Will taking Honors Classes limit my chance of being a candidate?

DarkFires49

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Jul 19, 2019
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Hello everyone,

I'm a rising Junior, and I'm currently enrolled in the IB Diploma program. However, I did ask for some advice about this IB situation that I was having, and what I gathered was that I should look out for more STEM related classes. And as I think more about it during this summer, I want to ease my workload(not too much) so that I can pursue achieving a higher SAT score, and also get a chance to get myself involved in sports. I don't want IB to be full-time as it can stop me from doing any sports or have free time to study for the SATs. So I'm planning to quit IB to pursue some honors classes. Specifically dropping out of Chemistry and Spanish so that I can make time for the other activities. I'm very afraid of this, as HL Chemistry can really look good on one candidate's paperwork, but yet the teachers of these classes aren't really helpful or logical when it comes to helping students out.
So I'm wondering if I do substitute IB Chemistry with Honors Chem is that going to limit my chances of becoming a candidate?
 

MidCakePa

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May 22, 2018
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The guidance on this forum, consistently and constantly, is to take the hardest classes your school has to offer and ace them. That means STEM and English especially. SAs will know what those hardest classes are via your school profile.

Take easier classes or study more for the SAT/ACT? It really shouldn’t be a choice. Do both, along with leadership and athletics. You’re in a competition for an offer of appointment against candidates who are literally doing it all, many of them quite well. USMA, in fact, wants to know that you do it all because that’s what you’ll be expected to do at West Point. Best wishes.
 

Impulsive

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So in case you are not aware....Honors classes are NOT considered "College Level" as AP and IB are. So taking "Honors" is a much easier road, but likely will not rank you high on the WCS when admissions reviews your academic record, especially IF your school offers AP and IB and you chose otherwise. Like @MidCakePa said, you want to take the most difficult STEM courses you can, AND do sports and other extracurriculars! WP is highly competitive and you need to compare to the other applicants that do take AP and IB and do sports and student government and hold leadership positions. If you look at the WP website and review the class makeup for the past years you will find I think something like 90% or appointees are multi-sport varsity athletes, and rank in the top 10% of their class.
 

Capt MJ

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Excellent advice above, and common to all SAs that they know what the hardest courses are at your school, and will want to see you taking them.

You CAN do it all, by inventorying how you spend your time, prioritizing must-do-to-build-strong-application, over wanna-do-because stuff. Be ruthless with your time management. Do you spend an hour or more on social media or gaming? Set a timer for brief game/chat breaks, work on a SAT prep course. Do you loaf away the weekend? Summer break? Holidays? Take some downtime, but work on something that strengthens your app and builds well-roundedness. Your competition is. Don’t step back; lean forward.
 

MomWPgirl

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"Honors" is not standardized but some are indeed college level depending on the school. My local school as many honors classes which are indeed college level courses offered thru our state university system as well as Syracuse University. Many school districts are getting away from AP as college level honors classes are often more beneficial to students as many colleges and universities do not take AP credit or a very limited amount. Our district has found Honors classes to be more financially beneficial to students in the long run as the credits transfer more readily. Good advice by all on thread though.
 

Heatherg21

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Our DS's high school offers dual credit honors courses, no AP or IB. He earned 19 college credits his junior year, while managing a commute, teaching and attending TaeKwonDo and Hapkido, multiple clubs, officer positions and city and student government. He competed in multiple essay and poetry contests as well as American Legion Oratorical Contest. Attended Boys State and Nation and FBLA nationals this summer. I am not posting this in any way to brag, but to reinforce what others have said. You have to push yourself, and your time management skills. Of course, we don't even know if our DS will earn an appointment or nom. But he has placed himself in the 'competitive' pool. Put your best forward every day. Our kiddo probably averaged 5 hours of sleep a night last school year, but when he saw his college transcript with all 4.0 and his passed CLEP tests and weighted HS transcript, he said it was all worth it. Good luck to you!
 

FØB Zero

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From personal experience last year (Sophmore) I overloaded my schedule with honors + APs — I ended up getting 2 Cs — As a lesson, I have decided to take a mixture of classes this year.

Based off my experience: participating in other activities and sports (and you are ACT/SAT studies) it is reasonable to take those classes. Just make sure you’re learning the material and pushing yourself, but not over the line :) (Otherwise, this entire thread has rlly useful advice).
Good luck and hopefully we’ll see each other @ WP one day!
 

Impulsive

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"Honors" is not standardized but some are indeed college level depending on the school. My local school as many honors classes which are indeed college level courses offered thru our state university system as well as Syracuse University. Many school districts are getting away from AP as college level honors classes are often more beneficial to students as many colleges and universities do not take AP credit or a very limited amount. Our district has found Honors classes to be more financially beneficial to students in the long run as the credits transfer more readily. Good advice by all on thread though.

