Why Should I Take AP Classes?

Thursday, September 21, 2023
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Why Should I Take AP Classes?

Advanced Placement (AP) classes have been offered at high schools across the country since 1954, and nearly every high school in America offers them. The federal government has been pushing high schools to offer AP classes since 2000, and programs like the NSHSS Advanced Placement Educator Grant encourage this growth. And it’s working; College Board reports that high schools with AP classes make up about 70% of all high schools in the US.

Research on the benefits of AP classes has been mixed owing to the tendency for students to take on too many advanced courses. Here are the top 3 benefits of taking AP classes in high school for students accepting a reasonable course load.

AP classes build the foundational skills for college.

Preparing for college is an important part of the high school experience because it allows you to build study skills, time management techniques, and confidence in your academic abilities. All of these elements are important for success in college. AP classes can also ease the fears of high school students unsure about college attendance.

Comparing statistics for advanced placement attendance and college dropout rates make clear the correlation between college success and AP courses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 61.8% of high school graduates attend college, and a survey by Think Impact found that almost 35% of high school students took at least one AP class in 2021. 

Think Impact also found that, of the students who attend college, 40% fail to earn a degree and 30% of college students drop out within one academic year or less. These numbers are very telling. Students who successfully complete AP courses and exams are more likely to stay in college long enough to earn a degree. 

AP scores of 3 or higher increase the chances of admission to first-choice colleges.

AP classes do not automatically result in college credit, but that doesn’t mean they don’t carry weight with enrollment leadership. Earning an A or B in an AP class shows that the student is capable of handling college-level courses, even if they do not take the exam. According to College Board, about two-thirds of admissions officers and enrollment leadership say AP courses improve the chance of admission. 

AP courses can also give your high school transcript a boost and improve your GPA. In most schools, it is possible to earn more than a 4.0 GPA. Usually a weighted GPA is used, and AP classes increase that number. The best AP classes for college admission are those that bulk up your GPA in a STEAM subject related to your chosen major. Since AP exams can be taken without attending the course, the Advanced Placement program can also improve chances of admission for homeschooled students.

AP classes decrease the overall cost and completion time to earn a degree.

There are two main ways college students save time and money by taking AP courses in high school. Earning college credit or eliminating prerequisites reduce both the time it takes to complete a degree and the overall cost to obtain it. 

AP exams cost about the same as one credit hour at a public 2-year or 4-year college. Most comparable college courses require 3-4 credit hours, making the AP exam much more affordable. AP classes alone do not result in college credit. Students who want college credit for AP classes must take the associated AP examination to qualify for college credit at most colleges.

According to College Board, 33 states have implemented statewide policies requiring public colleges to give college credit for AP exams with a score of 3 or higher. Private colleges typically require a 4 or 5 to give college credit if they give credit at all. Even if your chosen institution doesn’t offer college credit for high AP exams, those scores can help you qualify for scholarships for specific areas of study or those based on merit.

It is important to remember that not all colleges give course credit for AP exams, but those that don’t may offer advanced placement with successful course completion or with a specific AP exam score. This allows students to skip introductory or prerequisite courses. 

AP classes increase the effectiveness and quality of higher education.

Advanced placement increases the effectiveness of your college degree, allowing you to take electives you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford or that would increase the time to get your degree. This is true whether you are given advanced placement or college credit for the AP course. 

It is important to remember that you do not have to take an AP course to pay for and schedule the AP exam. NSHSS members enjoy support for AP exams even when high schools do not offer the corresponding course.