Are AP classes worth it?

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Students load up on AP classes in hopes to get into more competitive colleges. (Photo credit to grown and Flown)

Students load up on AP classes in hopes to get into more competitive colleges. (Photo credit to grown and Flown)


Why do we take AP classes? Is it because they’re rigorous? Is it because they look good on our transcript? Maybe it’s because there’s a chance we can earn valuable college credit from these classes if our exam scores are high enough Earning college credit means that students won’t have to take certain classes in college, but is taking AP courses worthwhile when so few colleges accept AP classes for credit?

A study done in 2016 which looked at the top 153 universities and colleges ranked by U.S. News and World Report found that 86% of these schools restricted AP credit in some way, 75% of them limited which AP subjects they accept for credit and 38% capped the number of AP credits awarded to each student. Some colleges only accepted a score of a 4 or 5 for a student to achieve credit. Each school does something different, and with this kind of inconsistency you never know what all your hard word is going to get you. As shown by these statistics, in some cases, it could give you nothing.

Ok, not nothing, but it’s still really unpredictable whether or not you’re going to get credit for your APs. However, taking APs is a great opportunity for students to learn a topic in a level of detail that they wouldn’t get in a normal course. In AP World, I’m learning so much about the world and how certain events shaped it that I wouldn’t have known if I had taken Modern World. I can vouch for the fact that students get a lot out of an AP course if they put the work into it, and while it may not be worth it in the credit sense, in terms of knowledge for the future, it’s very beneficial. Not everyone can handle AP classes, and that’s perfectly fine, but it should be something everyone should at least consider.

Colleges know how much work we put into AP classes (or they should at least), and when looking at our transcripts they analyze how much we try in school and if we push ourselves academically. Taking APs shows colleges that you’re willing to try your very hardest to get the most out of your education. At many college tours you hear admissions officers talking about how they’re looking for students who challenge themselves, and taking AP courses is the way to do it.

I understand why colleges don’t give credit for these courses all the time, but I think there should be more consistency in college’s policies for taking AP courses as credits. Students pour their heart and soul into these very difficult classes, and doing well in these courses should warrant some acknowledgment from colleges. If a college does accept AP exams for credit, then the experience really is worth it because at the end of the day – ninety dollars for an exam is way better than thousands of dollars for a college course.

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