Senior Year: Physics, AP Chem, or my select chorus

Hello all,

As my senior year approaches, we are choosing classes. I have been part of a select chorus group (it is a class at my school) since freshman year. Right now, I have to option to take that for senior year, or AP Chemistry or Physics. My overall GPA in science is a 3.857 unweighted, as I earned a B in first-semester Chemistry, but have earned all A's since then. (Biology, Chemistry, IB Biology HL, AP Environmental Science) My weighted science GPA is a 4.286. Should I continue with my chorus (I really enjoy it and the people and my teacher) or take AP Chem or Physics? Any help is accepted and want to say thanks for reading this. I'll be attending USNA Summer Seminar and USCGA AIM this summer!
-Tom
 

Temple17

Member
Hi Tom,
I anticipated that there will be a lot of mixed opinions on this forum about what you should do. Here is my opinion: You are going to have opportunities to take difficult STEM courses like AP Chemistry or Physics. If you end up receiving an appointment to USNA you will take Chemistry during your Plebe year and Physics during your Youngster year. But, you have will have limited opportunities to take fun classes with people you enjoy. If I were in your shoes, I would do choir. From your post, it seems like you really enjoy it. Save Physics and Chem for the academy. Yes, it might be nice to validate Chem or Physics but I think it the long run you will be glad you took Choir.

I wish you the best as you make your decision.
 
If you haven't taken a year of physics yet, you should definitely take physics, as USNA strongly recommends at least one year of physics, and if possible, AP Physics (preferably AP Physics C as it is the most rigorous), to be competitive for admission (https://www.usna.edu/Admissions/Apply/General-Advice-for-Grades-9-12.php). If you already took physics, I would recommend taking AP Chem as it shows you are taking the most challenging courses available, especially in STEM, which is valuable to the academy from an admissions standpoint.
 

BBQ-Devil

Member
Hello all,

As my senior year approaches, we are choosing classes. I have been part of a select chorus group (it is a class at my school) since freshman year. Right now, I have to option to take that for senior year, or AP Chemistry or Physics. My overall GPA in science is a 3.857 unweighted, as I earned a B in first-semester Chemistry, but have earned all A's since then. (Biology, Chemistry, IB Biology HL, AP Environmental Science) My weighted science GPA is a 4.286. Should I continue with my chorus (I really enjoy it and the people and my teacher) or take AP Chem or Physics? Any help is accepted and want to say thanks for reading this. I'll be attending USNA Summer Seminar and USCGA AIM this summer!
-Tom
First advice is to take free advice off an internet forum with a grain of salt. Your best information should come from your BGO or admissions officer at the academy.

That being said I would ask what math you are taking? The USNA is a STEM school and you need to demonstrate you can succeed in tough STEM classes. Calculus AB or BC would be ideal. If you have that on your resume and can make an A then I say take Chorus. You only live once and you need to enjoy what you do. If on the other hand you don't have the strong math background and are not taking Calculus I may side with taking AP Chem or AP Physics. You will be competing with other hopefuls who will be heavy in STEM (my DS took AP Bio, AP Chem, AP Physics, AP Calc, AP Comp Sci, and AP Stat) and though academics aren't everything this is a competition and you need to stand out in some way.

Again my advice, ask your BGO.
 
First advice is to take free advice off an internet forum with a grain of salt. Your best information should come from your BGO or admissions officer at the academy.

That being said I would ask what math you are taking? The USNA is a STEM school and you need to demonstrate you can succeed in tough STEM classes. Calculus AB or BC would be ideal. If you have that on your resume and can make an A then I say take Chorus. You only live once and you need to enjoy what you do. If on the other hand you don't have the strong math background and are not taking Calculus I may side with taking AP Chem or AP Physics. You will be competing with other hopefuls who will be heavy in STEM (my DS took AP Bio, AP Chem, AP Physics, AP Calc, AP Comp Sci, and AP Stat) and though academics aren't everything this is a competition and you need to stand out in some way.

