Will Dropping One Advanced-Placement Course Hurt Her College-Admissions Chances?


Indrani writes:
I read an article of yours at quintcareers.com. I had a question about college admission.
I just switched out of AP U.S. history and was wondering if that was indeed the right
choice. I know that I could have handled the course. Yet I do not think I could have
handled the course in addition to studying for the SAT. My other courses include: honors
English honors Spanish honors physics honors precalculus and AP chemistry. Now
I am in academic U.S. history. Will top colleges look badly on my decision? Will they not
admit me because I did not take AP U.S. history?


The Career Doctor responds:
Let me start by saying that while I have no idea of your high-school grade point average if you are taking a mix of honors and advanced-placement classes
you must be a student who excels academically.
Everyone has a different interpretation of top colleges but if you are talking the
elite colleges (such as the Ivy League) you need every advantage you can
get. However course selection and grades are just part of these school look at
in applicants.
Obviously for the vast majority of colleges standardized test scores are also an
important factor. So if you felt one more advanced placement course was going
to hurt your SAT prep then I think you made the right choice. You are obviously
showing you can take (and I assume succeed in) academically challenging
courses so your next goal should be to get the best score you can on the SAT.
The third element that college admissions folks examine is involvement — and
not just being involved but also taking leadership in at least one organization. It’s
much better to have leadership experience in just one organization than be a
member of 10 groups.
Finally just about all admissions professionals I talk with tell me that they also look
between the lines of applications for other elements. They are looking for students
who are going to bring something new to the campus as well as students who seem
a good fit for the school.
I suggest you meet with your guidance counselor and talk about your college goals.
Your counselor can then help you map out what you need to do over these next few
months to maximize your chances for getting accepted.
You can also read what various college admissions professionals say about a variety
of these issues by reading our annual report
Answers to Common
College Admissions Questions
published on Quintessential Careers.


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