Hi, I'm a current Junior and I am interested in applying to very selective schools such as UCLA, Stanford, Columbia, etc.
I have recently created my schedule for senior year, but I'm worried whether or not these schools will care that I have not taken Physics. I took honors bio freshman year, honors chem sophomore year, anatomy and physiology this year, and am planning on taking AP Bio and AP Psych next year.
I am planning on going into either medicine or law (very different paths I know), neither of which are physics-heavy.
Will these top schools reject my application if they see I haven't taken physics? If yes, should I take AP Physics instead of Bio? If not, is there anything I should do to further strengthen my chances?
If you are thinking about becoming a doctor many would argue that knowledge of physics is important and helpful. I read an excerpt from realclearscience.com which said:
"After all, physics underpins a great many of medicine's current and future practices and technologies, like X-rays, radiotherapy, and minimal-access surgery. A 2012 editorial from the Institute of Physics argued that "medicine is likely to become an information science, where a vast amount of complex data are analyzed by techniques such as machine learning to discover patterns and principles." If there's one thing that physics teaches well, it's how to be detail-oriented.
But physics is beneficial to doctors at an even more basic level. As one enlightened Internet commenter mused, understanding heat transfer comes in handy for dealing with frostbite, hypothermia, and fevers. Simple mechanics elucidates the motion of joints. Fluid dynamics are vital for understanding the circulatory system. Most importantly, physics and other hard sciences rigorously train students in the scientific method, which is foundational to modern medicine. Yes, to the prospective medical student, physics class is a solid barrier. But if they pay attention, they just might realize the force that will smash that barrier to bits. "
You should consider taking physics in HS or perhaps online if you don't want to take it at your HS, especially if you are considering a medical career as a doctor.
Many selective colleges do recommend taking physics in high school. Physics is a math intensive course, meaning that it shows both your science and mathematical abilities (unlike most lab science classes). That being said, it sounds like you are still planning to take a rigorous course load next year (with both AP Bio and AP Psych). One note is that some high schools consider AP Psych a science class, and other schools consider it a social science. If your school considers it a social science, colleges will usually also look at it as a social science (similar to history, government, or Econ). If your school considers it a science class, colleges will see that you have taken two science classes junior year and will consider this in the admissions process. The lack of a physics class will not cause them to automatically reject your application. To study medicine, I think AP Bio would actually look stronger than AP Physics (since it is more or a lab science than an intensive math class). AP Psych would be a useful class for either a career in medicine or law. Physics (though perhaps less relevant for your career path) is a difficult class, so it can demonstrate academic preparation to colleges.
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