Senior class levels…does it matter?


Junior year, you try and cram as many honors and AP classes into your schedule to impress the colleges you’ll be applying to the following year, but what about your senior year? Do you really need to continue to cram in rigorous classes to keep up appearances, or should you step back and enjoy your final year?

In a survey of 34 seniors, most said they took an AP or honors class for college credit, a challenge, and a boost to their GPA. On the other end of the spectrum, you can still boost your GPA with non-AP or honors classes if you do just as well in the class, but you might not get as much as a challenge out of it. Since most AP and honor classes offer a challenge, it can reflect nicely to colleges if you continue to challenge yourself even as you are applying, and after you have applied to colleges.

Trying to find the balance between AP and honors classes and still having free time is an important factor to consider. On top of his three AP classes, Collin Turley (12) still finds time outside of school to be involved in activities he enjoys, like Boy Scouts and sports. He manages his time well by typically spending about one hour on his AP class work outside of the actual class. You won’t want to look back on your high school years and regret not doing fun things like going to football games and dances because you were ‘too busy’ studying or working on AP and honors classwork. Compared to his junior year he is taking a few more AP classes, because he is “applying to some higher ed colleges so [I] think [I] need[ed] more AP classes to make [myself] look more desirable for them.” said Turley. Turley took into consideration his planned minor of German and maybe Calculus when deciding which AP classes to enroll into.

“[I wanted] to challenge myself and get the most out of my education.” said Turley.

Some seniors decide to fill almost their entire schedule with AP and honors classes, like Anna Ochoa (12). She is taking AP Statistics, AP Calculus, AP Government, and Earth Science Honors. With all these AP classes, Ochoa still finds time outside to be involved in school activities and have time for herself.  

“It’s all about time management,” Ochoa said, “so I’m pretty good at knowing what I have to do, knowing how long it will take and then actually getting it done in time so I can do clubs and activities after school.” In college she would like to major in business, so AP statistics was a clear choice for her because she knew it was going to be a big help later on when studying that major. And why not get used to or ahead of the college workload? Although college hasn’t always been a big influence on what and how many AP classes she takes. History has always been a favorite subject of hers, so taking any AP and honor history or social studies class was an easy choice for her, because it was something she has always been passionate about even though she probably won’t major in it. So again trying to find a balance between AP and honors classes that will either help your major or is a subject you are really interested in, rather than taking AP and honors classes just to take them.  

“I think the senior year stuff is more about are students taking the required curriculum that we want. So I think the senior course work they’re assuming they’re going to perform like they have in the past, but then also see are they taking the core classes, and getting more years of the core classes curriculum that they want,” said College Resource Counselor Mrs. Becki Bellito. So while colleges aren’t always seeing your grades for those senior classes, they are looking at if students are still challenging themselves, keeping up their grade performance, and keeping up their trend of grades and classes from freshman to senior year. Along with those factors, colleges are also looking at students holistically, like were you involved with charity work, sports, and clubs, or did you have unique family situations occur that would help define them over just statistics and numbers. When picking your course load for senior year, remember to have a conversation with your teachers, your counselor, and your parents, but it’s ultimately up to you.

“So if they know they’re capable of taking every AP and honors class, that’s different than knowing that they can manage it. Manage the homework load, get good grades, make a real commitment to their extra stuff and have an enjoyable senior year,” said Bellito.

Depending on the colleges you plan on applying to and attending then that is the main factor in your decision of how many AP and honor classes you should take. Make sure you have a good reason and don’t take an AP class just to take it, make sure the subject interest you or that it’s something you’d like to further study in college. Don’t believe that because you didn’t take 1 more or any AP and honors classes that that is the reason you didn’t get into a college because remember there are a lot of other factors weighing into your acceptance. Don’t be too consumed and stressed by AP and honor classes and college admissions that you forget to stop and enjoy your senior year because as cliche as it sounds it only happens once.