I'm a junior from India. I want to major in Economics and I'm planning on applying to the most competitive schools (Ivy League, Stanford, UChicago, etc..). I have registered myself for AP Calculus AB and AP Microeconomics scheduled for May 2021. In addition I'm also writing my Cambridge International AS Level Exams in Maths, Psychology, Economics, Chemistry, Physics and English Language. Moreover I will be writing my SAT Subject Tests in Math 2 and Chemistry this December. Is this a competitive profile for a student planning on majoring in Economics and would these qualifications in a wide variety of subjects show rigor and challenging coursework?
Also, did I really need to take AP's? Will they make me stand out from the rest since I'm self studying for them as an international student? If yes, then should I go for more AP's next year or just stick to these two?
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For many selective schools, it is critical that you demonstrate what we like to call at CollegeVine "The Success Principle". In essence, if you want to apply for economics a top US schools you need to demonstrate that you have a specific interest through your activities as well as be able to convince those reading your application that you will have future success in their college and beyond. Taking standardized tests and classes that align with this field of interest is a great first step. Beyond this, to make yourself more competitive I would suggest taking part in activities related to Economics (e.g. school club, external organization, internship, speech and debate, etc.) at a high level. Ideally you can do activities that have high impact and show your ability to take on more advanced roles that are rarer for high school students. This is really essential to drive home the point that you are passionate about Economics and have projected success in this field.
Taking AP courses is a great way to increase the rigor of your course load. However, note that AP exams are really only valuable if you can achieve awards that come secondary to scoring highly on the exams. Achieving awards like the National AP scholar award (achieved after taking 8 APs and scoring 4+ on each) or AP scholar with distinction award will help you put another impressive accolade on your resume.
Any self-study will definitely help you to stand out and help show colleges how you go above and beyond to challenge yourself and learn! You could do this by pursuing an internship or extra course (I know Colombia and some other schools have offered virtual weekend courses this year), or by self-studying AP if that is how you feel you could best showcase your academic interests and abilities. I would start by making a year-long plan to self-study those two, and then once you've started, see if you feel like you'll have time to commit to adding other courses and doing well. Good luck on all those tests, and on the college admissions process!
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