Course selection: Which AP classes should I take based on my major?
Today, we will be talking about course selection and which AP classes you should take based on your major. Which classes are important to get A’s in for each major. Also, we will also cover the weighted AP courses that make sense. And which ones do not. All depending on the major you are indicating towards. Not all A’s are created equal. Therefore it is important to have an understanding of the courses you need to perform well in.
Course selection based on major
Major #1: for Computer Science & Engineering
Students should make it their priority to perform well and challenge themselves in Math. It teaches students to analyze a problem before coming up with a solution. The more A’s received in this subject, the better you present yourself as a candidate for a good school. Taking advanced Math courses and receiving A’s in those is even better. But taking weighted courses – by itself – does not make you look good for college. The next courses with great importance are Physical Sciences (e.g. Chemistry and Physics). They serve as an indication of your quantitative abilities when submitting your high school profile.
Beyond these two subjects, AP Computer Science (offers two classes) is one that should be explored by students of interest in CS & Engineering. For students with no background in coding, AP Computer Science Principles serves as an introductory course to computer science. Students that feel comfortable with coding and have previous experience can take AP Computer Science A. These three subjects are the most significant when indicating towards Computer Science and Engineering.
Subjects that do not matter as much for these majors are English, History, and Foreign Language. This does not mean students should slack off and even give themselves the opportunity to perform poorly. Do not settle and receive anything less than A. If having trouble deciding what courses to challenge yourself in, these are the ones NOT to consider.
Pro-Tip: If you’re applying for Engineering, it’s wisest to take Physics in or by 11th grade if possible.
The reason for this recommendation is because Physics is a key discipline in Engineering. It is one of the best AP classes to take junior year. It is important to indicate to admissions readers that you have the interest and the aptitude to do well here.
Major #2: Biology & Chemistry
If not obvious, Biology and Chemistry are the MOST important courses for these two majors. Especially if you can manage, this is the best AP classes to take. Beyond these, Chemistry majors need to show good strength in Math. Grades from this subject serves as a strong indication of your quantitative abilities. Biology majors, on the other hand, should show good strength in English. Critical thinking and writing skills are important for lab work and a varied curriculum within the College of Letters & Sciences. Math matters less for Biology majors as it isn’t a huge component of most Biology program’s prerequisites.
Computer Science & Engineering coursework is less significant for these two majors. Oftentimes, we see parents pressuring kids to challenge themselves heavily in these courses. Under the concept “just in case”. We can assure you they do not carry a big weight when considering Biology and Chemistry.
Major #3: Business Course Selection
When indicating towards a Business major, look to take classes like Marketing or Entrepreneurship—or even both! This shows your interest in the major from early on. A lot of Business revolves around Math, making this another crucial subject to perform well in. There is no pressure to challenge yourself though, getting A’s should be first priority. This applies for English as well! A lot of business involves communication, be it writing or talking. Hence, the more A’s in English the better, though advanced coursework is optional.
Advanced STEM classes do not carry weight when indicating towards a Business major. There is no need to challenge yourself with these courses as they do not have a strong correlation to Business.
Major #4: Psychology Course Selection
Psychology is definitely an important subject to take, ideally by 11th grade. Feel free to even take AP Psychology to learn more about the basis of psychological theory. But only as long as you can perform well in it. English and History play a big role too for critical reading, writing, and thinking skills. Lastly, Chemistry is also highly recommended because studying human thought involves studying the human brain.
Similar to Business, advanced STEM classes do not carry weight when indicating towards a Psychology major.
Major #5: Art Course Selection
Art of course is important, BUT take different classes throughout the four years. Not only will this help you gain depth but it will also show your developing interest. Aside from Art courses though, English and History play a big role. It develops the essential critical reading, writing, and thinking skills Art majors need.
Advanced STEM classes are less significant for students interested in Art. There is no need to challenge yourself with these types of courses.
Recap & Conclusion on Course Selection
Don’t follow the herd, follow your heart. Part of high school is showing the world what you’re most curious about. Select the courses that pertain most to your likeliest major or majors. That’s exactly what most colleges look for – proof of concept. After all, it’s hard to believe someone who says they’re interested in Engineering if they’ve not taken Physics yet. Or someone who says they’re “passionate about programming” if they can hardly program.
Be smart about course selection. Selecting courses along your likeliest major is a great way to get more A’s. Be careful to avoid over challenging yourself. Do not take courses just because you heard they look good because it’s barely ever true.
We hope that this provides some valuable insight into how to release some of the stress you may have while making your college application profile even stronger.
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