Pros and Cons of AP Courses

Advanced Placement (AP) programs are expanding within high schools across the U.S., and more and more students are faced with whether or not to enroll in AP classes. Since every student is different and has unique strengths and abilities, you must weigh the pros and cons of AP courses before deciding which classes to enroll in. Taking this a step further, students must decide how large of an AP course load is appropriate for a given school year. Colleges and universities place a lot of weight on an applicant’s academic success at the high school level. Still, they also focus on the overall rigor of courses in a student’s schedule. With that said, AP courses can provide you with an excellent opportunity to add challenging courses to your schedule as long as you can handle the workload.

Pros of taking AP courses

Since colleges look for applicants who take a rigorous course load during high school, enrolling in AP courses shows admission officers you are taking some of the most challenging courses your high school has to offer. In addition, AP courses are designed similarly to an undergraduate college course, so you can get an idea of what challenges you may face at the college level.

Variety of Courses
There are AP courses offered within various subject areas, so you can select which AP courses to take based on your strengths and interests. Consult with your school counselor to see which AP courses are offered at your high school.

College Credit
The most notable benefit of enrolling in an AP course is the opportunity to earn college credit. Depending on how well you score on your AP exams at the end of the school year, you may be able to graduate high school with several college credits already under your belt.

If your high school uses a class rank system and considers students’ weighted GPA, you can earn an extra point toward your GPA for AP courses you complete. This allows you to increase your overall weighted GPA and class rank potentially.

Cons of Taking AP Courses

Potential Challenges
Many students take AP courses looking for a challenge, but sometimes that challenge can be overwhelming and cause students added stress. You must possess good time management skills and positive study habits to ensure your success. You do not want this extra challenge and time commitment to bring down your grades in other classes you are enrolled in.

Different College AP Credit Policies
While there is an opportunity for you to earn college credit by scoring well on the AP exam, colleges and universities across the U.S. have different policies regarding what AP exam scores they accept. For example, one college may give credit for an AP Biology exam score of 3, while other colleges may only give credit for a score of 4 or 5 for the same AP exam. Make sure you research the AP credit policy for all colleges you consider.

Cost of Exams
The cost of taking AP exams can start to add up depending on the number of AP courses you take during your high school career. While each AP exam costs just under $100.00, your success on these exams can save you money off your college tuition in the end.

In summary, there are several factors for you to consider when deciding on whether or not to enroll in AP courses. You should evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, college plans, and willingness to take on a challenge when making this decision. Taking AP courses alone will not boost your college admission profile; you must also show you can handle the challenge through your grades. Consult with your teachers or advisors if you have questions regarding which AP courses are right for you.