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Should I take physics or AP Bio senior year?

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My guidance counselor suggested I take physics but I rather take AP Bio. It's more interesting and I want to major in Biology in college. (I want to be an optometrist) My counselor said she was concerned that colleges wouldn't the AP Bio credits but I think taking AP Bio would show my commitment to Biology. And do colleges require you to take physics if you're applying for a science major? #college #biology #physics #college-major #science

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Dewan’s Answer

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Hi there! Both are great classes and if you recieve a 3 or more in either AP test, then it is used as a course that does not need to be taken in college. It honestly does not matter if your career requires an AP bio or AP physics class, since mostly ALL college degrees require biology and physics as foundation courses. Regardless of if you wish to take this AP class in high school, you are definately going to have to take the college version of the course at your university. Hope that helps!
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Matt’s Answer

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If you are sure you want to pursue an optometry degree, odds are you have a few schools already in mind where you are applying to. Check with those schools to see if they have an AP credit policy in place where if you score a certain score or higher in the AP test for that subject (when I was in high school it was a 3 or higher) then you will earn credits before even taking a class at that school. I was able to bring in a half-a-semester worth of credits to my college before even enrolling in a class because of AP test performance.

For it being in your desired field, I would recommend the bio class anyways, but if it can have a potential extra effect on your college studies, it's a fantastic opportunity to take on.

Matt recommends the following next steps:

  • Check with the schools you intend to apply if they feature an AP credit policy.
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Randall’s Answer

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Kaela,

In my opinion this is one of those "depends" questions. I can tell you in my case, I was a high school student back in the 1960's and was on my way to college as a biology major. I found factual information quite easy for me but math was a challenge. I enjoyed math as a form of game playing but I was not a "natural" in math. I had the option of an elective (we called them "electives") in either advanced biology or advanced math. Everyone who knew me were quite surprised that I chose math. I knew I would be taking multiple math courses in college and I didn't want to be at a disadvantage. I took the advanced math course and never felt foolish for it. Indeed, after my single course in basic biology, I did a lot of self teaching in biology on my own time. I chose to take a test, which I am not sure is still available, but it was the "Biology Achievement" test. Some institutions required it back then but for most it was accepted only as a value-added criterion for accepting or rejecting an applicant. I did very well in the achievement test and I had more self confidence going into college calculus when the time arrived. I also didn't have to convince the institutions I was committed to biology because I took that other test and I did well on it.

So you can see my choice paid off very well for me. If you find physics somewhat challenging and you might be a bit weak in it, I would side with your academic counselor go with the physics AP. I should also remind you that optometry has more physics in it than you might imagine. Indeed lens corrections for vision is largely physics!

Your situation may be quite different from mine and your options may be different but, strategically, I can assure you things have not changed all that much. You may need to keep your GPA up by taking a course that is less challenging to you but if optometry is your goal, remember this means you will be headed to a professional school after your undergraduate program. Your optometry school may well be a totally different institution which view undergraduate schools as "feeder" schools. So you could likely go almost anywhere for undergraduate. The real stickler is selecting best the optometry school for yourself. In most cases the optometry schools will likely not spend too much time reviewing your high school record.
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Kevin’s Answer

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Hello Kaela,

I was surprised at everyone's answer, but here is mine. Take AP BIO. Why? Let me explain.

If AP Biology is accepted, you win. If it is not, you still win. Your GPA in college matters after you get in from high school. If you have a solid foundation in Biology, what does that matter if it is accepted. Imagine the next four years and even in Optometry, your life could have been massively easier because you already had a strong foundation in one subject. Imagine every Biology class you take in college, you had an edge not because you knew the material but because you understood how to study for Biology.

Yes, I know...taking physics would be helpful. But let me tell you, I took both in high school, and when I go into college, I realized that physics was general physics not Physics for Engineer or Physics for Life Scientists which was what I needed to graduate in college. I ended up taking Physics in college, and then my experience is unique because I learned that I had to take Physics for Engineers which meant I took two years worth of physics. Life is crazy like that sometimes. (I'm a Biochemist by the way.)

Optometry School may not even cover the same Biology or Physics. Biology is a broad field, and Physics as well. I really doubt taking one semester would even cover the span of both subjects, that's why there are doctorates in those fields! You should choose classes you enjoy and that are relevant to your career goals, and of course be open to new possibilities. But if you stray from the path, you might choose Physics 😲. At that point, we would talking about finding your career right?

You also bring up another question which is would "they" find your commitment a more valuable assets as a candidate to whatever your comparing to. Yes of course! But remember guessing what admission wants is highly variable.

