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The number of AP Courses Should a Student Consider?

Posted by admin on in College Advice |

CoCo 130820 0487 Are you experiencing recommendations on how many AP courses students should have at the time of applying to college?

The expectations at the most picky colleges in the country are that the student will go to the highest level obtainable in all five major subjects (math, science, history/social science, English and foreign language). This can and often does mean going to the Advanced Placement degree in all five subjects by the time the student is a senior, though not all high schools will offer AP degree courses in all subject areas. If they are not really offered, the student will not be punished during the college admissions process for not acquiring them (you can’t take what isn’t available! ). Those colleges also expect to see excellent performance in those courses, ideally As with everything taken in high school.

As colleges get less picky, the expectations in terms of curriculum rigor get slightly lower, and most institutions in this country don’t expect to find any AP courses at all.

Rather than focusing on the number of AP courses, I would instead concentrate on programs choices that make sense for your child and his/her ability to succeed.


Beyond the number of AP’s, what is it that makes a student an attractive prospect regarding college admission officers?

It’s important to note that a student does not become a much more interesting or competitive candidate just because he/she has many AP courses. Engagement and interest in the material is equally as important, as are all the other elements of the application, including participation outside the classroom, test scores, teacher recommendations and essays. In my time as an admissions officer at Penn, I never counted up the number of AP courses a student had taken and brought that fact up in committee as a selling point. Instead I looked for evidence of an fascinated and interesting student in all of the elements noted above.



Elizabeth Heaton is part of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts . Prior to coming to College Coach, Beth proved helpful as a senior admissions officer in University of Pennsylvania and an alumni admissions ambassador at Cornell University.

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