Hello, I am in a bit of a dilemma. I am a rising senior who is applying for the class of 2015. I will be taking 3 AP classes next year (AP Constitutional Gov., AP English, and AP Biology) and I have also been offered to take AP Calculus. I talked to my Liason who said I should take the AP Calculus. I go to a Prep school where the AP Calc class is notoriously rigorous (a lot has to do with the teacher). If I take the AP instead of regular Calc then I would struggle and might get a C which would really kill my chances for admission. If I took regular Calc I would probably get anywhere from a B+ to an A because the pace would not be rigorous. What should I do?

It's up to you. Will AP Calculus help your application over regular or honors Calculus? Probably not enough to "tip the scales" in your favor between being offered an appointment and getting rejected. AP Calculus could possibly help you test out of Calculus your first year, but regular calculus would give you a good base for you to take whatever plebe math you are assigned. You are already taking three AP's; prehaps you should focus on doing well in those classes before adding on one more. On the other hand: a C in an AP class vs. an A or a B+ in a "regular" class. Will the academy be impressed you did your best in an AP class and made a C or just breezed through a regular class for the A? Senior year/prep schools for those applying to service academies are "prep" years academically, physically, and mentally. There is NOT a ton one can do to make a file considerably more competitve during the year they are applying; it is more about maintaining excellence. Will you learn more in an AP class or a regular class, regardless of the grade that is made(assuming one's best effort is put forth)? Ultimately, this decision is one you must make yourself. There are pro's and con's to both sides of the issue. It is a case by case basis for this all too common dilemma, though. I would suggest talking to the AP Calculus teacher and your math teacher from last year, and keep your liason's advice in mind as well. Good luck with your decision!

If I was on the admissions board, or you were my child, I would want to see, or suggest, that you take the AP calculus class, and do whatever you need to do to get at leat a B.

First of all, the two AP Government choices are either Comparative Government & Politics or US Government & Politics. Now, AP Calculus: does your school offer AP Calculus AB or AP Calculus BC? Normally colleges will equate a passing grade in AP Calc AB with Calc I and AP Calc BC with Calc II. Both are rigorous but AP Calc moves at a faster pace to encompass more material. Your concerns: How well prepared are you for Calculus? Have you taken Pre-Calc and did you earn a decent grade? If you are well prepared then you can expect to work hard, if you are not well prepared then it would be far better for you to take a Math that will prepare you for the rigors of calculus - since Math is cumulative. Your concern of AP Calc being more rigorous at your school because it's a "Prep" school are probably unfounded. AP Calc has the same curricula in a rigorous prep school as any other school. Everyone who takes the course takes the same test. The academies are like other selective universities - they want to see you take a rigorous curriculum and do well in it. Take the next step up in math. The academies are very math heavy and you will take math and a lot of it. Skipping math your senior year in high school is not a good idea.

Although it's true that everyone takes the same test, that doesn't mean the actual class won't be harder at a college prep school. I go to a college prep school and my AP Calculus class was so hard that people who got C's in the class got 4s and 5s on the AP test. Meanwhile, I have a friend at a nearby public school who passed her AP Calculus class and only got a 2 on the AP test.

But the reason to take the class is to pass the test. Sure, the individual teacher may have more demands but if you choose to attend a prep school you should be willing to stand up to the challenge. Deciding to take or not take this class should be up to one's ability - not if you will have a hard teacher or not. When transcripts are sent, they will include a school profile that will outline the curriculum and the rigor of the school. IMO - any student who gets a 5 on the test but a C in the class is probably lazy - unless "C" is the highest grade in the class.

At my school Calculus is a pre req for AP Calculus. But this may be because we operate on a 4-block schedule where you only take a class for half a year. You HAVE to take Calculus first semester and AP Calc second semester.

Getting a C in any class won't kill your admissions chances - I had the same fear after I got a C in my first semester of AP Calc but was told by my MALO that it wasn't a big issue. As long as its not a recurring problem and you don't fail any classes, it shouldn't seriously hurt your chances. Good luck!

I know we are discussing WP, but when we are at Annapolis the admissions officer clearly stated that he would rather see an A in regular class than a B or C in an AP class.

Yep, we are discussing West Point. Math and progression in Math is extremely important at West Point. You will take a lot of Math and will be placed properly when you are a plebe. Honestly, most kids who take AP Calc in hs will repeat it at West Point- that doesn't mean you should not challenge yourself now. Look, Calculus is NOT required to attend West Point. If you have not progressed in Math far enough to take Calculus - then don't worry. What West Point looks at carefully, are the courses that you took, the LEVEL of those courses and how well you did. Obviously, they would like to see you take Calculus AND get an A. They do NOt want to see you skip math your senior year. If you don't take a Math, because Calc is your only option, that will be looked on as a weak schedule. When you send in your transcripts that should include your senior schedule. They won't even see your senior grades until Jan/Feb when you send in your 7th semester transcripts. Again, anyone who is properly placed in Calculus should be able to earn an A or B with hard work. If you are not willing to work that hard then rethink the academics at West Point and whether or not it's a good fit for you.