High school is challenging for many different reasons. It is a time where you start to become your own person. You begin to grow passions, relationships, experience, and make mistakes. With all of this life drama and decision-making throughout high school, you have classes mixed in. Typically for the first couple of years, everyone takes extremely similar courses. They range from algebra and physics to U.S. History and English. Around your second or third-year, students begin to have the option of taking AP courses. If you are unfamiliar with AP courses, they are classes that offer a college-level learning experience with examinations and curriculum, AP stands for Advanced Placement and these classes are organized by the College Board. These classes are of high interest due to their ability to provide credits in college and it looks better when applying to school. But are AP classes worth it? Here are the secrets that you are not told when taking AP courses and what I have learned after being accepted to college.
Credits For College
One of the big appeals about taking an AP course is its possibility to earn college credits. There is a reason why I say possibility. After going through the year-long rigor of taking the class and passing all examinations you then have to pass a final exam created by the College Board. This exam is scored out of 5 and oftentimes to earn college credits you have to score 4 or 5 and sometimes 3 based on the college.
If you complete all of that work and get a 4 or 5 on the exam you then have to go through the process of assuring that the college you will be attending will accept the credits. If they do, they often don’t transfer as the exact class you took and often show up as an elective within the field of study. For example, if you took AP Biology, your college might transfer that class in and only give you the credits. Often the college does not feel that the AP examination is of equal equivalent to their college course and in my opinion, they are correct. My college-level Biology and Chemistry courses had more rigor and I retained more information than any AP class I took in High School. I am extremely glad that these classes did not replace my college classes either because without the curriculum of General Biology and Chemistry I would have done extremely poor in higher-level classes and made a lot more work for myself.
How To Decide Which AP’s To Take
Taking an AP course is a huge decision. It costs money and a lot of effort. Often a school will encourage you to take more AP’s than you should. This is because they want the school to rank higher. School ranks often take into account how many students are taking AP examinations. So if you feel you are being pressured to take these courses, step away and think about the pros and cons for yourself first.
When picking a class it is extremely important to talk to your advisor, mentor, or family first. You first don’t want to overload your work. I recommend having an amount that you feel you can learn all the information accurately instead of cramming multiple classes just to pass the final exam. Cramming and studying to memorize and forget is not the point of AP classes. The main goal shouldn’t be to just earn college credits, it should be getting a head start on your college education. Getting credits is just a bonus. The number of AP classes will range based on each person but, it is ok to take none or five.
When picking courses it is also in your best interest to have each class be in a different field of study. I say this for a multitude of different reasons. The first is to spread your horizons. You are still in High School and you have not experienced everything. Take this opportunity to look into interesting topics and courses that are outside of what you look to major in.
The second reason you should take diverse classes is because of the credit situation. As I said before, often AP credits do not transfer and replace a college course. Instead, they act as an elective. These electives can still have tremendous benefits. A perfect example is when I took macroeconomics. This class was considered difficult and had nothing to do with my current major, biology. I am still glad I took it however because I was able to transfer this class in and it took care of a liberal art requirement I would have had to take. Doing this minimized the number of classes I took outside of my major and allowed me to focus on my major courses even more.
What Is Better Than AP’s
There is one class that you can take in High School that is better than AP’s and that is classes sponsored by actual colleges. For example, instead of taking AP Spanish, I took a college Spanish course through a local college, Adelphi. I was able to take Spanish 101 and 102. These classes not only taught me a lot but transferred directly into my college as Spanish 101 and 102 because it was an actual college class. I did the same thing with Calculus. I took Calculus through Syracuse University and managed to transfer all my credits to my current college. These courses are a lot harder to find but, I highly recommend taking them if you have the chance.