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My DS (14.5) has been accepted into a great, selective boarding school a few hours from home. It was his choice to apply. He has always been homeschooled and has thrived for the most part. We have, however, recently thought that he is sort of outgrowing our little pond, even though we have a great, vibrant, active local scene. (We are a good 3 hours away from a major city.)

DS needs 2 more courses to graduate from High School - one English and one Social Studies course. His grades are stellar. He has a perfect GPA, is the concertmaster of our local orchestra, etc. - he is a great kid with a kind heart - we are very, very blessed.

Anyway, in selecting his courses for the new school year, the school suggests he enters into grade 11. I'm fine with that, but I don't really want him to graduate 2 years early. I'd prefer he stays in school 3 more years and take a whole bunch or courses that looks interesting or that he is curious about...like you would offer a child in gr. 9. The school proposes this:

Grade 11
AP Seminar
Literary Studies 11
Calculus 12
Strings 11 
PE 11 
AP Physics 1
AP Bio 
Outdoor Leadership 12 (outside the timetable)
 
Grade 12
AP Research
AP English Literature
AP Calc BC
AP Physics 
AP Chem
AP Micro/Macroeconomics
Strings 12
 
It looks like to much to me. He is giving up Spanish and Computer Science (a recent discovery of his that he is really enjoying.) This does not take into account that he is a serious violinist which would like to finish his Royal Conservatory Gr. 10 violin exam next year. Etc. etc. One of the reasons for wanting to attend school is so that he will have the opportunity to explore and partake in their many extra curricular activities - I worry that with this plan, he will be stuck to his desk - exactly as he is now as a homeschooled kid taking a lot on (wonderful) online classes. 
 
The whole AP thing is new to us (we are Canadian) - so I don't really know...does this seem doable for a 14.5 year old, bright boy with great work ethic, executive functioning and time management skills, or is this simply just too much?

 

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Whether it is too much depends on

1) how much time his violin takes (school, orchestra, his own practice time)

2) how much homework the school teachers give 

Both my kids did AP Physics C with AP Chemistry in 8th grade. DS14 took AP Calculus BC in 7th, AP Micro/Macroeconomics in summer before 9th grade. DS13 took AP Calculus BC and AP Micro/Macroeconomics this summer. So both my kids spread those courses out.

For 2020, AP Physics 1 exam is on May 7, AP Biology on May 11th, AP Seminar on May 12th. Tiring but doable.

https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses/exam-dates-and-fees/exam-dates-2020

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I can’t say whether it’s too much, but I would not agree to eleventh grade if it means dropping Spanish and Computer Science and not giving him opportunities to explore electives and fully participate in the life of the school. I’m actually surprised a selective boarding school would be so focused on AP classes rather than their own rigorous courses.

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8 hours ago, Tsutsie said:

Grade 11

AP Seminar
Literary Studies 11
Calculus 12
Strings 11 
PE 11 
AP Physics 1
AP Bio 
Outdoor Leadership 12 (outside the timetable)
 
Grade 12
AP Research
AP English Literature
AP Calc BC
AP Physics 
AP Chem
AP Micro/Macroeconomics
Strings 12
 
One of the reasons for wanting to attend school is so that he will have the opportunity to explore and partake in their many extra curricular activities - I worry that with this plan, he will be stuck to his desk - exactly as he is now as a homeschooled kid taking a lot on (wonderful) online classes. 
 

 

He'll have more time if you can replace some of these classes with a free period or two.  

Is the senior year physics AP Physics C (Mech +/- EM)?  If so, then you can skip AP Physics 1 his junior year.  It isn't a prerequisite.  

I think one AP science class per year is plenty.  More than one and you risk spreading yourself too thin and earning a low score.  

What's the difference between Calculus 12 and Calculus BC?  I'd just have him take Calc BC his junior year and maybe discrete math his senior year.  (Although Calc BC can be taken concurrently with AP Physics C, I recommend taking it a year prior if possible.)  

AP econ is supposed to be good, but it's definitely skippable if he'd rather take more computer science.  

I'm not familiar with AP seminar and AP research...I'd say those are skippable.  

Now, see you have plenty of free time!  

Edited by daijobu
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AP Chem, Physics, and Lit in a single year seems over the top to me. Calculus and Econ... less so, but it still adds a good bit. Especially for senior year while he's applying to college for a student with a serious arts focus (violin). That's a lot. Chem and Lit are both really tough exams for most kids. Of course it depends on what sort of student he is - some kids thrive with this sort of challenging schedule.

