The name says it all: Advanced Placement

Elizabeth Wheless, Staff Writer

Going above and beyond what a regular or honors class can give, AP classes give a major advantage when it comes to GPA and college performance.

Ever since my sophomore year, I have been a huge advocate for AP classes. So far, I have taken six. Each class has been difficult, sure, but the rewards are incredible. I’ve learned, and retained, more knowledge than I have in any other classes. AP classes are a great tool for students to learn more about how college classes work and how different the world outside of high school is.

One of the main arguments I’ve heard against AP classes is that no matter how hard you try in the class, that grade doesn’t matter, only the AP score does. True, if you score lower than a 3, you don’t receive college credit. That’s the harsh reality of college. Most classes are pass-fail. You won’t always succeed. That’s the reality of well…reality. Not everything that you work your hardest at will give you the result you want. AP classes teach this.

I took AP Environmental Science online my junior year, and I passed the class with a high A. I thought I would pass the AP exam the same way, but I didn’t. I got a 2 and that crushed me because I worked hard in that class. I didn’t get mad at myself or the teacher or the class. I accepted that I tried my best and moved on. Sure, I’ll have to take the class again when I’m in college, but at least then I’ll be prepared for all that I wasn’t prepared for my junior year.

My GPA has not suffered because of that 2. On the contrary, it has been boosted by it. AP classes are given a two quality point raise for seniors, one for all other classes. Meaning that if I finished an AP class with an 80, I technically passed with a 100. COA classes are only given one quality point. A small difference, but if you passed an AP with a 70, you’d have a higher grade than if you passed a COA with that same 70. It pays off in the end to be in AP classes…for me.

For those who are not seniors, AP and COA classes are given the same number of quality points. This means that someone taking four AP classes and working five hours a night gets the same amount of credit as someone taking four COA classes and spending their time on Quizlet.   

Not only do AP classes help with GPA, they help with college acceptance and scholarship offers. According to The College Board, “31 percent of colleges and universities consider a student’s AP experience when making decision about which student will receive scholarships.”

AP classes are a special kind of class. They are not focused on grades or test scores, like so much of school is, they are focused on preparing its students for college. We are so used to our self worth and value being based on these grades and numbers. I was stuck in this mindset until BC Calculus. Make no mistake, I was scared to death of BC Calculus. I only took it because it fit my schedule, but I’m so glad I did. That was the first class that taught me that my performance on the final exam was not a reflection of my performance in class.

I didn’t pass BC with an A, far from it, but I did end up with a 5 on the exam. (I still have no idea how). To me, my grades didn’t reflect that of a student with a 5, but in reality, somehow they did. BC Calculus showed me that there is so much more to me than what my grades say. It was the first time I was taught this in over a decade of learning.

I’m currently in a COA class. It’s…different, to say the least. I’m used to assignments being challenging and stimulating, but in my class, I feel like I’m not learning a single thing. I read out of a textbook, and write down what the book says. I’m passing, but at what cost? I’m not retaining any information. I’m not broadening my mind and growing as a student. As a person so used to AP classes and their ability to both challenge and teach, COA classes are a change of pace, and not for the better.

AP classes open up a world of possibility and expansion of my mind. COA classes shut that door and perpetuate the thought that grades are all that matter about a student. What is your choice?