The possibility of exempting corresponding courses in college is one of the most appealing things about Advanced Placement (AP) courses. It’s enticing to avoid the college equivalents of say, AP English Language or AP Statistics, in a high school class which is probably easier than the college course would be.
Well, what happens when the most prestigious colleges in the country, both Ivy League and not, start raising their bar for accepting AP exam achievement as a waiver for these entry-level courses, or refuse to accept AP credit altogether? Perhaps they do it because AP courses don’t adequately teach students the total body of knowledge needed for a mastery of the subject, or maybe it’s because colleges want students to learn the college’s “version” of a given subject. Whatever. The reasoning behind this change does not matter as much as the response students should make to it — that is what we are debating, and I simply can’t see why students would suddenly stop taking AP classes because top colleges won’t offer them course waivers any more.
Certainly, the CollegeBoard (College Board? who cares) website makes no more in letting students know that AP courses can offer college credit, but that’s listed fourth on the laundry list of the benefits to be gleaned from AP classes. The intention of AP classes, at least per the web page, is to construct a more rigorous, critical, and wholesome course environment. The website also says the courses are designed to enhance students’ writing, reading, and studying skills in order to prepare them for college.
So, what, are we to give up on all of that just because we won’t get to test out of Stats 101? Colleges use AP classes as a measure of student ambition, not student achievement; they want to see students taking the hardest classes available to them, and here at our school we have AP classes in droves. Why not take the harder (and often far more interesting and enriching) classes to improve in colleges’ estimations that way? Better yet, why not take them out of a genuine desire to learn more? If these colleges one is working so hard to get into (e.g. Yale, Columbia, or my own future alma mater, the University of Chicago, none of whom accept AP scores as a college course credit) are so prestigious or so wonderful, is taking Statistics there really such a buzz-kill?
Within ten years my guess is that very few top-tier colleges, if any, will accept AP credit. Man up, I say. Distinctions like “Honors” and “Regular” and even “AP” are all relative; what ambitious students seeking admittance to nationally recognized colleges (or even Florida’s more prestigious schools) should do is simply take the most challenging courses available to them. In our school’s case, we are fortunate enough to have a huge dole of AP classes offered for free. That’s right, in other states students have to pay to take their AP classes; about $70 a class. For high-aiming students to opt out of academic advancement and college preparation because they’ll have to learn again in a college environment isn’t prudence, it’s entitlement and laziness.
Jake Bittle / A&E Editor