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Is a "rigorous" senior year important? Are 3-4 classes enough?)


74Heaven
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I want her to "take it easy a bit" and she may be working 10 or so hours a week. This daughter is *not* the best time manager/organizer. (She wants to take another science, poss. AP, & do some volunteering. in addition to the 4 classes I am "okay" with.)

 

I am the one who wants to limit - and I can see very clearly that she will overload herself and regret it. She has only one AP class this year and struggles with the homework of 7 classes, incl Bible.) With the "lighter" 4 class senior load, she will take 2 AP classes (English and Calc), 4th year Spanish and Bible. She will have 5 or 10 college credits after this year. AND probably will earn 10-15more (quarter) college credits her senior year.)

 

Do you think this "light" senior year class schedule will be a detriment on her college applications or will it have *no* effect? With the above 4 senior classes, she will have 4years of math (+Alg in 8th grade), 4 years of English, 4 years of Spanish (+ one year in 8th gr), 4 years of science (plus she took Biol. in 8th grade) but only 3 years of history. As you can see, she basically started high school in 8th grade; she took Algebra 1, Span 1, 1st Year High School Latin & Biology in 9th grade.

 

She will be a very young high school senior as she will *not* be 18 until the first month of college.

 

Thoughts?

Lisaj

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This is a difficult question to answer, really. My best advice is to ask the college where you think your dd will most likely go if it is OK.

 

It would not be OK for our state's U where I was pretty sure DS would head. In several informational sessions we heard over and over that senior year needed to be as rigorous as junior year if the student was to have a shot at being admitted. In person I was also told that they looked for seniors to have at least as rigorous a senior year as their junior year---since junior year DS took 4 AP classes plus other classes then he should have 4 AP classes senior year plus other classes. I also learned in these informational sessions that this U looked for kids who took at least 5 if not 6 classes senior year since that is what the kids would be carrying their freshman year. This would not be true at other colleges which is why it is really important to ask the college. I didn't receive this message at the other schools DS considered but since the local U was most likely where he would head we made his senior year rigorous. YMMV.

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I don't think it is too light, but adding in either a science class or history class could help. I'd pick something less rigorous, like Enviromental Science. It could also be a good idea to do a basic science as dual enrollment at the CC, just to get experience in a college science lab, colleges like to see documented lab experience. I'd also definitely encourage the volunteering your daughter wants to do.

 

For many students I think 2 AP courses is plenty for the senior year. I can tell you that my daughter who is a senior gets less motivated with every college acceptance that comes in, so getting these last courses finished is a struggle. I can't imagine how stressed she would be if she was looking at taking 3 or 4 AP exams this June - she is ready to be done with high school. She even has friends who finished up their high school work in Jan. and are taking a gap semester.

 

The other thing to consider is that doing college applications and essays takes time, and you need to allow for that. My daughter still has a few college scholarship essays to finish up, and she has been working on college application stuff since August. But you should look into the colleges your daughter wants to attend, if you are trying for Ivy League or something really hard to get into her schedule might not be enough.

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The schools that dd applied to would not have considered that enough. Most look at the senior year as preparation for the freshman year. They like to see that the student would be able to handle 15 credit hours of college level work...that they are in tip top study mode shape and haven't slacked off.

 

That said, you need to check with the schools she is interested in applying to and you need to have a good idea what she will major in. Most kids majoring in humities, elementary education, computer science carry only 15 credit hours per semester. But, music majors, pre-med or any medical related major, engineering, pre-vet, and anyone double majoring, may carry more in that second semester. Usually colleges limit the first semester to 15 unless the student petitions the dean for more and can show they can handle it. I was a music major and never had less than 18 credit hours per semester. Five three credit classes plus two credits of piano lessons and one credit of orchestra - some semesters more than that.

 

Faith

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The schools that dd applied to would not have considered that enough. Most look at the senior year as preparation for the freshman year. They like to see that the student would be able to handle 15 credit hours of college level work...that they are in tip top study mode shape and haven't slacked off.

 

 

 

There was a movement back in the '90's to tighten up the senior year. I cannot tell you how many students that I had who entered college without having a single final exam their senior year! (This was in the late '80's.) It seemed that students felt that once those applications were mailed, their work was finished for the year.

 

What has also changed is the number of required courses. For example, students applying to NC universities need four years of math. This with other requirements means that senior years have gotten a bit more rigorous.

 

Back to the OP who wrote:

I am the one who wants to limit - and I can see very clearly that she will overload herself and regret it. She has only one AP class this year and struggles with the homework of 7 classes, incl Bible.) With the "lighter" 4 class senior load, she will take 2 AP classes (English and Calc), 4th year Spanish and Bible. She will have 5 or 10 college credits after this year. AND probably will earn 10-15more (quarter) college credits her senior year.)

 

I see three or four classes: AP English, AP Calc, Spanish and Bible (not sure if Bible is a class). Plus...however many more classes from the CC which are worth 10-15 quarter hour credits. This looks like more than "3-4" courses to me. What am I missing?

 

Jane (who thought she had had enough coffee this morning!)

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I think that 2 AP classes in her Senior year is just fine, IF she is not hoping to attend an Ivy League or Highly Selective/Selective college. She will have to round out her schedule with a few other classes, though. They need not be traditional Literature or Physics classes, but they need to be something.

