AP classes. They usually mean a lot of reading, a lot of writing, a lot of lab work, a lot of math problems, or some combination of both. Plus a giant test in May. Many students seem to think that AP courses are simply another scheme from CollegeBoard to make money, but the truth is that they benefit college-bound students immensely. I took eleven AP classes, and these are the ways that I’ve found them to be beneficial in college.
1. Getting credit that counts
Which is the whole point of taking AP courses. Yes, AP courses set you apart and demonstrate that you’re an exceptional student to potential colleges, etc., etc., but the main reason most students choose to take them is for the possibility to get credit for introductory level college courses. The way schools handle AP credit varies, but at most colleges, you can either get credit for introductory classes as if you’ve taken them there, or you can test out of introductory classes and move on to more advanced courses as a freshman.
2. Higher class standing
Depending on how many AP classes you pass and your university’s AP credit policy, you could enter your first year of college as a sophomore or even a junior. And even if you haven’t accrued enough AP credit to get you to sophomore standing, starting out your first year with even a bit of college credit will allow you to move up the hierarchy quicker in terms of class standing. For instance, suppose you attend a university that is on a quarter system, and you have 20 credits from AP classes. After two quarters, you will have sophomore standing credit-wise (assuming you take 15 credits/quarter), which means that you can register a bit earlier for spring quarter. When it comes to registration, anything helps.
3. Registration = less of a nightmare
Because you’ll have a higher class standing when registration rolls around. This means that there is a higher chance that the classes you want to take will still be open and that you will get into your first choice lab section. This is especially true for classes that are in high-demand because they are a requirement for many majors. In terms of perks, this is perhaps the best.
4. NOT having to take large introductory courses
The content of AP classes is designed to match that of introductory college-level courses, which are often massive. While large intro classes aren’t the absolutely worst things ever, if you aren’t fond of potentially being in a class with 500 other people, taking AP classes will allow you to skip these large lectures.
5. Good scores = better chances of getting in + better chances of getting a scholarship
When you apply to a university, the “rigor” of the classes you have taken is assessed. Basically, admissions advisers look at the difficulty level of your classes. Good grades in AP classes and good scores on AP tests can demonstrate that you are challenging yourself. The same goes for getting a scholarship: academic success is often one of the criteria used to assess candidates. Having AP courses on your transcript can distinguish you from other applicants.
6. Excellent preparation for college
Remember all the papers you had to write for AP English Literature? And all the reading in AP US History? And all the labs in AP Biology? Yeah, all that stuff turns out to be great prep for college. You will be expected to do a lot of reading, writing, and critical thinking while in college, so working on those skills in high school will give you an advantage. Taking multiple AP classes is also an excellent way to practice time management skills, which you will definitely need when you go to college (and also in life).
7. Graduating early = minimizing college costs
Assuming you get credit for your AP classes like you would if you had taken the course at a university, you might be able to graduate a quarter (or two), semester, or year early. That means not paying for a quarter (or two), semester, or year of college! And who doesn’t want to save some money, given how expensive college is? AP classes aren’t for everybody, and I don’t recommend taking an AP course if you aren’t genuinely interested in the subject. And don’t feel pressured to take on more than you can handle: if one AP class/year is your limit, that’s perfectly fine. However, the benefits of AP courses don’t stop after high school: they can help you out immensely with everything from registration to study habits.