4 months ago
Admissions Advice

Would it look bad to replace a history class with an AP science class?

I’m considering not taking AP US Hist and instead switching it for AP Bio, but this would mean I’d only have 3 history classes.

I want to Major in either comp sci, or something related to biology / chemistry. If I took AP US Hist, this would mean I would be unable to take AP bio in a reasonable schedule that would work for me (less than 4 AP classes I’m my junior year). I’m heavily considering doing this, as AP bio is something that seems much more interesting to me than AP US Hist, and would probably be more valuable for what I’m planning on majoring in.

Would doing this actually hurt me instead of helping me? I wouldn’t be able to get an advance diploma (4+ core classes), because I’d only have 3 Hist.

What should I do?


Main colleges I'm planning on applying to: UVA, VA Tech, and uni of Washington

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3 answers

Accepted Answer
4 months ago[edited]

Hi there! This is a really thoughtful question, and I'm glad you're asking it because scheduling is something lots of students stress about.

As others have said, it's important to take classes in your potential fields of interest because (1) it will demonstrate your interest well for your application, (2) you'll get to see if you actually like that subject, and (3) it will prepare you to take classes in that department once you get to college. On the other hand, you don't want to shortchange yourself on other important disciplines, even if they are outside your future major.

In your particular situation, I would recommend taking AP Biology. It is better aligned with your interests, so it will buttress your indicated majors on an application, and if it is something you are seriously considering pursuing as a degree, you're more likely to enjoy biology than you would US history! Further, if you will have three other history classes under your belt by the time you graduate, there is no danger of looking as though you underappreciated the history aspect of your education -- just that it wasn't your preference. In addition, the schools to which you're applying, especially Virginia Tech and UW, are known for their STEM programs, so it is likely that they will value your strong performance in biology over an equally strong showing in a social science or humanities course.

The only scenario in which I can see this being a detriment to your application is if you change gears in the next year or so and decide you want to major in history; then, admissions officers would definitely question why you eschewed an opportunity to take history (or something similar, like political science) in favor of a science class. That's possible but doesn't sound likely, and in any case, schools recognize that people change their interests and majors several times even after they matriculate. To add to this, most students won't be applying with advanced diplomas; as long as the other parts of your application are well-crafted, this shouldn't be a problem for you. The exception to this is if nearly everyone from your school is receiving an advanced diploma, in which case it could raise some eyebrows if you don't complete it. If this is the situation, feel free to address your decision in the Additional Information section of your application, but if it is not (as I suspect is the case), then I don't think you need to explain it at all.

Ultimately, you can't go wrong either way, so best of luck in making the decision and in the rest of your college admissions journey!

4 months ago

Colleges will want you to take courses your passionate in. Take AP Bio if you think it'll mean more to you in the future.

4 months ago

Personally, I would take the AP Bio class because colleges want to see that you take classes in things that you are passionate about.


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