 

Do not rush your daughter. Let her go at her own pace. It is better that she have a solid foundation under her belt than an overwhelming schedule where nothing gets completed. If she does well with those 2 AP classes then she can take the exams and, hopefully, pass and get college credit.

 

The public high schools where I live (mid-Florida, A rated district) encourage Seniors to take 2 AP courses or 2 DE courses; the rest of the day is spent either in an Internship (volunteer work) and/or maybe an elective or two which is required for graduation. These are average college-bound students. Of course, those wanting to go into the Sciences might have to up the ante, IF they want to go into a stellar Science program at the college level. But then again, one of our state universities FSU has their pre-med track online, and it assumes the student has earned no prior college credit in AP or DE classes in high school. So no, not everybody is going into college fully loaded.

 

Here in Florida the college Freshman are only allowed to take 12 credit hours --4 classes of 3 credit hours each--their first year. ONE of those classes is called something like "Freshman Living" or " Adjusting to College Life". That leaves 3 academic classes per semester. [if a student wants to take more than 4 classes s/he has to petition].

 

I am saying all this to support you because my DD, also, is one of those who has poor organization skills (ADD). She works much better with fewer classes and more in-depth, focused study, as she is not one to rush through her work. She reads everything; takes careful notes, makes flashcards, takes practice exams, etc. Her goal is to make an A in each class. We've concluded that this is her learning style and it is what works for her.

 

That said, she just turned 18 yesterday and this is what her final semester in high school looks like: DE World History 3 credits; DE Intermediate Algebra 3 credits; DE Chemistry w/Lab 4 credits; and DE Intermediate Spanish 4 credits. One of these DE (Dual Enrollment) classes is taken at a comm coll campus, and the remainder are taken online. That's 14 credit hours.

 

Keep in mind that AP classes run all year, whereas DE courses--usually for the same number of credits if the AP exam score is a 3 or 4--run for only half a year.

 

I have filled out DD's homeschool schedule with one "mommy" course, a Dance elective. She practices 2x a week and performs once a month for money; she's also a certified Zumba instructor who has a 1x a week class. Believe me, she works harder than she would ever work in a public high school P/E class!

 

RE:your case, just fill out her schedule in other areas. Call the Volunteer job something more than that--a Senior Internship in ______? Also, instead of Bible, you might want to have her study Ancient History through a Biblical Perspective (or something like that) and use a college text.

 

And yes, as the others have suggested, consider your state's h/s graduation requirements as well as college requirements.

Edited by distancia
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That is what my son did. He took everything required overall...just got most of it done early! On his transcripts, I didn't put what he took every year, but simply listed what he took in each category. This way, he was not being judged by what he took each year, but what he finished by the time of graduation.

 

Throughout the years, many things he studied -- some just independently because he was interested, such as European History -- prepared him for the AP exams. So during his senior year, he did end up taking 5 AP exams (only two of them based on actual classes) and passed them.

 

The fact that he took only four "real" classes his senior year, to me, doesn't diminish what he learned and accomplished over the years.

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Agreeing here with CathieC. DD applied to 13 colleges/universities and not one of them accepted any "high school" level classes accomplished in 8th grade. Only those courses completed in the last four years of school, were accepted.

 

If the institution does not require a year by year (what year was the coursework completed) transcript than it would probably be fine. Every college dd applied to wanted the coursework listed in the year in which it was completed and since she was a "young birthday", it was absolutely blatantly obvious that having accomplished algebra in the year she turned 13, that this wasn't done in the last four years of school since (same thing with Physical Science even though that is a 9th grade level class around here) she was going to be entering college at 18.

 

We ended up generating two different kinds of transcripts...one was quarterly for a private college that expected a very detailed breakdown from homeschoolers along with curriculum and reading lists, and the other was by semester with a lot less detail and no curriculum list.

 

You just need to make a list of possible schools and then check into what each one wants to see and what would be a negative so that you can put the transcript being sent to that school in a positive light.

 

Faith

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Thanks! As usual, you all are a wealth of knowledge. She is taking classes at a high school that has an agreement with a local university to give college credit for the Spanish courses. The other "possible credits" will be if she passes the AP exams?

 

I suppose that some universities might not even count the Bible credit; making her year look pretty light. I'll think about it some more. Dual enrollment or community college isn't a very good option for us because of commute time.

 

My poor daughter is quite concerned because she can't make up her mind what she wants to study in college. It was biology for years. Earlier this school year, she thought biology, then she wanted to do pre-med and then changed to a becoming pilot and then biology again. She is sometimes quite frustrated that she hasn't decided yet. I try to tell her there's no hurry but she gets worried because she feels like she has to know to pick a college.

 

Thanks again! Great thread.

Lisa J

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74Heaven,

 

It's tough when kids feel really pressured at 18 to know exactly what they want to do in life and then pick a college, training program, etc. that will get them there. Would a gap year be out of the question? She could do some volunteer work, spend some time with people working in her fields of interest, etc.

 

Other than that, if she has thought about biology a lot in the past, it's okay for her to pick a well rounded institution with a good biology program but a wealth of other majors so she could switch if it wasn't a good fit. She doesn't have to attend a top tier school in some program in order to be successful later on. A decent state school is a good option. Pick one that shows a good emphasis and reputation in the sciences but also humanities. That way she'll have a lot of options which will hopefully take the pressure off.

 

It seems like the pressure starts very young on children these days.

 

Faith

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