This time of year, all high school students are considering their class choices for next year. There is so much pressure on students and parents to take the "most challenging classes offered by the school.” Is it really necessary to take all those AP classes? Here is what you should consider when faced with this decision:
Does the student have the time to handle the extra work required in AP courses?
With all the homework, activities, and external challenges of high school, it's tough to be up late every night doing the work necessary to excel in these classes. Balancing and managing the student's stress level is important.
What is the point of APs?
The intention is to show that the student can handle college-level work, not to put the student in a position to fail. If a student is taking an AP class for college credit, she should know that often the college she will attend won't give credit and won't shorten her time in college (or save her parents money). Furthermore, if the student is placed in a higher level college course based on the AP she took in high school, this can make the college transition even more challenging, which can be counterproductive.
Is a “B” in an AP equal to an “A” in a lower class?
In short, no. Most selective schools are looking for a competitive course load taken by their applicants, and also for an “A” in each course. Unfortunately, the applicants to most selective schools generally receive “A’s.” If the student doubts her ability to get an A, or if the teacher of the course announces that she “will not give “A’s”, it is best to consider a lower level class. Save the GPA at all costs.
OK, so what should you do?
Talk to friends who have taken the classes you are considering. Talk to students ahead of you to see what they have learned. Manage the stress level of the student. Most importantly, show progress year after year, focus on obtaining the highest grades possible, and don't bite off more than you can chew.
There are so many great colleges out there. It is vital to match your results in high school, your true academic ability, and the experience you want in college to the right schools.