Dear Nashie: Course Selection


Dear Nashie,

My parents seem to think that there is a certain number of AP courses I should be taking. How do I decide how many APs to take? What should I keep in mind when choosing courses for next year and in the future?


Cindy Lu

Form I


Dear Cindy,

It’s great that you’re choosing to take on additional rigor with AP courses in the future. Since you’re going to be a sophomore next year, there are only a few advanced courses that you can choose to take. For the most part, advanced course offerings and flexibility in choosing these options will open up to you in your junior and senior years.

When choosing courses for next year, it’s important to think about load, or the combination of all of the different extracurriculars you’re involved in (this includes sports, community service, clubs and fine arts), plus the amount of homework and studying required per night in the classes you choose to take.

Sometimes, considering your load for next year (and the years after that) will cause you to realize that what you put down on that four-year plan isn’t feasible in the long run. I remember that back when I was in eighth grade, my enriched math teacher encouraged me to take multivariable calculus when I was a senior. Back then, I simply nodded my head and wrote the course down in the box without stopping to think about what that course would really entail. Before you write anything down, make sure that you really think the course through to ensure that you are in a position to succeed in that class.

And in deciding whether to take a non-AP class versus an AP class, keep your strengths in mind, as well as how prepared you are for the course. For example, taking AP Chemistry as a sophomore probably isn’t your best bet if you haven’t studied a lot over the summer and/or tend to enjoy the humanities more.

At the same time, don’t feel the pressure to take an AP course just because it “looks good” on a college resume. College is still a long way off – you don’t need to worry about it just yet!

Besides, colleges are more interested in seeing  that you have excelled in the advanced classes that you’ve taken. Quality over quantity should be your motto when it comes to AP and honors classes. There isn’t a minimum number of AP classes that you have to take to graduate, so as you get older, be open to exploring new types of classes, both APs and non-APs.

There isn’t a magic number of AP classes that you have to take, either. As long as you do challenge yourself and continue working hard, you’ll do wonderfully, both in high school and beyond – so reassure both yourself and your parents!

Good luck and best wishes,