I believe you are referring to something completely different than what OP was talking about. If you take courses through a Community College or University and they are "College Honors" classes then they are indeed College Level Honors Classes and I would think would carry as much if not more weight than HS AP or IB. I think I understood OP to mean they were taking HS "Honors" classes which ARE NOT college level. Most HS Honors classes are one step above "regular HS" classes and a step below the rigors of AP and IB which are designed to mimic College courses in teaching and difficulty, HS Honors classes are not. So be careful, OP, if your classes are thru your local College or University (think Dual Enrollment) then you are good, if you are taking HS Honors classes then you need to "step it up" because you are not taking the most difficult classes.

This is not to say this choice will kill you, but if you go this route IMHO I would make sure you are active Student Government, multi Varsity Sports, and ACE the SAT or ACT.....JMHO..:)
 

npk13

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From my small amount of experience I will say that it is great to take challenging courses especially in math and science as mentioned above. I took 13 AP classes in high school and while that definitely helped my service academy applications, if I had done poorly in one or two classes, it may not have been so beneficial to my application. At the end of high school I was so tired from all of the studying and late nights, and while I had achieved what I wanted and had gotten into West Point, as a cadet now, here's my thoughts on AP/IB/honors classes.

1. If the number of AP/IB/honors classes you are taking interferes with your overall grades or health, don't take so many! Yes, it is nice to show that you are challenging yourself, but it's far better to maintain a balance. That's a more important skill to learn than to try to take too many courses and then live with the consequences.

2. West Point likes you to take challenging courses but they also want you to take things that interest you. This means take maybe 5 or 6 total AP classes and crush them. Do awesome in those difficult classes and continue to make great grades in your other classes. Also participate in clubs and extracurriculars that interest you but remember: it's all about balance. Don't let your grades suffer but also don't only do school stuff. Hard to explain, but I think you know what I mean.

3. At the end of the day, the credits don't transfer. I graduated high school with about 32 credit hours, which at a regular university would have gotten me out of at least my freshman year of school. West Point will make you retest during Beast to get into "honors" classes or may exempt you from one or two courses depending on your AP scores. So in the grand scheme of things, your honors classes only help you get into an academy.

I know plenty of people who took 5 or 6 AP/IB classes in high school and are my classmates, so make a decision that will allow you to maintain a balance. You need to do well in school, you need to challenge yourself, you need to participate in clubs and activities, and you need to play a sport. So make a decision that will help you do all of that and if it means not taking as many challenging classes, then that's ok! Good luck!
 

FØB Zero

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From my small amount of experience I will say that it is great to take challenging courses especially in math and science as mentioned above. I took 13 AP classes in high school and while that definitely helped my service academy applications, if I had done poorly in one or two classes, it may not have been so beneficial to my application. At the end of high school I was so tired from all of the studying and late nights,
3. At the end of the day, the credits don't transfer. I graduated high school with about 32 credit hours, which at a regular university would have gotten me out of at least my freshman year of school. West Point will make you retest during Beast to get into "honors" classes or may exempt you from one or two courses depending on your AP scores. So in the grand scheme of things, your honors classes only help you get into an academy.

When “retest(ing) during Beast, what if you score very low on a subject? Can you get dismissed for this? Thanks in advance.
 

npk13

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Aug 6, 2019
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From my small amount of experience I will say that it is great to take challenging courses especially in math and science as mentioned above. I took 13 AP classes in high school and while that definitely helped my service academy applications, if I had done poorly in one or two classes, it may not have been so beneficial to my application. At the end of high school I was so tired from all of the studying and late nights,
3. At the end of the day, the credits don't transfer. I graduated high school with about 32 credit hours, which at a regular university would have gotten me out of at least my freshman year of school. West Point will make you retest during Beast to get into "honors" classes or may exempt you from one or two courses depending on your AP scores. So in the grand scheme of things, your honors classes only help you get into an academy.

When “retest(ing) during Beast, what if you score very low on a subject? Can you get dismissed for this? Thanks in advance.


Don't worry- once you start Beast, it's not going to be academics that gets you out at that point! The tests during Beast are more of placement tests. I remember taking ones for calculus and English that would place you in the honors class versus the regular class. You also take a language aptitude assessment that tests how well you could pick up a new language and based on that, you can choose your language for the school year. Other than the language aptitude test, any other academic tests you take just determine which level of the class. Some of the placement tests are "invitation only" meaning that you have to have scored a certain way on AP/IB tests in high school to even take the placement test. Hope that helps!
 
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