Advice when Choosing AP’s, IB’s, Honors and Dual Enrollment Courses

Students often ask, “How many AP’s (Advanced Placement), IB’s (International Baccalaureate), Honors, and Dual Enrollment (taking community college courses while in high school) courses should I take?” with the “…so I can be accepted into a college of my choice” left unstated. In asking, families mistakenly prioritize competitiveness for college admissions over the interests and learning style of the student.

Thus, students worry about being “behind” peers, as their schedules don’t include the same number of AP/IB/Honors/Dual Enrollment courses, yet as seniors, students worry they appear like every other applicant. Additionally, students are anxious about how they’ll maintain their grades in multiple advanced classes, especially subjects where they lack confidence, while fulfilling their outside school commitments.

First, there’s no magic number of AP’s, IB’s, Honors, and Dual Enrollment courses to merit a college acceptance letter. Even Harvard College admissions officers state, “There is no formula for gaining admission to Harvard.” So, students can trust their experience and intuition, when choosing classes. 

Students can then take the more advanced classes only in subjects which are intriguing. Then, on a transcript, a student’s coursework provides evidence of interest in an academic major. Thus, students can distinguish themselves from other applicants, rather than appearing as a jack-of-all-trades earning high grades in a breadth of advanced courses. 

Plus, with focus, students can gain confidence in their aptitude, which Stanford University admissions officers confirm is essential: 

The students who thrive at Stanford are those who are genuinely excited about learning, not necessarily those who take every single AP or IB, Honors or Accelerated class just because it has that designation. Overall, we look for thoughtful and highly-engaged students who will make a difference at Stanford and in the world beyond.

Bold and underlined emphasis added by Creative Marbles

So, families should trust their experience by reflecting on the student’s previous academic performance, and interests. Then, select classes accordingly and judiciously.

Educators who first taught and learned from the young in the modern high school classroom, now with 20 years of consulting experience, bring an understanding of the complexity of the modern teenager and the travails of parenting soon-to-be adults regarding their education to bear when advising families throughout the United States and around the globe. See us at Creative Marbles Consultancy

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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