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  1. #1
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    Default Questions on AP Capstone --Research class vs. 3 years of language

    aaargggh. I hate picking classes with my kids. We have to make some decisions for DS. He really is interested in urban planning/design. We are looking at colleges in the 5-10K person range, all on the west coast. He may or may not be interested in Civil Engineering. He currently has a 3.8 in a rigorous curriculum--but not top of the line due to his processing speed/dyslexia issues and his anxiety. Please help us decide between an AP Research class vs. a 3rd year of language.

    For Senior year, he will have AP US Government and AP English Language. He has had 2 AP classes a year since he was a sophomore and does well with them. His course plan is currently something like:
    AP US Government
    AP English Language
    Physics (just regular-not honors or AP)
    Calculs (just regular, not AP)
    Peer Ministry (he goes to a Catholic School so he has to take religious ed every year)
    Oceanography/Astronomy (he has been looking forward to these classes since he was a freshman)

    Then there are 2 classes we have to figure out what to do with. He can take Theater IV--he likes theater a great deal, so he probably will do that for one class. He can take AP Research and get an AP Capstone Diploma. But that's a 3rd AP class and its an elective--it doesn't count as his English credit. The Capstone Diploma looks good--but how good??? And----he only has 2 years of language. I know he really, really needs 3 years to be competitive for college admissions. The dyslexia makes learning a second language hard for him. He did well in Spanish 1 & 2 but those were easy classes. Spanish 3 steps it up a notch. I *might* be able to get him to take a Spanish class over the summer at the local Community College or something like that. But it seems to me that having him take Spanish 3 is important. I wonder about the wisdom of taking the 3rd AP class when he hasn't even fulfilled the preferred (in some cases, required), language classes. He is hoping to claim the dyslexia card to get out of languages but I think that's a no go.

    For reference, the colleges we are looking at are along the lines of Gonzaga, University of Santa Cruz, University of Portland, University of Denver, etc. So not Stanford or Cal Poly, etc.

    TIA in advance for your thoughts!!!
    Mom to:
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    DD '05
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    RIP Andy, the furry first child, 1996-2012

    "The task of any religion is not to tell us who we are entitled to hate but to teach us who we are required to love."

  2. #2
    AnnieW625's Avatar
    AnnieW625 is offline Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    Language in college was harder than in high school; a semester in college was the equivalent to a year in high school. I would see if that is still true.

    I am not familiar with a capstone diploma.

    UC schools trend to like out of state applicants.
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.for...our-favor/amp/

    https://blog.collegevine.com/uc-scho...eptance-rates/

    https://www.collegekickstart.com/blo...mission-trends


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    Annie
    WOHM to two wonderful little girls born in April
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    baby 2, 4-2009 (our Tri-18 baby)

  3. #3
    Kestrel is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    I would think you could easily find a theater program outside of school; is that an option? That would allow you to take both the language and research. That is a heavy class load, though. Does he do outside activities as well? Would he have time for that heavy a workload?

  4. #4
    dogmom is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    As someone who just helped my kid send in their last college application 19!days ago I am shocked how little senior year counts vs when I went. It counts even less if you are going to do all early action and early decision. I have a few thoughts that come to mind.

    Since you wonít even have a full semesters grade when applying do some places I would put too much weight on his class. Yes, Iím sure they want to see heís not taking all easy classes, but the AP he is taking proves heís not slacking off.

    Applying is a PIA and stressful. Thatís kind of a separate class for a semester. Because of reduced schedule my son had two ďfreeĒ periods thus term and none next. It definitely gave him time to do the college app stuff. (Please note we did it all ourselves. Completely doable.)

    Since I didnít hire a college counselor I did a lot of reading and watching conversations with actual admissions people at colleges. To me it seems like the bigger, prestigious state schools are a lot of metrics. The smaller schools have such a range of criteria you would go crazy trying to figure out in your year if this class give this difference in admissions. Which leads to..

