• a month ago •
Admissions Advice

How much will taking half-day senior year affect my chances at ivy schools?

I'm currently a junior attending one of the bottom schools in my state. We have a very little amount of AP and honors classes available. By the time that I graduate (even with taking half day next year) I will have taken every AP available except for APUSH, both AP Spanish courses, and AP Lit. I didn't take APUSH this year because the teacher at my school makes the class super hard and the highest grade anyone ever gets is a B so I figured it wasn't worth the extra work/stress. I'm not taking AP Spanish because my school only goes up to Spanish 2 so I feel like I would be very unprepared for that class. And finally I'm not taking AP Lit because I'll be taking a English 101/102 course on campus for my senior year. My schools also got some pretty lame electives that I don't care about at all, which is the main reason I want to take the half-day option my senior year.

Since sophomore year, I have been taking a few AP classes and a few honors classes every year, giving me an unweighted GPA of 4.59 and an unweighted GPA of somewhere around 3.9-4.0. If I took half day as a senior, my schedule would probably consist of AP Gov, AP Stats, Student Council, and English 101/102. If I didn't take half-day, my schedule would have these same rigorous classes, but with more mundane classes such as culinary and art on it. These subjects have no correlation to what I want to major in (CS) and I also have no personal interest in them. The only personal downside I see to taking half-day is the fact that my class rank will most likely drop (I am currently #1).

Given all these circumstances, would it look lazy to ivy league schools if I took half day next year as a senior. I don't want to be forced to endure 2 extra classes each day, and I feel as if they wouldn't strengthen my application at all anyways.

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• a month ago[edited]

Regardless of whether you take a 1/2 day or not, the big thing that will impact your competitiveness against other seniors applying to Ivys is your hesitancy to challenge yourself with the hardest courses available at your school, in spite of your school not offering very many APs.

I think opting out of APUSH which is a fairly standard AP that 90% of high achieving HS seniors have taken doesn't look good. Also taking ENG 101/102 instead of AP Lit also appears like taking the easy breezy path. After all, all the colleges you apply will scrutinize your School Profile and know how many advanced courses your school offered and whether or not you took full advantage of that.

Most successful admits at any of the 8 Ivys have between 7 and 12 APs or a full IB diploma. In admission, at least 1/2 of them have taken DE Dual Enrollment classes at C.C.s or State schools (in person or online), and some of even taken online college course in advanced Math or STEM courses.

You might be the Valedictorian at your HS but remember there are more Valedictorians in the US than there are seats at Ivy League colleges, so if attending an Ivy is really the game plan for you, I would honestly say that your doing yourself a disservice by not finishing strong enough to compete with other applicants.

I would seriously recommend taking two online college courses over the summer. And taking AP Lit and APush senior year. Student council really isn't going to help you get into an Ivy as much as having the requisite course rigor and doing well in your APs. It won't matter if you get a 5 on them since you'll know your college decision well before Mid May, but it would certainly help if you got As in your APs.

You didn't mention if you have high SAT or ACT score or not. At some Ivys about 75% of successful admits submitted test scores last cycle so there is a clear advantage for submitting a high score. If part of your academic narrative has gaps in it, supplementing your application with high test scores give the colleges some assurance.

The other critical component is your ability to craft and wordsmith an excellent college essay. These days its become increasingly more important to have superior writing ability, especially expository writing ability. This is another reasons why taking AP Lit will help you. The more writing practice you have and the better writer you become, these skills will serve you well in your college career. Keep in mind that at least 2 Ivys (Brown and Princeton) have graded paper components to their college applications so you want to show that you know how to write a good critical analysis.

Wishing you all the best. My intention is only to give you the best advice that I'm aware of.

• a month ago

This is a very specific situation you have. I would suggest not taking half day your senior year just because colleges never like to see that. Even if the extra classes you take aren’t related to your major and aren’t academic, they still show that you put effort it to challenge yourself with all your school has to offer. If you take a half day, colleges will wonder why you’re only taking 4 classes (really 3 because student council doesn’t really count), and you won’t really have a good explanation. Also being #1 out of a school that publishes rank is really impressive! Don’t let that drop.

But that’s just my take, do what you think is best for you :)


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