Taking high school AP courses can help you stand out in the eyes of College Admissions departments and can help you prepare for the type of course work you will encounter in college. So should you jump in and apply for AP classes? Well, yes — but only if you feel that you WILL excel in these classes. These classes require hard work and can be stressful. If you have a job or multiple extra curricular activities and feel that you can’t dedicate the time to do well in these classes, then don’t opt for AP courses. It’s better to get an A in a regular or Honors class than a poor grade in an AP class so as not to affect your GPA.
What are AP Classes?
Advanced Placement or AP classes are part of a nationwide high school program put together by the College Board. They developed 37 courses across 22 subject areas to be at college level and much more rigorous than standard high school classes. High Schools decide if they will offer these classes, and high school students can opt to take these courses if they want to stand out academically, want to be challenged, or have a keen interest in a given subject.
At the end of the AP course, and for a fee of about $85.00, students take the AP exam and if they score well enough, some colleges will accept these scores as college credit - for example, if a student scores high on the AP Biology exam, he or she can skip the introductory college Biology class. Qualifying to skip courses can save you money in college tuition, plus save you time allowing you to graduate on schedule, or even earlier in some instances. Not all colleges accept high AP exam scores for college credit, so be sure to check your future college or talk to your high school counselor.
AP classes differ from Honors classes in that Honors classes are developed locally and don’t allow students to qualify for college credits. Also, Honors classes are typically offered in grades 9-12, while AP classes are offered in the 11th and 12th grades. As far as degree of difficulty, generally speaking, Honors courses are one level up from standard high school courses, while AP classes are 2 levels up from standard high school courses and are often weighted as such. Ask your future college if and how they look at AP scores.
AP classes can be very rewarding both personally and academically, but you have to weigh them against what other activities you have going on in you life. Best best is to talk to your guidance counselor and ask them if AP classes are a good idea for you based on your current academic progress and extra curricular schedule.