As you look ahead to your last high school years, you may have heard about Advanced Placement (AP) classes and their importance. You may feel that you are ready for the academic challenge of an AP course, but you may also be wondering whether AP courses will really help you get where you want to go. Specifically, will taking AP courses make it easier for you to get into the college of your choice?
Make Your Transcript Stand Out
While there are many reasons for taking AP classes, when it comes to college admissions, the way they can help you most is by making your transcript stand out. AP courses are harder than regular high school courses, more on a level with undergraduate college level classes, so the fact that you take such courses in high school is a good indicator that you are ready for college level work. By taking AP level courses, you will be providing college admissions counselors with evidence that you take your academic career seriously.
Make Sure You’re Ready
Of course, it’s not just enough to “take” an AP course. It’s also important that you do well in it. Taking a more difficult level course may show your seriousness, but you also want to show follow-through. That’s not to say you should become worried if you have a few lower grades, especially if they are in extra challenging courses. Some colleges would still prefer to see you tackling the harder courses even if you get slightly lower grades. However, enough low grades, even in challenging courses, could adversely affect your overall grade point average, which could affect your chances at getting into the college you hope to attend.
So choose wisely when it comes to enrolling in AP courses. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking too many at once or by taking one in a subject for which you’re not prepared. If you don’t feel strong in a subject, it might be better to take a regular course or an honors level course without pushing to AP level. Consider other factors before you enroll in an AP course too, like whether or not you have the time to devote to the class. AP courses typically have heavier work loads, and those can be hard to carry if you’re involved in extra curricular activities or a part-time job. Although your transcript is one of the most important parts of your record, college admissions officers do look at other factors when they’re determining whether or not to accept you into their school. You will have a chance to share more about yourself in interviews and via your essays. Admissions officers may be impressed by your real-world work experience, your ability to handle adversity, or the way your activities outside of school show well-rounded interests.
AP courses can provide you with academic challenges and help you to improve your reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. They may also help open the door to scholarships. In the end, those skills and opportunities, as much as the presence of the AP classes on your transcript, may help you get where you want to go and to do well once you arrive there.