Counselors agree that Advanced Placement, or AP, classes are an excellent way to display academic rigor in a student’s schedule and impress the college admissions officers.
AP classes offer more of a challenge than a general core class. The material can be demanding yet rewarding to students who take them, but with every benefit, there is a drawback.
“AP classes are more in-depth than their traditional counterparts,” said Beth Rhodes, the AP biology teacher. “They provide a more intimate look into the subject and a greater focus and attention to detail.”
While all AP classes are a tremendous investment in time, these classes can set up study habits and stretch the students to prepare for college. At Gull Lake, all AP class grades are weighted, allowing for students GPA to be over a 4.0.
Moreover, Advanced Placement classes are a way to secure some financial aid. Many grants and scholarships require a student to have a particular ACT/SAT score and GPA, and some may look for academic excellence and rigor.
“If a student does well enough on the exam, he or she can acquire some college credit or possibly wave an introductory class,” said Taryn DeShane, an AP student at Gull Lake.
Although the benefits may seem appealing, the challenge and extreme workload can overwhelm students, causing their grades to suffer. Alongside this challenge struggling in AP courses can backfire, with low grades and exam scores reflecting negatively on college applications according to Josh Moody in the U.S. News. Therefore, students taking AP classes should understand the commitment needed with the added difficulty and demand on his or her time.
While the courses are free themselves, the tests are not. Each exam can cost a little less than a hundred dollars, and this can add up fast when taking multiple exams.
Further, not all colleges or universities value AP test scores and classes equally. Students should be aware of how the college admission officers weigh AP classes, which can be found on the university’s admission’s page. Still, it is often up to the student’s counselor at a university how the AP course is credited on their incoming transcripts, either as a specific credit given or to check it off as an introductory class taken, allowing students to advance to a more rigorous course.
More than the minimum academic requirements for graduation is needed to impress many colleges. AP classes require students to go above and beyond in their efforts to excel. By adding additional difficulty to a student’s schedule, that student can prove that he or she is willing to put in the work to receive higher education.