Again my advice, ask your BGO.
Hi, thanks for your response. I am a full IB student and I am in IB Math, which integrates precalculus and parts of calculus one. Next year I will be taking the second year of IB math, in congruence with AP calculus. I have also taken several science classes and also taken computer science and earned an A. So, with that, as a full IB student, would you recommend I take chorus over physics or AP chemistry? I have already taken a year of high school chemistry.
 

ders_dad

Member
This is free advice so it’s worth just that. You are good with IB HL math - good or better than AP Calc. Your path is almost exactly like my DS’s. He had honors chem in 10th grade and didn’t take IB or AP Chem. I would highly recommend taking physics- look into on-line offers if available so you can keep chorus
 

Capt MJ

10-Year Member
Hello all,

As my senior year approaches, we are choosing classes. I have been part of a select chorus group (it is a class at my school) since freshman year. Right now, I have to option to take that for senior year, or AP Chemistry or Physics. My overall GPA in science is a 3.857 unweighted, as I earned a B in first-semester Chemistry, but have earned all A's since then. (Biology, Chemistry, IB Biology HL, AP Environmental Science) My weighted science GPA is a 4.286. Should I continue with my chorus (I really enjoy it and the people and my teacher) or take AP Chem or Physics? Any help is accepted and want to say thanks for reading this. I'll be attending USNA Summer Seminar and USCGA AIM this summer!
-Tom
As you consider all the aspects of this decision and weigh inputs you receive here, one thing I will mention is that USNA offers Men’s and Women’s Glee Clubs. There are dozens of videos of their concerts on YouTube, and there has always been a strong correlation between music and STEM-savvy midshipmen. The reason I mention this is if choral music is one of your passions and a mental release for you, then if you make it into USNA (all of the SAs have choral groups), that is waiting for you. It’s a source of support and relaxation, and lifelong friendships are formed. They also get to tour to some amazing places.

USNA will look at the totality of your package, as well as the school you are attending. You will be competing for noms with, presumably, others who will choose to take AP STEM classes. No one here can tell you whether a decision to not take those classes will have neutral, positive or negative impacts on your application. Courses you take, overall GPA, test scores, class rank, how your school stacks up + leadership + athletic participation + other activities all form a picture of you which will be compared to others in your nom categories and should you get a nom(s), to the others competing for an offer on f appointment.

Weigh this from short, mid and long-term perspectives. What do you want with all of your heart? What are you willing to do to get it? What are you not willing to do, understanding there may be unknown risks with no way of knowing for sure? What is the goal, and reverse engineer from that.

Have some fun and google “USNA Halloween concert ‘Phantom,’” “USNA Glee Club Messiah,” “USNA The Skivs,” “USNA Glee Club ‘Eternal Father.”
As you can tell, I’m a local fan. DH was a Glee Club member back in the 20th c., and those are among his strongest and best USNA memories, and his oldest friends.

Check out the hamburger menu in the upper left, as well as their FB page.
https://www.usna.edu/Music/index.php

I’m sorry you have a rough choice here. Keep us posted along the way.
 

justdoit19

Member
Hi, thanks for your response. I am a full IB student and I am in IB Math, which integrates precalculus and parts of calculus one. Next year I will be taking the second year of IB math, in congruence with AP calculus. I have also taken several science classes and also taken computer science and earned an A. So, with that, as a full IB student, would you recommend I take chorus over physics or AP chemistry? I have already taken a year of high school chemistry.
Absolutely would recommend shooting admissions an email and asking. DS was deciding his schedule, has already taken chemistry, but admissions still recommend AP chem his senior year.

Side note: you will be able to continue to sing at the next level for USNA. GLEE, gospel, maybe others. Those choirs were honored to perform at Senator McCain and President Bush’s funerals, among other events. They travel. It’s exciting.

Check with admissions. They are your best bet for advising. And ditto everything CAPT MJ said.
 

usna1985

10-Year Member
A lot depends on your entire course load since at least 10th grade along with your class rank and SATs. If you have an otherwise strong core course load for senior year, have demonstrated achievement in STEM courses to date and have high math SAT/ACT, chorus may not hurt.

