If college is a possibility for you, you should consider taking Advanced Placement courses (AP) if your high school offers them. There are many advantages to taking more challenging classes. In addition to possibly giving you an edge in college admissions, the courses could also have a positive effect on your college life.
It can be a tough decision, choosing between a “regular” class and an AP course. Hopefully these tips will help you decide which class is best for you.
Choosing whether to take Advanced Placement courses
AP courses will be more challenging than the general classes. Therefore, you should really think about whether you are up for the challenge before signing up for the class.
If you feel confident that you’ll be able to get an ‘A’ in an AP course, then the decision is pretty straight forward–taking the more challenging course will not only be beneficial and stimulating for you as a student, but the increased rigor of your course load will also help to boost your admissions profile.
Getting a ‘B’ and sometimes a ‘C’ in an AP class could potentially look better on your transcript during college admissions than an ‘A’ in a general classes. However, since colleges review applications differently, it is best to discuss your course selection with your school counselor. Your school counselor will be able to offer advice and information on your course selection.
It is undeniable that AP courses can help you in the admissions process and better prepare you for college courses. But, beyond just the classes themselves, there are also benefits from taking the AP test associated with the classes you take.
Receiving a good score on the AP exams can offer a lot of advantages. However, you must know that not all colleges award credit for AP exams. Therefore, check with the colleges you are considering to learn of their AP policies.
Benefits of taking AP classes
Here are eight reasons why you should consider taking AP courses in high school.
1. Impress the admissions committee
Although many colleges take a holistic approach to making admissions decisions, the academic record is still one of the most important factors admissions officers consider. AP courses are more challenging classes than the general or college preparatory courses the majority of students take.
Since taking AP courses is typically a choice students make, just choosing to take an AP course can be impressive. If you can receive a good grade in the class, even better.
2. Possible higher merit aid
If a college offers merit aid or scholarships, GPA and test scores are usually used to determine the amount the student receives. Even if your high school transcript is on a 4.0 scale, many colleges will recalculate GPAs to take into account AP courses. Typically, AP courses are on a 5.0 scale. At many institutions, a higher GPA, can translate directly into more merit aid.
Check with the colleges you are considering to find out how they calculate merit aid or check an institution’s financial aid page, where they often list specific merit aid scholarships and their qualifications.
3. Develop strong academic skills
AP courses are known to be academically challenging. AP courses can be compared to first-year college courses. Therefore, students taking AP courses will have a harder workload and will be using much more critical thinking skills. The skills learned in the AP courses will help students be better prepared for college courses.
4. Save time and money
If you choose to take the AP tests and receive a 4 or 5, many colleges will award you college credit. With enough of these, you could accumulate significant college credit before even enrolling in college. This could save you money and time–possibly even allowing you to graduate early and with less debt.
Again, check with the colleges you are considering because not all colleges offer college credit for high AP test scores.
5. Help with major selection
Since advanced placement courses are much more in depth, students get to explore the subject area more than they would in general classes. If students are unsure of what they want to study, AP courses could help narrow down the list.
6. More elective classes in college
If you receive college credit for your AP test scores, those general education requirements will be fulfilled much earlier. Therefore, students can take a few exploratory or fun classes that are not required or related to their major.
7. Further exploration in your major
If AP credit has fulfilled general education requirements, you’ll be free to take further classes in your major. Most colleges have many more courses in a subject matter than students are required to take. Therefore, if the subject is something you truly love, you can dig deeper by taking more elective classes if you complete the core classes while still in high school.
8. Take a minor or second major
Sometimes taking on a minor or a second major is impossible to do in four years. However, AP credits could free up your schedule to add the classes you would need to achieve one of these. Minors are a great way to explore and study a subject with less commitment. A second major, and sometimes a minor, can also open up more doors in the future and may reflect positively on your resume.