Kevin recommends the following next steps:

  • Cater to your strengths or find strengths in your ambition.
  • Hold the highest GPA you can.
  • Always make decisions with supporting information but own it.
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Renee’s Answer

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Before taking AP classes you need to weigh your current load. If this is the only AP class in your schedule - I agree. Go for it! If you have 2 or 3 then you need to really look at your current grades/abilities in those classes. AP classes are "weighted" differently there than normal classes as far as G.P.A. is concerned. A few things to also consider - you can always take the AP class outside of school. There are places that will offer AP classes, tutoring, etc and you can take the test and get the credit towards college - all while keeping your GPA in tact in your regular school/classes. You need to protect your G.P.A. If you already have classes that you are getting A's/B's in and this AP class will challenge/push you to the next level go for it. In most schools you can drop classes and go back to after 2-3 weeks if things don't work out but you need to pay attention to the add/drop deadline. Do you have help i.e. tutoring if this class becomes to heavy/overwhelming for you ? You have to think strategically to set yourself up for the best possible outcome to WIN! Weigh your options and jump in with both feet - don't second guess. Prepare, study, ask questions and study some more. Sit in the front of the class - if you do not already! Make sure you tell your teacher up front.., I need to do well in your class. You need to set the tone from the beginning that you are serious and in that class for a reason/purpose. You can do it but THINK Strategically. #competentandconfident

Ms. Renee
Thanks!!! I love the teacher teaching it and she really tries to help us out. I've taken AP courses before, right now as a junior, I'm taking college chem, college us, intro to anatomy and precalculus. So, I'm no stranger to working hard! Kaela H. Translate
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Vern’s Answer

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Either class is good in my opinion. Given that you want to be an optometrist you may want to lean toward the physics class because a big part of eye care is the physics of light (lenses, refraction, reflection, etc.). On the other hand if you don't have any other opportunity to take biology the AP biology class makes good sense.

Keep in mind, you will likely be better off taking classes that give you an opportunity to expand you career horizons.
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Vern’s Answer

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Either class is good in my opinion. Given that you want to be an optometrist you may want to lean toward the physics class because a big part of eye care is the physics of light (lenses, refraction, reflection, etc.). On the other hand if you don't have any other opportunity to take biology the AP biology class makes good sense.

Keep in mind, you will likely be better off taking classes that give you an opportunity to expand you career horizons.
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Estelle’s Answer

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My daughter is in optometry school. She took AP Bio in high school and got the credit towards her biology degree. She was then able to focus on other classes. She did not like physics in high school, and she was glad that she saved it for college during a summer semester when she could focus on it and not be distracted by a full course load. It is important to work with your strengths and make adjustments in areas where you are not as strong. Good luck!
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Daniela’s Answer

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Class credits would depend on the college you decide to attend. I preferred taking biology classes in both high school and college. It's important to take classes you enjoy and gain experience in your field. If you already have schools in mind I would check to see what classes are accepted.
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Rachel’s Answer

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Ideally, you would take both AP physics and bio your senior year. If you have seen this info before, you will have a higher chance of getting an A in college when you take the class then. If you only have time for one of the classes, pick the one you are most interested in.
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KB’s Answer

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Take AP Bio. Even if colleges don't take the credits, you will practice biology. Besides, it doesn't say your physics is AP - so credits aren't an issue there either, so what is the point of taking it? Besides, if that's your passion, you'll work harder and make better grades than you would in physics. Also, I'm pretty sure that if you make a 3 or higher on the AP test, you WILL get credit even if it doesn't apply to where you end up.
Thank you!!! The physics teacher is a little weird and not the best teacher. My friends complain about him all the time. Meanwhile, the ap bio teacher is heaven sent, she's the best teacher I've ever had. I'm just a little worried that colleges will have wanted me to take physics. That's what happened to my mom. Kaela H. Translate
In my personal experience, I didn't take physics - most of my senior class didn't. All the colleges I applied to (at least 5, maybe up to 8, can't remember) accepted me and offered scholarship money. Do you know what colleges you want to attend? The best thing you can do is to get in contact with their recruiters or their advisors in your major and ask them about your chances if you don't take physics. Goodness knows I was scared that colleges wouldn't want me if I didn't take calculus or physics, but it turned out to be a non-issue. KB Evans Translate
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Jack’s Answer

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Take the classes that meet your interests. Give yourself the widest possible breadth of experiences. Each school you apply for will judge your transcripts differently. Do not take lasses to satisfy an unknown school requirement.
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