Students should carefully weigh pros and cons on AP classes

OPINION

By Everett Mulroe/ Eagle Post staff

Many schools are beginning to offer a larger variety of advanced placement classes for an increasing number of students. Students, teachers, and parents weigh the benefits against the threats of these programs.

High school students are becoming increasingly busy as they prepare for college and the work force. Many high school students balance a job, class work, community service, sports, and other forms of extra-curricular activities. Such full schedules make students and their parents nervous to commit to the work that comes with an advanced placement class, but the benefits of a college level course could outweigh the concerns of the commitment.

Advanced placement classes are classes of college material that are taught at high schools. These classes are generally offered to juniors and seniors of high school but can be offered anytime in a student’s high school career. These classes give students a chance to challenge themselves while learning important skills needed for college level classes.

Each May tests that may exempt students from taking the course at the collegiate level are offered for each AP class. Many students and parents take advantage of these classes as an opportunity to get college credit without the price. According to the College Board website, tests cost around $90 which may sound like a lot unless you consider the hefty expense the same class would cost at a college or university.

Some students who take A.P classes don’t even take the test, and of those who take the test, some do not earn a high enough score to achieve credit. Most colleges and universities will reward credit for a score of a 4 or a 5 on a scale of 1-5; some will even reward a score of a 3. Scores of a 1 or 2 will generally not receive credit. Whether a student earns college credit or not, students who take A.P classes find themselves more prepared for college.

Saving money is only one potential benefit of AP classes. AP classes teach students discipline as well as reading and studying skills. Students are forced to practice taking notes on a reading that may not be discussed in class forcing them to take charge of their own education.

AP classes teach students how to prioritize. I have taken a few AP classes over the past two years and they have taught me how to spend my time on parts of the curriculum that the class does not discuss while spending less time on things reviewed in class.

Many students fear that an AP class will be too much work or too difficult for them to understand. These students and their parents fear the course load will negatively affect their grade point average or take time away from other things a student their age should be involved in. While the class is a lot of work and needs commitment, anybody can do well in AP classes. The key is to pick a course that the student finds interesting and to commit the time to study and to do the homework.  Students will need to learn these skills for any type of further education in the future. AP classes give students a chance to practice these skills in a secure environment while their parents and teachers are still accessible for help.

Records from the Center of Gifted Studies AP Summer Institute (wku.edu), a center that trains teachers in teaching AP courses, has statistics saying that students who have not taken any AP classes have only a 33% chance of completing a Bachelor’s Degree while students who have completed one AP course have a 59% chance of completing a Bachelor’s Degree and those who have completed two or more AP courses have a 76% chance.

These statistics support that AP classes prepare students for a college workload. Students who go to college knowing what is expected have a higher success rate and are less likely to drop out.

AP classes help students learn how to study. Many high school students easily float through high school without ever having to study or review material. AP classes force these students to sit down with the material to really learn it.

As a greater percentage of students take AP courses, students who have not taken AP courses might get left behind academically. Students who have AP classes are likely to be chosen over those who haven’t for college admittance; once accepted students might fall behind in college if they don’t have the necessary skills. AP classes teach students skills they will need for their lives after high school while helping them stand out to college admissions.

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