By April Pickens, student author
AP and advanced courses can be the bane of your high school existence- trust me, I’ve been there. The AP exams come around once a year, and can easily be the most stressful week of your life. I hear what you’re saying: “But April, if they are so horrible why are you telling us to take them?” Let me explain.
College is hard. This is no secret. Who wouldn’t want to alleviate some of that stress early by taking courses that can give you college credit? Taking these classes in high school is going to be easier than taking them in college- as a former high school student who is currently in college, I can confirm this. Having credits that can transfer when you go to college not only saves you time, but saves money as well, and who doesn’t want to save time and money? Having some of your college credits taken care of before you even go to college is pretty cool; I came to Purdue with six language credits, three English credits, and an ACP science credit. This allowed me to skip some of the monotonous entry level classes everyone has to take. Trust me, the effort is well worth it.
Taking harder courses looks great on college applications. Getting into college is already difficult. Not only do you have to write essays, fill out multiple application forms, and pay to take the SAT and ACT, but then you go through all of that to sometimes be denied, without learning why. The best you can do is to make yourself stand out in your application, and colleges like to see prospective students that take the initiative to take those AP and advanced courses. To them, a person who has taken these kinds of courses has initiative, motivation, and drive, and these are really good things to have, especially in college when your mother won’t tell you to do your homework before dinner anymore.
You can begin learning college level skills early. AP and advanced courses are going to be difficult, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. However, by taking these classes, you will have a better idea of how classes in college will run and work, and what kinds of information they will cover. If you want to look at some AP courses and what they cover, I highly suggest taking a look at the College Board website. One skill that I learned in my AP European History class was that taking notes is a lifesaver. It doesn’t matter if you type them out or you use a good old-fashioned notebook and pencil. If you know how to take good notes, then you will already be ahead of the game when you get to college. Being able to study efficiently for these harder courses is also a bonus; you can apply new ways of studying to all of your other classes and achieve high grades, while making the transition from high school to college much simpler for yourself.
You can get higher merit-based awards. I’m not kidding. Just like how these classes look good on a college application, they also look good on scholarship and merit-based award applications as well. Now, I’m not saying that just because you’ve taken a few AP or advanced courses means that you’re definitely going to receive a scholarship or merit-based award; a lot of other factors go into those kinds of awards. I’m simply letting you know that these courses help your application rise above than others.
Have I done it? Have I helped you make up your mind about taking AP or advanced courses? Ultimately, the decision is yours to make – you know what’s best for you. However, I do highly suggest taking at least one course that your high school offers. I took six altogether, and it paid off greatly in the long run. If you have questions about what’s available at your school, I suggest getting in touch with your School Counselor or Academic Advisor and talking with them. They are one of your greatest assets in high school. For now, I’ll just wish you luck on all your advanced endeavors!