Which AP classes should my computer science bound daughter take?

By Maxine Seya

My daughter wants to study Computer Science in college and is particularly interested in programs like Dartmouth which has a BS and a Masters program in Computer Science with Digital Art. What other AP-level courses should she take to round out her application since AP options in Art and CS are limited? Her advisor is telling her to not take things like AP Chemistry and just focus on art and computer science. Because her interests are a little more niche, it’s hard to understand the right path for her. I am concerned about the advice to not consider AP Sciences, etc, especially if she wants to major in CS.

- Kristin, a parent of a high schooler in San Diego, California

We enlisted the help of Dartmouth’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions to get you a fully-researched answer. Over the course of a recent conversation with a Dartmouth admissions representative, we concluded that for the purposes of getting into Dartmouth, your daughter’s counselor is mostly right. She should focus on art and computer science. Here’s the rest of what happened when we contacted Dartmouth for answers straight from the source.

We spoke with a Dartmouth admissions rep, also a current neuroscience student, who emphasized that all Dartmouth academic disciplines are taught from the ground up, assuming no previous knowledge or experience in high school. She was a neuroscience major who took no neuroscience courses before college and only took advanced chemistry for the first time in Dartmouth. She said, anecdotally, that while her classmates who took AP Chem in high school were able to easily grasp the material, she also did “great” as a newbie to advanced chem.

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Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.