How many AP classes should you take?
Challenge yourself – take as many as you possibly can, be involved in extra-curricular activities, be an officer in a club or organization, volunteer, and in your spare time it would be good if you could do something like start a non-profit. And then you might be able to get into a good university.
Really, who knows? Because lots of kids do all that and then they don’t get into a “good” university.
So you better try to do more.
Because if you have a smart kid who likes to apply themselves, you want them to have a shot at success! Don’t you? And if they don’t get into one of the top universities, they’ve lost their chance at success. Right?
That’s the advice high school students and their parents hear. But is it accurate advice? The high school schedule that results from that advice is such a killer, I decided to do some research into what’s really required.
Take as many AP classes as you can manage?
If your child wants to go to an Ivy league University, that might apply. Or it might not. You also have a chance to get into a super-selective, super-elite university if you manage to write a super famous blog or win top place in a national competition. But for the rest of us, taking a bunch of AP classes and being in at least the top 10% of class seems to be important.
It sounds cool to be able to say that your kid got in some place like Stanford. But aside from that being the type of parental bragging rights that Madeline Levine warns against in The Price of Privilege, I decided to take a good hard look at whether our children would actually go to an Ivy League university.
What are the real chances and getting accepted to an Ivy League School or elite school?
Take Stanford as an example. (Stanford isn’t strictly an Ivy League school, by the way. The Ivy League is technically eight schools on the east coast. But Stanford is considered an elite school.) Stanford had 42,497 applicants in fall 2015. We’ll just assume that all of them had the type of outstanding resume everyone is told they need to have, because the vast majority of them will. Of that 42,497, they admitted 2,142.
So, you build up that resume and apply to Stanford and your chances of getting accepted are 1 in 20, or 5%, because that’s a typical acceptance rate for them. It’s also typical of other elite and Ivy League Universities. And based on an article in Stanford’s alumni magazine, the odds of getting accepted get worse every year.
But let’s assume the best, and my child gets accepted! Woo hoo!
Then reality hits.
Someone’s got to pay for it.
How much does that college education cost? I’ll look at how much an elite education might cost in my next post.
How many AP classes should you take? – further reading
Advice from a Dean of Admissions on Selecting High School Courses – You get the same general response – “Take as many as you can handle” – but what’s really informative is the comments. Look through them!
What does it look like when some kids “take as many AP classes as they can handle”? Check out: Some High School Students Skip Lunch for More Class Time
An economist and former Googler says it probably doesn’t matter where you went to college — here’s why – Something to think about as you struggle under a heavy load of AP to get into an elite college.