're a minute long each, don't mention that part, if they're 45 minutes long each, definitely mention that part) is great. Make sure to play that up pretty heavily on your application.
  4. Sep 14, 2009 #3
    Not to say that knowing English is unimportant (because it is) but considering that class probably wont prepare you to write up labs, where as in university there is a technical report writing class for engineers I don’t see how AP English would benefit you, especially if you feel it will be detrimental to your GPA.
  5. Sep 14, 2009 #4


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    I asked the same question as you before signing up for AP English Lang., and I ended up just taking the class (right now). I'm a consistent B student in English (and I'm pretty sure that screwed up any chances I had in making it into a top tier university), but I decided to take it just to challenge myself. I can probably squeeze out a bare A- at best, but that would be enough for me as long as I know that I challenged myself and did my best (as opposed to taking the regular English class that is easier than our freshman honors class).

    I can't tell you what to do, for ultimately it is your decision on what you really want to do, and because I am in the same situation as you right now (albeit I've already signed up the class and have no thoughts of dropping), I don't know how this is going to turn out for me. I'm just sharing what went on through my head as I was contemplating about the same question as yours.
  6. Sep 14, 2009 #5


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    I have to disagree with this. Admissions officers who see an engineering prospective student who hasn't challenged him/herself at all on non-technical fronts in class expects that student to succeed wildly in engineering related areas generally. I see you're taking pre-calc, and you can't do AP physics, so you're going to have to push yourself on other fronts. Keep in mind also they look at you from two points of views: As a prospective engineering student, and also just as a prospective student, since obviously you can change your major once you arrive. So in terms of getting admitted non engineering related APs can help a lot still
  7. Sep 14, 2009 #6
    Weighting is irrelevant, as most colleges will weight your GPA themselves.
  8. Sep 16, 2009 #7
    Thanks everyone, I decided to drop AP English and instead focus on my other classes... turns out AP Physics and AP Biology is open (I might take AP Biology for the easy A, and hence huge GPA boost). I know taking AP on everything possible is ideal, but I realized I won't be able to take them all on at this time.
  9. Sep 17, 2009 #8
    I don't know if this is too late, but I would say take AP English in high school; I didn't take AP English in high school so I'm taking it right now in college and absolutely HATE it.
  10. Sep 19, 2009 #9
    I think if you are going to a good school like UC it is really unlikely they'll will give you the college credit for the AP tests that you've passed. But on the contrary Taking the class improves your chance of getting in the school. You consider the Cons and Pros. ALthough I suggest you to take AP physics and AP Calculus (both).
    I have the similiar problem right now, stuck in the IB program with IB British Literature which does not amuse me at all, doing like 4 essay everyweek, taken all my time to study physics. And also I'm also a bad test taker. around 30 on ACT and 1800+ on SAT
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