    I would just let him decide what he would actually enjoy doing. If a theater class is what he wants, do that. There is a lot of evidence to suggest arts programs decrease anxiety in some kids. That would be positive and show he can communicate to and admissions office. If he really wants a language or challenge course, do that. I think they all sound good for colleges. Maybe different colleges have slight preferences, but he will get in somewhere that he wants. Donít drive yourself crazy trying figure this black box system out. .

  5. #5
    SnuggleBuggles is offline Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    I don't think that language thing is necessarily true. Mine only had 2 years of foreign language and got into the schools he applies to (with the exception of the one crazy stretch Ivy that he never expected to get into anyway).
    There are way too many wildcards in college admissions to try and play the game (racial diversity, economic diversity, geographic location,...). Don't bother. Let him follow his passion. It's high school. He'll land in a college somewhere. High school is his time to take things he enjoys nor having to pay for them like he would in college. So, theater and research win for me. Skip the language. If those schools do specifically require 3 years then do something over the summer, like you suggested. But, leave it up to him and don't make it a huge deal if he chooses to roll the dice on just having 2 years of language.
    I think that he will stand out more if he takes a class in something he is passionate about and can speak to that in essays.
    Last edited by SnuggleBuggles; 01-20-2021 at 09:38 AM.

  6. #6
    SnuggleBuggles is offline Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kestrel View Post
    I would think you could easily find a theater program outside of school; is that an option? That would allow you to take both the language and research. That is a heavy class load, though. Does he do outside activities as well? Would he have time for that heavy a workload?
    Theater was my ds1's favorite part of high school and it was being with his friends/ peers that made it so great. I am sure he would have enjoyed forming a community in an outside class but his theater class, choirs, plays and musicals in school were just an experience that couldn't be duplicated elsewhere. He was lucky though- his public high school was renowned for having an amazing theater program so not participating would have been nuts. Other schools, I'm sure it's not a huge deal.
    It's also senior year. Why not have some fun?! OP's schedule otherwise looks pretty intense. Having one class in there that is fun and less academic sounds good to me.

  7. #7
    gymnbomb is offline Emerald level (3000+ posts)
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    I would discuss the pro's and con's (from his perspective and from yours) of each option and then let him pick. He's the one who has to take the class, and he already has a difficult schedule of core classes.
    DS 2/14
    DD 8/17

  8. #8
    KrisM is offline Clean Sweep forum moderator
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    What does he want to do? I'd go with that? I think the AP Capstone also requires a research paper too, so is he up for that?

    I'd really look to see if any of the schools absolutely require 3 years of language. If one he's excited to go to does, then take the Spanish. If it's just recommended, I'd probably skip it then.

    Also will his college major require a foreign language? If so, will taking Spanish in 12th make it easier to knock out the language requirement in college? If not, again, I'd be fine skipping it.

    Personally I think any combination of the 3 is fine. Junior year is more important since the colleges will see the entire year on the application.
    Kris

  9. #9
    ezcc is offline Gold level (500+ posts)
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    The ap research class sounds like a drag and potentially time consuming work (although maybe would pay off to develop those skills). I agree with others, the college application process is stressful, and really hard to game. I would have him pick, but between the research class and the language I would pick the language- although that schedule looks awfully packed to me for senior year already! I will say that my ds was on an "easier" language track for spanish, and did not find that it got much more difficult as he progressed.

  10. #10
    bisous is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Disclaimer. I'm not even sure we're discussing the same class...I remember listening to an AP teacher talk about why she didn't really like the research project AP class, which I'm assuming (perhaps falsely) that it is the same as this AP Capstone. Anyway, the class she taught she described as a bit of a missed opportunity. In a college setting, under the advisement of a professor a student would be able to be led to produce a piece of good research. She described that she was not able to provide any feedback on the research project and found it frustrating to see good students spin their wheels on things that had fundamental flaws and she couldn't do anything about it. She felt like it would be a much better class and project if that kind of advisement could be included.

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