Several of my students recently asked if they can take art and music classes and still have the most challenging curriculum? In most cases, the answer is yes.
Before we talk about the fine arts classes, we need to look at the overall curriculum. Are you taking four years of each of the five core subjects: English, math, science, history/social and a single foreign language? If the answer is yes, then you will have satisfied step one in showing a challenging curriculum. If amongst those classes you have a number of AP classes, that will satisfy the second step to show a challenging curriculum.
At this point, we can go back to look at other classes. If you have four years of each of the core subjects and sufficient AP classes, you can take other classes that interest you even if they aren’t the most academic. Band, choir, photography and drawing are all examples of classes that are acceptable to colleges if you have an interest.
The other issue that comes up in taking music and art classes is that they aren’t typically weighted and so students taking those classes may have lower GPA’s than students who take academic subjects that are weighted. This can affect the student’s ranking if the high school still ranks. It is also one of the reasons many high schools have gotten rid of rankings. Higher isn’t necessarily better. Colleges also understand that this can happen and most take a more holistic viewpoint in comparing these transcripts. In other words, you won’t necessarily be penalized by taking a music or art class.
There are a few of you out there who think you can get the best of all possible worlds by taking an AP fine arts course, AP Music Therapy or AP Art History. While this is true just be aware that AP Art History is a challenging AP course while AP Music Therapy is generally considered the most difficult AP course available.
The other issue to be aware of with music and art courses is that some colleges, notably the University of California system and the California State University system require one year of fine arts for admissions. The University of Missouri Kansas City B.A./M.D. program also requires one year of fine arts. This requirement is often waived by UMKC if the students does not have a fine arts course and is from outside Missouri.
If you have an interest in the fine arts, feel free to take some classes in this area. Just make sure that you have a solid core curriculum at the same time.