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Articles / Applying to College / A.P. Class or Electives?

A.P. Class or Electives?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Jan. 28, 2003

Question: I am in 10th grade. We recently began course selection at my school for next year. This year I took AP U.S. History and am doing quite well in it, but I had to sacrifice some electives to take it. Should I take A.P. World History next year and give up electives like psychology, journalism, and photography, or should I take the electives?

You don’t say what your long-term goals are, but we think the subtext of your question is “How will admission officials view my transcript? Which classes ‘look better’?”


There’s no gray area here. Admission committees give far greater value to A.P. classes than they do to those electives you name. It seems like you can probably sneak in at least one of the “fun” classes in addition to A.P. World History, butâ€"at least for admission purposesâ€"the A.P. option beats the others by a country mile (and maybe you'll have some fun there, too!).

Adcoms also appreciate students who seek enrichment opportunities beyond their high schools. so if you can't fit electives into your schedule. perhaps you can seek out a photography class (or psych, journalism, etc.) at a local community college or through a nearby adult-ed program.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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