How many AP classes should my child take?

The Los Angeles Times just published an online article about AP Classes. It makes some good points. As a 2nd year AP teacher, I will offer my 2¢.

  1. The article suggests no matter what, a kid should still get 9 hours of sleep. Ok… If I wake up at 6am, go to school, play a sport that ends practice about 5… By the time I get home, eat dinner, and shower, it’s 6pm, leaving 3 hours for homework. I don’t think that’s realistic. If they get 6-7 hours of sleep, and you let them sleep in on the weekends, I think that would be realistic.
  2. Colleges want to see that your child is challenging themselves with APs, and that they look at how many they took vs how many are offered. But they also said kids should take AP classes they are interested in. So which one of these statements should we believe? I say the latter. If your kid doesn’t like biology, what’s the point of taking AP Bio? Because it’s offered? No thanks. My opinion… Pick and choose. Take the ones that are related to the field you want to major in.
  3. The “magic number” of AP classes your child should take in order to get into Stanford, UCLA, UCBerkley, etc. is 8 (or a range of 5-13). If your child is taking my AP Human Geography class as a Freshmen, they could be taking 2 (10th grade) 3 (11th grade) 2 (12th grade) OR 2-2-3, or 3-2-2 depending on math skills, Spanish skills, or which science class they took as freshmen. Some classes are offered at certain grade levels, others can be taken at any level.
  • 10th grade: World History
  • 11th grade: US History, English Literature
  • 12th grade: Govt, English Language
  • Math (depending on ability): Calculus AB – Calculus BC – Statistics
  • Language (depending on ability): Spanish Language – Spanish Literature – French Language
  • Science (high math skills) Chemistry – Physics (no math requirement) Biology – Environmental Science
  • Art: Art History – Studio Art
  • Psychology

Don’t pass up that paragraph that advises you about Jr Colleges-Transferring to a 4 year. When your child is filling out job applications, it won’t ask about their college GPA, how many years they went to school, or if they transferred from a JC.

No matter their path, make sure you give your children the support they need:

  • Basics like food, a place to do homework, and the time to do it are important.
  • You don’t need to know anything about the class to help! If they can explain it to you, then they understand. So ask questions.
  • Make sure they are keeping up with assignments. Just because they look like young adults doesn’t mean they are as responsible as adults.

This is what I thought about when I read the article. But don’t take my word! Talk to the counselors. Talk to people from church or dance  class that are a little older and kids have already gone through it. Talk to the AP teachers. And make the best decision for your child.


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