Very few students overall do AP seminar and research. What would be his topics, do you know?

The 11th grade year seems more well rounded - the PE and outdoor leadership give him some outlets, for example. But AP Bio is a pretty hefty class. You can only do so much - choices have to be made. But giving up subjects he likes seems not great. And does he have 3+ Spanish credits already? Languages are one of those things it's better to keep going with if you can, especially if you're motivated.

For a driven, bright kid who needs a challenge, I think you can go lots of directions... one would be this direction the school has proposed. It's basically do as many traditionally impressive academic things as possible as fast as possible along with his violin. Other than the violin, it doesn't seem like a very personalized path, but that's okay. It's still a relatively impressive one. Another path might be to do those things and a few others but slower path. Another might be to not do this boarding school and instead get him those credits and send him to college much sooner. You say he's really only lacking a few credits to graduate from high school. If that's really the case and he's really ready for college work, then holding him back by making him work harder may not be the best path. Or it might be. It's really hard to know.

 

 

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imo, that amount of those particular classes for a curious, intelligent, creative kid is a drudgery. Add that third year on and split those classes up a bit! Add in Spanish and Computer Science this year, and whatever else strikes his fancy over the next two years!

Just because a kid is "smart" doesn't mean we have to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at him all at once. Your son sounds like he wants to explore new topics and take on new challenges. That mix of AP classes isn't going to allow for that, imho. A kid doesn't need Calc 12 AND AP Calc BC. Just take AP Calc BC in grade 11 and AP Stats or something else in grade 12. Kid doesn't need AP Physics 1 AND AP Physics C. Just take AP Physics C after Calc BC.

Take some History! Or basket weaving, for crying out loud! 🙂

(and congrats to your son on his achievements!!!) 😊 Just don't let them murder his natural love of learning with their desire to increase their school's AP score stats!

Edited by easypeasy
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Hi! 🙂

That proposed Grade 12 line-up is making me hyperventilate. Yes...too much. We found that the senior year tends to have a lot of "extras" that we never considered (on top of the expected college apps/essays/visits/testing/jobs/girlfriends/friends/extracurriculars/hobbies), so I was very glad that both of my sons had a slightly lighter schedule the senior year (not wimpy...but still lighter). 

Does the school offer some computer science/programming courses? If there is anyway to continue his study of Spanish and computer science, he needs to find a way to do so.

And like everyone else has said, he definitely doesn't need AP Physics 1 and AP Physics C. I'd skip the AP Physics 1...it has limited use in the scheme of things. 

Can you talk the school into 3 years? What does your son think? Does he want to finish high school in 2 years?

(((HUGS))) for the boarding school-thing several hours away, too. That's gotta be a tough call. 

Jetta

 

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My sample size of two high schools do not do AP Research and Seminar very well.  It's rather thrown together and the teachers aren't super trained.  I would make very sure that it is worth while before doing it, otherwise it will be all drudgery and hoops to jump through.  

I have also heard to just skip AP physics 1.  Not worth it. 

I would not do six AP's senior year.  I know people who have done so, but imo it's really not worth it to spread oneself so thin for so little reward.  If he is STEM, focus on STEM AP's.  If he is humanities, focus on humanities.  My daughter did a ton of AP's in high school, but it was still only the ones she was interested in.  So lots of humanities and no science (well, AP Environmental Science, but that was a lot easier than the harder sciences) . 

Also colleges don't even get the scores until after the student has been accepted.  

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8 hours ago, SanDiegoMom in VA said:

I would not do six AP's senior year.  I know people who have done so, but imo it's really not worth it to spread oneself so thin for so little reward.  If he is STEM, focus on STEM AP's.  If he is humanities, focus on humanities.  ...

Also colleges don't even get the scores until after the student has been accepted.  

 

👍

And, if he's planning on continuing with music (and, thus, will be doing auditions during his senior year...), no way, no HOW should he have that many random APs on his plate!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you all for your replies. It is much appreciated. How does this slightly revised plan look? It's really mostly about his grade 11 year. I  have learned not to plan too far ahead - the grade 12 plan might be crazy or completely doable - time will tell. He will then be 16.5 when he graduates. At that time, I will advocate for an exchange or some for of gap year. (And to get university applications done, take an SAT if he wants to go to the US, etc.)

