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Should I Take for Advanced Placement Classes in High School?

AP courses can challenge a student academically, but they aren't for everyone. Here's some expert advice on whether or not you should take AP classes.

Douglas L. ChristiansenDouglas Christiansen
Vice Provost for Enrollment, Dean of Admissions

Vanderbilt University

A student should take the most rigorous course load available in which he or she will be successful. A question that is often asked is, “What if I get a B in an AP course when I could have gotten an A in an honors course?” For highly selective universities, it is critical that the most difficult courses be taken, and that the student be very successful in those courses. If a student is, for example, in all AP classes a senior year and makes a B in one of the courses, the level of academic work is considered when evaluating that B. We understand that not all students can take AP courses successfully while in high school. What all colleges want to see is that the student challenges themself to a higher level of rigor. This shows incentive, work ethic, and dedication to one’s education. Being realistic about one’s abilities is also critical; not everyone excels at the same level, and there is a university or college for every student in this country who wants a higher education. If one invests one’s self at the highest level, that effort shines through in any application.

Will ZuberbuhlerWill Zuberbuhler
Director of Business Development
Triumph College Prep

So, you’re thinking of starting college while still in high school? Well, that’s sort of what you’re doing when you enroll in AP (Advanced Placement) courses. You’ll find the courses are much more difficult than any you’ve taken so far. This is because they are very similar to college-level courses. What you’ll notice different is how the courses are taught. You won’t be simply given a lot of information that you are then required to know for a test. Rather, you’ll enter into discussions with your classmates and the instructor as you work towards a better understanding of the subject matter. Why are AP courses beneficial? They help you hone skills you’ll use in college like critical thinking, writing, and time management. You can receive college credits or advanced placement (depending on the college or university and requires passing the exam for the course). They can help you to decide on a college major. If you’re thinking of taking AP courses, but just aren’t sure, it may be a good idea to try just one to see how you like it.

Find more articles and advice on what kind of classes are right for you in high school in our Majors and Academics section.

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