I began high school as Advanced Placement (AP) courses were popularizing. Initially, these courses were only for the students who the teachers believed would get As in. They were not meant to challenge student to perform at a higher caliber, rather, the courses were designed for ‘elite’ students to stay ahead.
I was viewed as an ‘average’ student, so I was kept in the traditional courses until my senior year when I fought to take AP Euro and was asked to take AP Studio Art. Not only did I work hard because I felt I had something to prove, these two courses forced me to alter my approach to my education causing a ripple effect that has completely altered my life path thus far.
AP Courses for the ‘Average’ Student
I was taking these courses to learn, get credit for college, and prove that I could thrive in APs despite administrative naysayers. I studied diligently for every test, did every homework assignment thoroughly, and learned that I am really good at drawing between midnight and 3 am (then it gets a little wonky).
I focused for these courses like I had never done before and the hard work payed off. I got high enough scores that I was guaranteed college credit at my current school while learning that I had the capacity and drive to do really well.
A New Way to Learn
This altered my approach to learning. In elementary school every kid thinks they just ‘aren’t a reader’ until they find that book that rocks their world. I applied this lesson to the classes I took. Choosing classes I was passionate about ensured I would do great in that class. So far, I have gotten As in every class I found interesting.
In addition to enhancing my college performance and grades, the 6 AP credits I took to college with me got me half a semester closer to graduating. Having half a semester leeway has allowed me to take a semester off to follow a passion knowing that I can still graduate on time by either adding one extra class for two semesters or taking two classes over the summer.
I chose to take an internship at the White House in the spring of my sophomore year and then take two classes online over the summer. My two AP credits empowered me to rethink the traditional four-year at one college route and create a path of my own still graduating with my class.
Why You Should Take AP Classes
If you’re thinking about taking AP classes, do it. There are numerous benefits you’ll get, and if the class is inadequately taught or you don’t try hard enough, you’ll be more prepared for that class in college. Some tips for taking AP credits:
• Keep your load light your first year in AP: I would recommend no more than two APs your first year. You can build after that, but this will leave you with enough time to prepare for both classes.
• Investigate how the credits will transfer: If you have a lot of AP credits when you begin your college search, this should be a factor that weighs heavily on your decision. You can always ask the admission counselors or respective school office if your credits will transfer. If high scores don’t transfer, I would cross the school off of my list.
• Find out what score you’re aiming for: All colleges have a minimum grade you must get in order to accept the credit. Know that score and strive towards it.
• Put up the money: AP courses cost money, but a lot less than college courses. Pay a little now, get a lot later. It’s worth it!
AP courses have the ability to transform your college experience. Not only do these courses teach you how to study, take notes, and test well; they also give you flexibility in your college years to do other things or act as a buffer if you chose to switch majors.
Just make sure that the colleges you are looking at will take your AP credits! If not, you may be working hard without the cheaper credits transferring in.
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