Grade 11
AP Seminar
AP Biology
AP Statistics
Calculus 12
Literary Studies 11
Strings 11 
PE 11
Computer Programming 12 (Outside of timetable - he is 1/2-way with Derek Owens CS' course. The school will give him this credit.) The school really wants him to do the AP Capstone Diploma. Since I don't think it would be terrible for Marcus, and they are giving us $45,000 in Scholarship money....I think it's ok. From what I understand, he can make this all about something that he is interested in anyway.
 
Grade 12
AP Research
AP Physics C 
AP Chem
AP Micro/Macroeconomics
AP Calculus BC
English 12
Strings 12
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Some things got shuffled around and the AP lit got dropped, but AP Stats got added. This plan doesn't force him to give up computer science, which he enjoys, but otherwise, it seems to be almost exactly as intense as the previous plan. In terms of most of the concerns that people raised, I think it's got the exact same issues. If keeping the comp sci and dropping the AP Lit has helped make him happy in looking at it, then maybe the changes are what you guys needed. And, like I said in my comment above, some kids thrive with these sorts of schedules. But if you're really concerned about this being too much, I don't see it as being substantially different. 

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We also dropped AP Physics 1 which was scheduled in gr. 11.

If math comes fairly easy, would stats not be even easier? He is only 14.5, but is not sure if he is interested in a career in science or in business - I'm trying to help him build a plan which will allow him to explore both.  I am not sure if he will attend university early, but I would like to keep that option open, if he chooses to do so.

 

 

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Any student even considering this path is going to be a student for whom academics generally come easy. But the time you have to put in to excel at a path like this is still going to be pretty high. Just because math is easy doesn't mean that calculus and AP stats are going to take minimal time. It may be the right path for him. But it's definitely an intense path with a very generalized trying to look good to colleges focus. That's fine if that's right for him. Some kids are generally good at a wide array of stuff, enjoy traditional school, don't have a singular focus yet, and are aiming for very selective schools.

But there's no way I'm not going to say this is a lot. Because it just is.

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Farrar, Thank you for your response. I appreciate your input. I have NO idea what an AP course looks like or the workload thereof.

Do you have any suggestions on how to order those courses so that his first year will be a bit lighter? I would say that he is the sort of kid that does enjoy traditional school and does very well with fairly little effort - this is also one of the reasons I want to challenge him a bit - but not overwhelm him. He *thinks* he is working hard - but he has no idea what working hard looks like. He works 4 days a week, 9 - 3 and reads the assigned books while we drive or listens to it on audiobook while he walks the dogs. He has never had to study for anything, he has seldom had to figure out math or science that he does not understand from the textbook, etc. 

(Selective universities in the US would be great, but the cost of it might be simply impossible. The best universities in Canada are at most 1/3 of the price and are not as crazily competitive.)

This past academic year he completed the following courses. Would he be well set-up for the proposed courses?

WHA Pre-AP Biology
WHA Great Conversations 3
WHA Spanish
WHA Academic Writing
Pre-Calculus 12
Physical Education 10 (required by province)
Career Planning 10 (required by province)
Music 12

The year before:
WHA Pre-AP Chemistry
WHA Great Conversations 1
WHA Logic 1
WHA Expository Writing
Pre-Calculus 11
Latin III
Music 11


 

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Maybe someone else can speak to Wilson Hill... they have a great reputation, but how are they going to compare with an AP heavy load at what sounds like an intensive private school? I genuinely don't know. He obviously did not have a light schedule for the last two years and he's also clearly been able to perform high school level academic work from a young age, which is impressive. It sounds like he's capable of this step. Whether or not it will really be that much more work, I don't know.

In terms of challenge... it's just so hard to say. Some students are challenged by AP's. Others find them not that challenging, but time consuming to do the prepwork and consume all that information. Right now, this schedule doesn't give him a ton of depth per se. AP has become synonymous with "academically good" in our culture, but AP exams are decidedly not the mark of depth or challenge to many of us. Like, if math comes easy to him and he's not getting a challenge, my first thought wouldn't necessarily be, make sure he takes more AP math courses, but rather, have they tried AoPS? If academics in general are easy, I wouldn't necessarily think, pile on as many AP's as you can, but rather, maybe he needs to try studying something in depth or taking a university class or doing independent research. I don't know your son. So he might work really hard and love this. He might work really hard and not love it. He might not have to work that hard, but find it tedious to get it done, which would be a pretty negative outcome if you ask me. But if they have a really good teacher leading those AP capstones, then that could enliven this a great deal more. Who knows.

