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Articles / Applying to College / Choosing Courses: AP or More Language?

Dec. 24, 2002

Choosing Courses: AP or More Language?

Question: I was planning to take AP Physics next semester, but if I do, I will not be able to take French II because of scheduling conflicts. I have taken three years of Latin already (though only two are shown on my transcript for some reason), and one year of French. I am planning to take at least three AP classes next year, but I need to know whether admission officers at highly competitive colleges will look down on me if I take AP Physics and have only taken three years of Latin and one of French.

This is a good question, and while there is no “right” answer, AP Physics is one of those classes that makes admission folks sit up, take notice, and look favorably upon those who tackle it. You have had a solid background in Latin already, so we advise that you go with the physics. When you submit your applications, we also suggest that you enclose a very brief note explaining what you have told us about having to choose between AP Physics and French II. That way, the colleges won’t wonder why you didn’t follow through with French. You should also point out that you did have three years of Latin, in case it isn’t clear from your transcript. This sort of confusion tends to happen when a student takes that first year of Latin in eighth grade. Perhaps that was the case with you.


If you’ve enjoyed French and are sorry to give it up, you might want to consider enrolling in a community college class, summer program, or a distance-learning course. (That’s where you study at home via the Internet. Public libraries usually have directories of distance-learning opportunities, if you need more information.) You would still explain to admission officers that you couldn’t take the French class at school due to the schedule conflict, and then they will be even more impressed that you pursued this enrichment opportunity outside of school in addition to electing the AP Physics.

Best of luck to you as you continue making your plans.

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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