Many high schools are offering Advanced Placement or AP classes. AP classes are one way to increase the basic education requirements and raise the bar for higher achieving students. Participation in AP classes can show minority students that they too can go to college. Schools that have adopted the common core standards are raising academic standards to make their graduates and the US more competitive in the 21st century. AP classes raise the class content and reading standards.
What are the pros and cons for enrolling in an AP class? What are the pitfalls of enrolling in more than one AP class a semester?
Pros for taking one or more AP classes:
Get college credit while in high school if you earn a 4 or 5 on the AP Exam. Students who take all the available AP classes and get high scores on the exams can start college with 30-40 credits. Introductory college courses are often taught in auditoriums. It is hard to see the instructor when your assigned seat is in the nose bleed area and there is little chance for individualized attention in classes with 500 students. Advanced classes usually have a low student teacher ratio. Maintain a higher grade point average; this can help your class rank. Many high schools have a weighted grade program so that students taking AP classes can get more than a 4.0 on a 4 point scale. Increases college preparedness. Improve your chances for college admission. Success in an AP class proves that you can succeed in college classes. Engage in real world projects that develop problem solving and analytical skills needed in 21st century jobs. Challenge yourself beyond the average classroom experience. Go more in depth for course topics. Native language speakers may have an advantage in taking foreign language AP exams. AP exams are available in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese.
Cons for taking one or more AP classes:
Many Ivy League colleges do not give college credit for AP classes. Some curricula require participation in introductory classes. For example, participants in a medicine bachelor degree must take introductory biology even if they took AP Biology in high school. You might earn a lower grade for taking a rigorous course. Students who load up on AP courses become stressed, sleep deprived, zombies. It is hard work. You will have an hour of homework a night for every AP class. You can coast through the regular class. You will have to read more books in the AP English and Composition classes than the regular classes. The required reading includes nonfiction books.
There are more reasons to take an AP class than to not take one. So leave your comfort zone and take a challenge.