It sounds like you have a scholarship and this is the path. It's a path that's a lot. It sounds like he's capable of a lot. Whether he'll thrive or not is impossible to say. I hope it works out!

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1 hour ago, Tsutsie said:

Do you have any suggestions on how to order those courses so that his first year will be a bit lighter? I would say that he is the sort of kid that does enjoy traditional school and does very well with fairly little effort - this is also one of the reasons I want to challenge him a bit - but not overwhelm him. He *thinks* he is working hard - but he has no idea what working hard looks like. He works 4 days a week, 9 - 3 and reads the assigned books while we drive or listens to it on audiobook while he walks the dogs. He has never had to study for anything, he has seldom had to figure out math or science that he does not understand from the textbook, etc. 

 

 

Grade 11
AP Seminar -->  ??? skip this one
AP Biology  --> solid
AP Statistics --> easy
Calculus 12  What is the difference between this calculus class and AP Calc BC in 12th grade?  For a mathy kid, I recommend going straight to AP Calc BC.
Literary Studies 11
Strings 11 
PE 11
Computer Programming 12 (Outside of timetable - he is 1/2-way with Derek Owens CS' course. The school will give him this credit.) The school really wants him to do the AP Capstone Diploma. Since I don't think it would be terrible for Marcus, and they are giving us $45,000 in Scholarship money....I think it's ok. From what I understand, he can make this all about something that he is interested in anyway.
 
Grade 12
AP Research-->  ??? skip this one too.
AP Physics C 
AP Chem
AP Calculus BC  -->  Yikes!  These are 3 solid courses.  I'd move AP Calc BC to 11th grade just to give him a chance to breathe his senior year.
AP Micro/Macroeconomics
English 12
Strings 12

 

AP Stats is easy and should be doable with AP bio in 11th grade.  I'm a little concerned about AP calculus BC AND AP Physics C AND AP Chemistry all in one year.  Those are 3 very solid AP courses and may overwhelm a student who isn't mathy or lacks solid EF skills.  The word "overwhelming" comes to mind.  

Why is he doubling up on science his senior year?

You say your student doesn't know how to study.  Either he's going to learn very fast his senior year...or he's going to crash and burn. 

I know very little about AP "seminar" and AP "research", but there's a risk that they were suck more time away from your student's schedule than advertised.  And there's little to gain.  Drop those.  

Having said that, my dd, who has excellent EF skills took these AP classes her junior year:  APUSH, AP lang and comp, AP calc BC, and AP Physics C.  So it is doable, but like I said, she's very organized, had lots of experience taking AP classes so she knew the drill, and didn't attend bm let alone boarding school.  She also took NO AP CLASSES her senior year, leaving time for applying to colleges, her internship, and life in general.  

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What kind of colleges is he looking at? Most top ones in the US will want to see four years of the same foreign language, but I don’t know about Canada. And I guess if he did an exchange year, he would likely reach that level or greater through immersion. The eleventh grade year looks more balanced now, although I’m not sure about the need to do Calc both years if he is strong in math. Doing Calc BC in eleventh and AP Stats in twelfth might lighten the load a bit for senior year, as long as he has had a strong precalc class and the school doesn’t consider Calculus 12 a prerequisite for Calc BC. Otherwise, the senior year still looks quite intense.

Some kids thrive in a very traditional, college bound path such as the one you’ve laid out. You know your son best. 

 

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2 hours ago, Tsutsie said:

WHA Pre-AP Biology
WHA Great Conversations 3
WHA Spanish
WHA Academic Writing
Pre-Calculus 12
Physical Education 10 (required by province)
Career Planning 10 (required by province)
Music 12

The year before:
WHA Pre-AP Chemistry
WHA Great Conversations 1
WHA Logic 1
WHA Expository Writing
Pre-Calculus 11
Latin III
Music 11


 

 

I'm not familiar with "WHA", but by the time my student was junior, she had been taking AP classes since 8th grade: AP CS A, AP chemistry, AP stats, and AP bio.  

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