In order to stand out to the admissions office, your coursework should be rigorous. This demonstrates your desire to prepare for college and your ability to succeed. One way to do this is by taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses throughout your high school career. In addition to giving you a competitive advantage when you begin applying to college, taking AP courses can also result in earning college credit during high school. Begin with Pre-AP courses, which will prepare you for the more rigorous AP courses when you can register for them.
Note to Parents: Encouraging your student to take challenging courses in high school will help them with the admissions process, scholarship applications and prepare them for success at their chosen post-secondary institution.
Note to Students: Don’t be scared to challenge yourself by taking rigorous courses in high school. Your future is worth it! Don’t leave room for wishing you put more effort into your academics. Take the plunge and work hard in more challenging courses!
What is Advanced Placement (AP)?
For a complete list of AP courses and tests, visit the College Board website.
Why should I take AP courses & exams?
The Financial Benefit: Courses in college can be anywhere from $200-$1200 each. The AP Exam only costs $93 (without fee reductions and assistance offered to qualified students). Taking AP courses not only shows commitment to learning but can take a financial burden off your future college endeavors. Think about it…$93 per course or $200-$1200, depending on the post-secondary institution of your choice.
How does AP exam scoring work?
BONUS TIP: Studying for the exam isn’t like studying for a high school chapter/unit exam. Students must begin studying for the exam early (a couple months in advance) to be fully prepared to obtain the required score to gain college credit. Practice taking AP exams for free!
Planning ahead is key
Stay in touch with your guidance counselor and understand which AP courses are offered at your school. Some AP courses have prerequisites that need to be taken in your freshmen and sophomore years so you need to be clear on your course layout from your freshman year forward.
You’ll also want to look ahead to your list of potential colleges. Check out Big Future’s College Search to find universities that accept AP exam scores for course credit.
Other options for demonstrating academic rigor:
Not every school offers AP courses. Look into the advanced academic program options at your school. These could include Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, or dual credit courses. Make sure you understand the difference between these options before you decide if they are the right fit for you.
How to keep track of academics in your College Readiness Tracking System:
Keep a copy of your most recent transcripts in your storage container or scan it in and save it in your digital system.
Be prepared to also provide “official transcripts,” which may need to be sealed, or even provided directly by the school. An “official transcript” should include GPA, Class Rank, and Test Scores, but it is important to also track these statistics in your College Readiness Tracking System.
There are many academic honors, including valedictorian and salutatorian; these should be tracked in your honors and awards section.
As always, share your questions or thoughts in the comments below.