Would it be better for me, as a junior, to take more AP courses next year as a senior even though I might not succeed and get A's in all of them? Does it look better to colleges that I challenged myself and earned a B or C, or that I passed all my AP classes with straight A's or occasional B's?
The subjects that I want to take as AP classes are not my strongest areas, so what should I do?
(I am a Senior who has applied to both competitive private/ivy league schools and state schools for a career in STEM)
Failing AP classes does not look good, but do not use that as your only barrier. For AP's many schools weight them higher than regular classes. If you like the subject and can get B's instead of A's, that may be looked more favorable. Your colleges also look at your course rigor so you should take the hardest classes you can succeed in without failing. Senior year is not where your grades matter the most (junior year is more important in that regard) so you should focus on your passion and rigor.
Colleges can see your midpoint marks, but in harder classes they are more so looking that you are continuing to put effort in (not flunking) even if your grades are not as good as before. You should take into account how much you want to take the class (interest) along with other hard (non-AP, possibly honors or dual enrollment) classes and electives you are passionate about that are offered at your school.
TLDR: Don't write of APs senior year but consider all factors. Good luck! :)
AP's don't look good if you have terrible grades in them. Colleges want to see that you challenged yourself and then succeeded. Take AP's where you feel strong, or take a certain amount of AP's that you have time to work hard on them if you struggle.
You need a balance of rigorous classes and good grades. Good luck :)
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