Last Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Taking college-level courses in high school—like Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes—can be overwhelming for high schools students. College freshman and student vlogger Wendy knows this firsthand, so she’s sharing her perspective and experience. Watch the video below to learn what college-level courses are really like, why you should take on the challenge, and how to get started, plus tips for getting through them!
Reasons to take college-level courses
It’s good for your academic growth to challenge yourself by taking college-level courses, like AP, IB, and ACE. Here are some reasons why taking these classes is a good idea:
- They look good on your transcripts for college applications. Colleges will see you’re taking the initiative to challenge yourself, and it shows you’re in the top-tier academic level.
- You’ll be grouped with other students who are passionate about learning and have a strong desire to do well.
- Taking these courses in high school could help you get out of general education courses in college (though college and university requirements for exam scores vary, so make sure you’re aware of what your schools of interest will accept as college credit if you score high enough).
- You’ll have the possibility of graduating early.
- You’ll have more time in college to take specific classes pertaining to your major.
How to get started
After realizing all the benefits, you may be eager to jump into college-level coursework! But taking college-level courses in high school is about more than just signing up for them. You need to take the right ones and make sure they work with your school schedule. Here’s how to get started:
- Find out what courses your school offers. Wendy’s school offered American College of Education (ACE) programs—which are lesser known than AP, for instance—but your school might offer something entirely different.
- Make sure you’re capable of handling these courses. Don’t overwhelm yourself if you’re already stressed in school with your regular classes.
- You’ll probably have to take prerequisite courses to take the higher-level courses when you’re a freshman and sophomore—for example, taking pre-calculus before you get to AP Calculus as a junior or senior.
- Be sure to balance your college-level courses with regular, more fun, and maybe slightly easier classes to give yourself somewhat of a break in your day.
Tips to get through your classes
- Stay organized with a planner to remind yourself of deadlines for projects and assignments.
- Study in increments. You’ll be more likely to retain the information. And don’t just cram the day before the test—you won’t remember much that way.
- Don’t procrastinate! Do a little bit of work every day if you can’t get it done all at once. Make a plan for how to get your assignments done in a timely way with minimal stress.
- The day before a big exam, get a good night’s sleep and have a healthy breakfast. Again, don’t get burnt out studying the whole night before because you waited until the last minute to cram.
- During tests, make sure you know how much time you have and pace yourself properly so you can put in your best work.
Related: Tips for Surviving AP Classes
College-level courses in high school are highly recommended, especially if you want to impress college admission committees—but don’t overdo it, because then you’ll overwhelm yourself. You don’t want to be so stressed that you don’t earn a good final grade in the class. Find the balance and enjoy the challenge!
For more advice from real college students, check out the CollegeXpress YouTube channel!