AP vs Honor Classes

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by dreamusafa, Sep 15, 2016.

  1. dreamusafa

    dreamusafa Member

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    My DS is an rising sophmore and its a childhood dream to obtain an appointment to the Air Force Academy. DS has done exceptionally well in academics but is not a star athlete. DS is currently on the football but does not have any leadership position. DS is currently the lead builder on the Robotics Team and is currently a C/TS in CAP and currently the Logistics Person for the Squadron. DS loves CAP and is trying to position himself to achieve the Spaatz by graduation in 2019.

    Question: DS just heard from a individual who is currently applying to the Academy that DS shouldn't take any AP classes because if DS doesn't get a good final grade, the Academy looks down on it. DS current sophmore schedule is 4 honor clases in English, Chemistry, Alg II/Trig and Spanish and plans is to take AP English, AP Chemistry and AP US Govt in his Junior year and AP Calc and AP Physics is Senior. Will taking all these AP classes hurt him if he doesn't do well in them and should he stick with just taking honor classes.
     
  2. Fuss

    Fuss Member

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    Hello! I am applying to the class of 2021 for the Air Force Academy. I have read in countless areas that the admission panel likes to see kids who took the most challenging schedule at their school. Your DS will just have to work as hard as possible. I attend a small high school, which has only 7 AP classes, and I took all of them.

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. Jcc123

    Jcc123 Member

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    @dreamusafa your DS should take the hardest classes in which he can do well - generally speaking that means As with occasional Bs.
     
  4. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Which classes should I take is one of the most often asked questions. Individual applicants have to look deep down inside an ask themselves certain questions concerning this. Let's be completely honest. The AVERAGE gpa of an applicant, is a 3.87. The majority of those applicants took the most challenging classes, meaning AP classes or the IB program. The few who didn't, was because the classes weren't available.

    So, an individual has to look at reality. If taking the minimum required classes in school, they are a 3.5 gpa student, that makes it very difficult to get accepted to the academies. That doesn't mean one shouldn't apply. You can make up the difference with the ACT/SAT. But if you think taking AP classes are going to net you a 3.2 gpa, then that is a tough call. But honestly, the academy would rather see the lower gpa with every class being advanced, than a higher gpa with the state required classes. Again, this doesn't apply to schools where advanced classes aren't available.

    You say this has been your son's dream, to attend the academy. Then what matters is, how bad does he want it and how hard will he work for it. You said he does quite well academically. That's good. So let's assume he's not the 3.5 gpa student, but rather the 3.85-4.0 gpa student. He should have no problem maintaining a 3.80+ gpa taking more advanced classes. Again, it depends how bad he wants the academy and how hard he's willing to work for it.

    It looks like he's also active in extra curricular activities like CAP, robotics club, and football. That's excellent. Don't stop any of those unless he simply doesn't like it. He isn't expected to have much leadership as a freshman. He has time for that. And while the vast majority of cadets played varsity sports, they weren't all captains of their team. He can find leadership in many other areas. But if he wants the academy, then he needs to work hard for it. Take advanced classes and remain in sports and the other activities. And never allow: I don't have enough time to do it all" ever be an excuse. Most cadets did all those things and so much more. Including jobs, 200-300 hours volunteering, class officer, watching baby brother and sister so mom/dad could work, etc.

    I'm glad the academy has always been a childhood dream. But it's been a dream of the vast majority who attend the academy. Including MANY who make it and quit shortly after, realizing it wasn't what they thought it would be. None of what I write is meant to discourage your son. It's meant to motivate. There are 4.0 gpa kids who are truly the best of the best. There's also some 3.5 gpa who just met the minimum ACT/SAT scores, and everything in between.

    Generally, the difference between those who get an appointment and make it, and those who don't, comes down to who did the most with what was available to them. Both before and at the academy. And the best part is; if an individual truly is qualified and competitive for the academies, then she or he is equally qualified for the best universities in the country, and they'll get accepted to one of those schools if not to the academy. So all this hard work isn't a waste of time. I personally know dozens of kids who got through high school getting up at 5:30-6:00am and going to bed at 11:00-11:30pm every night, so they could do everything. And it paid off in the end. Not saying a sophomore needs to go that intense yet, but in time probably. IF they want it bad enough. Best of luck.
     
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  5. dreamusafa

    dreamusafa Member

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    @Christcorp. Thank you for your response. I was hopeing you'd provide your insight and will definately show this to my DS.
     
  6. USAFA10s

    USAFA10s USAFA Class of 2012 WPAFB

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    Good advice from Christcorp as always but I'd like to throw out that cutting down on sleep to fit more in is not always the best plan.

    I have had many people ask me how I did/do everything and maintain my grades (in highschool, USAFA, and as a graduate student in physics).

    My first answer is always GET ENOUGH SLEEP. My rule since middle school has been if I am not sleeping at least 8 hours a night, I need to take a closer look at my schedule and figure out where I can manage my time better. I made it through all of highschool (with year round competitive tennis, jazz band, concert band, marching band, CAP, AP classes, volunteering at church, national honors society...) and USAFA (double major in physics/math, IC tennis, scholars program...) having never pulled an all nighter, never drinking caffeine and with the exception of a couple nights here and there usually related to group projects, going to bed before 1030.

    The truth is there are lots of spare moments available to get small tasks done/squeeze some studying in.

    Rant over. Back to the topic. Take the AP classes and figure out how to handle it. If taking all those APs and maintaining good grades is tough, then USAFA and likely any other top university will be very tough. The good news is there is plenty of time to LEARN those good study and time management habits. I have always found the more I pack my schedule, the more productive I am. Just make sure there are plenty of enjoyable, stress relieving, healthy activities in that schedule (for me that's always been and likely always will be tennis)
     
  7. dreamusafa

    dreamusafa Member

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    @USAFA10s Thank you for your response. As my DS was reading this thread on our drive to school this morning, he ask Mom, this sound like just like me and little did he know, it was about him. DS thanks you and @Christcorp for your responses.
     
  8. Daretodream

    Daretodream Member

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    Your post is interesting coming from a parent. My DS loaded up every semester taking AP/IB courses even for his elective courses. I would challenge him about taking care of his GPA for his application to top schools. He would laugh me off and state something about preparing himself for USAFA more than worrying about the application. It was a dangerous game. He also knew that USAFA would expect him to take a demanding schedule and weigh it in his favor. He graduated with about a 3.8 GPA. He had a 34 on the ACT with a 35 in Math and English so that might of helped his decision a little. He made a 4 or 5 on all of his AP Exams except the two foreign language exams where he made 3s. He is a C4C this year.

    The reason I give you my example is while you cannot get credit for college credit you do get the chance to validate courses during BCT. The class average is around 2 validations. My DS validated 7 which has allowed for two majors and a minor. We shall see how it works out for him, but his plan on preparing for his college career more than just his application GPA has worked so far.
     

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