Random Thoughts: AP Classes

May 05 2015 Published by under Random Thoughts

I hear things. On the radio or television. Random elevator talk. These bits of information can inspire observations too long for a tweet, but not a substantial blog post. Thus, the Random Thoughts category begins...


Yesterday I heard a story on my local NPR station about advanced placement classes*. The story examined the possibility that schools were expanding the population of students placed into AP work for a variety of reasons. One result would be less "advanced" AP classes, perhaps resulting in fewer students qualifying for college credit.

Both of my offspring took a number of AP courses and tests. The classes challenged them, and I am sure it looked good on their transcripts. However, these courses would not have saved any significant amount of money in college tuition.

The main advantage I see of coming in with these credits is more rapid advancement of academic rank. In other words, you obtain sophomore, junior, and senior standing sooner if you come in with these credits. This gives the student higher priority in registration for the courses that they want or need.

*Thanks to potnia theron for supplying the link.


5 responses so far

  • Matt R says:

    I took 5 AP tests in high school (chemistry, U.S. history, world history, macro-economics, and micro-economics). The main benefit was, as you noted, that the extra credits gave me higher priority in registering for courses in university. I did end up graduating in 3.5 years though, so they saved me money in the end. I know several other people that came in with a lot of credits and they usually did double majors in 4 years. My experience is that AP tests can definitely save you money but you have to take quite a few of them before that is possible.

  • hlynn117 says:

    AP classes didn't give me priority registration in university (this is more of a function of the school I went to than anything else, though, because taking 5-10 AP classes in high school was the norm). They did, however, get me out of several courses and allowed me to place into honors classes that came with better professors. Important note: for the classes count or mean anything, you have to take the test. The class alone won't matter unless the student took the national AP test, too, and scored above what the school considers a 'pass'. At some private schools, only a 5 is considered a pass, but a lot of schools will accept 3s and 4s. I know people who used AP classes to graduate in less time at other schools, although the optimal use of college credits/AP classes is what will really save someone time in college and get you in/out faster.

  • potnia theron says:

    It also means more room, at college, to take other things. It also helps people think that *they* are college material - that was one of the take home messages I got from the show.

  • whizbang says:

    My father, a history professor, has noted that many students with AP credits in the survey classes in their major just have not had the "college level" experience. He recalls one student who finally went back and sat through those courses to improve LSAT scores. Of course, if he were just looking at getting the degree, this probably minor gap in education would not trouble him. For coursework that doesn't affect your career plans, it can be a great thing. We did not have AP at my school, but I did CLEP out of some courses, giving me some breathing room in my schedule.

  • BW says:

    I took AP classes.exams in high school and ended up having sophomore standing when I entered college. I graduated in three years. Saved my parents a lot of money and me ~4K in loans.

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