A parent’s guide to Honors and AP classes

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Author: Dale Price, MBA

Founder, Access College America

Winter is coming to a close and spring is about to be here soon! This is the time of year when students all over the country are registering for next year’s classes and parents are calling Access College America for immediate help with academic planning, “what are the best classes to take for a college bound student?” Along with that question, parents often ask us how many advanced classes should their child take, is one or two each year even enough these days? College is much more competitive than it ever was and so much more expensive too. Success in college planning requires knowledge, skill and strategy. As the leading national provider in college planning solutions, we decided to shed some light on this topic and hope it helps your family when weighing the options for next year’s class schedule.

What Are AP or Advanced Placement Courses?

AP courses are weighted much higher than a 4.0 and when high schools offer AP courses, they are offering high school students an opportunity to take college-level courses. They are combined with college level textbooks and exams often resulting in college credit in the form of advanced standing when entering freshman year. All AP students should take an end-of-course AP final and score a 3 or higher to receive college credit but most colleges require a 4 or higher for consideration.

If your child is considering AP courses in high school then a good baseline is taking one as a sophomore, two in the junior year followed by two or three in the senior year. Most selective colleges look for five or more AP courses on transcripts. Always remember, a B in an AP course is worth more than an A in a lesser course too.

Two Reasons Why AP Classes Are Great

  • Performance and Rigor

There are so many parts to a college application, but the transcripts are the single most important component for many reasons. Class selection on transcripts showcase a student’s standard for challenge plus how they maintained their performance under the circumstances. Choosing honors and AP classes offer insight on the student’s ability to take on higher level courses while maintaining excellence inside the classroom.

  • Affordability Factor

Taking advanced placement classes allows a student to take college-level courses without the hefty price tag that follows later. It also allows them to take these courses in an area of study that may be of interest to them, identify the level of interests they have now and decide if this path should be further explored. Unlike the trial and error strategy that most college students use, resulting in high drop-out and transfer rates.

Two Mistakes to Avoid

  • Peer Pressure

Never sign up for honors or advanced placement classes because other friends or students have selected them. Recognize your child’s study habits, what they can tolerate in the classroom and the current conditions necessary for them to perform at their very best. College readiness is key when weighing the decision to take on honors and advanced placement course load.

  • Grade Slipping

Students have overcommitted themselves when their grades begin to slip in non-AP courses or the extracurricular activities start taking a back seat. High school should be fun, full of self-discovery with time for reflection. Most admission’s officers take a holistic approach to weighing college applications by considering grades, extracurricular activities, standardized test scores and more. One bad grade in an AP course is not harmful but the course could be hurting your child in other areas so choose wisely.

Need A Transcript Evaluation?

Finally, we never recommend taking honors or AP classes for every client. Class selection is a personal decision and one that should be carefully considered based off a student’s availability, overall course workload, ambition and support resources. Let us help you decide if these classes are best for your child with a transcript evaluation, give us a call at 980-474-1281 to prepare, apply & achieve!

Dale Price, MBA is a college admissions expert and the founder of Access College America LLC, a nationally recognized college consulting practice. Dale assists families as they navigate through the college planning process in high school with everything from academic planning, financial aid advice, essay preparation to college transitioning. Learn more about Access College America, visit www.AccessCollegeAmerica.org. Search @AccessCollegeAmerica on Facebook.

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