10 months ago
Admissions Advice

Planning to take at most 2 AP classes during senior year. Will this hurt my application to Ivy League schools?

I am currently a junior in a high school. I never took any AP classes or Pre-College programs yet. I have 9 classes this year- only one class is below a 90% avg. I want to be in the Computer Science major and planning to apply to top schools like MIT, Princeton University, and Carnegie Mellon. However, I am planning to take only 2 AP classes next year - AP Computer Science A and AP Calculus AB. I am also not sure if I would even be able to get in AP computer science A because I haven't taken any introductory classes or AP math classes yet. My GPA by the end of my sophomore year is around a 3.0 out of 4.0. So my question is will these factors hurt my application if I only take 1 or 2 AP classes during my senior year?

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Accepted Answer
10 months ago[edited]

Hi, taking 2 AP classes will NOT hurt your application to Ivy League schools.

However, you are asking the wrong question.

What you really should be asking is that are schools like Princeton, MIT, and CMU a good fit for you and vice versa given your academic record?

If your GPA is around 3.0 after Soph year then that represents about 1/2 of your GPA and even if you get straight As for the next 3/4 semesters, your final GPA will be between 3.45 and 3.55 (if you take 2 weighted AP classes). That is far below the average GPA for the Mellon School of Computer Science which is 3.95 w/SAT score of 1570/1580 and ACT 35/36. So regardless of whether you take 1, 2, or 10 APs, can show that you are a competitive candidate for these schools with 2 full semesters to go? The same is true for schools like MIT or any of the Ivys.

I think you should be very proud of the fact that you are showing an upward trend in your grades and will end up with a 3.89 GPA (8 As, 1 B) this semester for example. That's impressive. I think that all colleges want students that can turnaround their grades. But you have to turn around your course rigor as well and I'm afraid that either your school or your past selection/performance has made that virtually impossible to do when you only have 2 semesters to go. What I mean is that most successful applicants to Ivys and Elite schools like MIT, CMU have going for them is that they have taken an average of 7-8 AP courses or IB equivalents. Some have taken additional college coursework as well if they are CS majors. It's not unusual for these applicants to take Differential Equations, Stochastic Processes, or Linear Algebra, etc under dual enrollment or outright through their community or state college. Plus they may have completed some form of academic research or independent project that exploits their knowledge of programming or higher-level math or science ability. If you apply to these schools, you will be at a disadvantage in more than 2 aspects besides your GPA or lack of APs.

Nevertheless, if you wish to be a CS major, you should pursue your dream but perhaps in more of a realistic path where you have assured a place in a class where you would fit in and thrive and challenge yourself versus being hardly able to keep up.

The great thing about higher education is that you can pick any starting point at any college, even community college, and work your way up and transfer into a better school and then apply to a better grad school and even a better Ph.D. program. No one cares where you go to undergraduate school if you can't do the work and can't apply yourself. Everyone that I know who is an adult who is successful tells me the same thing. Where you go doesn't matter as much as what you can do and who you know. So focus on applying yourself and being the best version of yourself and forget about "clout" and "elitism" for the time being. What you need to do is make sure you use your time well in the rest of high school and develop your passion for CS and possibly some kind of spike that allows application readers to view your file with interest because you are trying your best.

While other CV members and grownups might placate you and tell you to apply to those schools, I think it would be a waste of money, time, and effort. It would be better to get into a Top 20 CS school whose barrier for entry is lower and achievable. If after 2 years you want to transfer to a better school, you can do that, but give yourself enough runway to prove that you can do the work, get As in those college-level courses, and be a valued student to the institution. There are many ways to (for lack of a better term that is PC) "skin a cat" so if you know you can't get in the first time, do it another way.

Please consider adding schools like this to your college list because they are all Top 20 colleges for CS Majors:

University of Illinois

University of Washington

Georgia Tech

UT Austin

U Mich

U Wisconsin

U Maryland



U Mass Amherst

Good luck with your next full year of class, hopefully, my advice is helpful and useful to you in achieving your goals.

10 months ago

If you want to apply to a top school as a Computer Science major you'll have to beat out a lot of talented competition to be accepted. 3.0 out of 4.0 is not top school material. If you have an extraordinary extra curricular like you created an app used by millions or won a national computer science competition then that may offset your low grades and not so rigorous class selection. When going after a selective school you have to ask yourself what do I bring to a school that no one else in the country/ world does? Use CollegeVine's Calculate My Chances function and they will help steer you to colleges where you have a high probability rate of being accepted. Remember it is not necessary to go to a top school in order to be successful in your chosen field. Don't get disappointed if a top school is not in your cards.

10 months ago

it depends on the school availability, since colleges compare you to your fellow classmates. so if your school offers more than 2 ap classes and your peers are taking a much rigorous courseload, that will hurt your application.


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