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Articles / Applying to College / Is My Course Load Too Rigorous?

Jan. 27, 2016

Is My Course Load Too Rigorous?

Question: I am currently a Freshman taking Honors Geometry, Algebra 2, Modern World History, Biology, English, and regular French, choir, and Latin, and i have a 3.6 unweighted/4.1 weighted GPA. Next year, I am planning on taking AP US History, AP Human Geography, AP Latin, AP Capstone Seminar, Precalc AA, Chemistry AA, and English AA. I am also a world qualifying Irish dancer, practicing about 20 hours a week since i have been 4. Do you think that this is too much of a workload for a Sophomore, or do you think it is manageable? Thank you so much.


“The Dean" can't accurately advise you on course selection. I get these sorts of requests quite often, and my response is always the same. I don't know anything about the rigor of your high school and of each individual class in particular. For instance, at my son's former high school, even the freshmen knew that AP Bio was a killer while AP Psych was a stroll in the park. Sometimes the same class (e.g., Honors Geometry) might be tough or not too bad, depending on the teacher, which varied from section to section.

So you need to tune into the scuttlebutt at your own high school and try to figure out just how stressful your planned sophomore year will be. Moreover, I can't tell from your query if you expect to take all of these classes at the same time or whether some will last for one semester only. And, of course, each student is different. Some are master multi-taskers while others are easily befuddled when there are too many balls in the air. I also don't know how easy—or hard—it is for you to fit homework time around your dance-practice schedule. For instance, maybe you are good at getting work done during car rides or while you are waiting for your practices to begin. (Or perhaps if you're NOT so good at that, it's a skill you can start to cultivate.)


Bottom line: If you plan to take all of those classes every day for the entire school year, it does seem like it might be a weighty load and you might want to drop or postpone the AP US History or the AP Human Geography. But if your school is on some sort of block plan, then the schedule seems more reasonable. But, again, “The Dean" cannot responsibly judge what you can handle without knowing a lot more about your school … and about YOU!

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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