Strong core course load means math, English, advanced language, statistics, history. If you have any other courses that are “soft,” (think sociology, criminal justice, art, personal finance, economics), taking chorus presents more of a challenge.

The above said, if you have h.s. Physics, you will have an easier time with it at USNA.
 
As you consider all the aspects of this decision and weigh inputs you receive here, one thing I will mention is that USNA offers Men’s and Women’s Glee Clubs. There are dozens of videos of their concerts on YouTube, and there has always been a strong correlation between music and STEM-savvy midshipmen. The reason I mention this is if choral music is one of your passions and a mental release for you, then if you make it into USNA (all of the SAs have choral groups), that is waiting for you. It’s a source of support and relaxation, and lifelong friendships are formed. They also get to tour to some amazing places.

USNA will look at the totality of your package, as well as the school you are attending. You will be competing for noms with, presumably, others who will choose to take AP STEM classes. No one here can tell you whether a decision to not take those classes will have neutral, positive or negative impacts on your application. Courses you take, overall GPA, test scores, class rank, how your school stacks up + leadership + athletic participation + other activities all form a picture of you which will be compared to others in your nom categories and should you get a nom(s), to the others competing for an offer on f appointment.

Weigh this from short, mid and long-term perspectives. What do you want with all of your heart? What are you willing to do to get it? What are you not willing to do, understanding there may be unknown risks with no way of knowing for sure? What is the goal, and reverse engineer from that.

Have some fun and google “USNA Halloween concert ‘Phantom,’” “USNA Glee Club Messiah,” “USNA The Skivs,” “USNA Glee Club ‘Eternal Father.”
As you can tell, I’m a local fan. DH was a Glee Club member back in the 20th c., and those are among his strongest and best USNA memories, and his oldest friends.

Check out the hamburger menu in the upper left, as well as their FB page.
https://www.usna.edu/Music/index.php

I’m sorry you have a rough choice here. Keep us posted along the way.
Thank you so much for your candid response! It is really helpful. I think I’m going to email my counselor about it and get his opinion. I’ll be sure to update you on my decision! I’m thinking of looking into online options for physics.
 
Absolutely would recommend shooting admissions an email and asking. DS was deciding his schedule, has already taken chemistry, but admissions still recommend AP chem his senior year.

Side note: you will be able to continue to sing at the next level for USNA. GLEE, gospel, maybe others. Those choirs were honored to perform at Senator McCain and President Bush’s funerals, among other events. They travel. It’s exciting.

Check with admissions. They are your best bet for advising. And ditto everything CAPT MJ said.
I’ll talk to admissions. Thanks so much for your candid rapid response!
 

MidCakePa

Member
Tough decision and not much to add to the above advice. Know this: The most competitive candidates will be taking the toughest classes their school has to offer — especially in STEM — and excelling. That means AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, maybe AP Computer Science. And even these folks aren’t shoo-ins. You know better than anyone else what the rest of your application looks like — USNA is interested in the whole person —- so decide accordingly.
 

Stork103

Member
Tough decision and not much to add to the above advice. Know this: The most competitive candidates will be taking the toughest classes their school has to offer — especially in STEM — and excelling. That means AP Calculus, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, maybe AP Computer Science. And even these folks aren’t shoo-ins. You know better than anyone else what the rest of your application looks like — USNA is interested in the whole person —- so decide accordingly.
An additional perspective here. I don’t think there is a right answer. It’s a giant puzzle and there’s just no way to know if your piece will fit. DS was 1560 SAT single sitting, 4.0 unweighted, 4.whatever weighted, all the APs, 2 year Director of HS service club, NHS, team captaincy, All State trumpet player, job in HS, etc and that wasn’t good enough to make the cut. Not even wait list.

Work hard, have fun, and be you. If USNA happens, it happens.
 

brewmeist

Member
Another thing to think about, unless previously mentioned... Are there officer positions for the chorus? That would be a plus.

When my son started his process, I told him not to game the system. He took all of his STEM classes and was a varsity athlete and captain, but also stayed in the band. He loved band and didn't want to give it up. He was a class rep all 4 years and got elected to VP this year. He even changed an AP History class to Honors one year so he could still fit band in his schedule.

The academies want to see the real you. Of course, I am not in admissions, so only giving my 2 cents. As others have mentioned, check with your BGO and admissions.
 

Old Navy BGO

5-Year Member
Here's a simple way to look at it...

USNA encourages applicants to take the most rigorous math/science curriculum the school offers. Depending upon the rest of your record, taking choir over Calculus might not hurt, but it is probably safe to say that no one ever got turned down by USNA for too much math/science, or too little choir.

That being said, you still need to take your personal desires into account. There is no guarantee of admission to USNA even if you follow the USNA desired curriculum. It's a competitive process, and every year plenty of applicants who dedicate their entire high school career to getting into USNA get a TWE. The answer to the question is really a question of priorities, and only OP can answer it for himself.
 

usna1985

10-Year Member
Tend to agree with OldNavyBGO. There's little question that a STEM course will be better for USNA purposes. But, you also have to live your life -- and there is no guarantee by any means that if you take the STEM course you will get into USNA (or that if you don't, you won't). Go with your gut.

One other thing -- is there any way you can change out one of your other (non-chorus) courses for the STEM course?
 

ders_dad

Member
All of our sons have been in IB programs in HS. They are great but we have found one problem - teachers have to go through specific training to teach a particular IB course. It is expensive (to the school district) and a bit of a pain for the teachers. And in many schools only a sliver of the students take the courses (in DS's class of 385, there are 19 IB diploma candidates). You can take IB classes and not be in the diploma program (some do) but the bottom line is that there is a lot of cost and effort to serve basically the bubbles at the top of the froth in a beer mug (pardon the analogy). So many schools that offer IB have very limited course offerings and only one section of the class. This can put a crimp on a student's ability to schedule in all the classes they want. Add to this that you have to take Theory of Knowledge (2 semesters) and you have to take a certain mix of HL and SL classes (the HL classes are two-year programs), a student can be left with the exact conundrum that the OP has.

IMHO, IB seems to work best in larger schools with a higher percentage of high-achievers. In the interest of "equity" our school district of 6 high schools all offer the IB program. I applaud their effort and goal but it is inefficient. But the alternative is to send high achievers to one or two schools and that is simply out of the question.

IB provides a broad, multi-faceted high school education that can serve stem-focused students and more liberal arts-bent students. The fact that it does include both stem and liberal arts together is, IMHO, its strength (engineers-to-be read Milton, future historians can perform integration and differentiation). But you may have to make some trade-offs. Our DS felt committing to the program (as it turned out, at the expense of taking IB Physics because of schedule conflicts) was more important than checking every box. He did wind up taking an on-line physics class senior year anyway, which (in addition to varsity sports, Scouts etc. forced him into adopting time management skills that he never knew he had). You don't know if you will get into USNA - you may change your mind, you may not be accepted, etc. IB is solid preparation for any program and I know from DS's experience that USNA understands that showing commitment to the program requires trade offs.
 
Take the course that will make you happy! :) You are definitely trying to overthink this entire process. USNA is looking for candidates with a WCS. Just this past year I had a candidate with stellar grades and very little else. TWE. Another candidate with ok grades and a great WCS. Appointment. DD good grades, great extras. Appointment to 3 academies.
 

OldRetSWO

USNA 78/parent 11/BGO for >25yrs
5-Year Member
Here's a simple way to look at it...

USNA encourages applicants to take the most rigorous math/science curriculum the school offers. Depending upon the rest of your record, taking choir over Calculus might not hurt, but it is probably safe to say that no one ever got turned down by USNA for too much math/science, or too little choir.

That being said, you still need to take your personal desires into account. There is no guarantee of admission to USNA even if you follow the USNA desired curriculum. It's a competitive process, and every year plenty of applicants who dedicate their entire high school career to getting into USNA get a TWE. The answer to the question is really a question of priorities, and only OP can answer it for himself.
Very well put!
 
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