You've already gotten some great advice! I'll add my perspective as a former high school teacher who taught several AP courses in math and science and as a current college administrator of an undergrad psychology program.
AP courses are often granted college credit if you earn a certain score and for certain subjects, so they can definitely be worth it. They give you a bit of a head-start in college with fewer courses to take as an undergraduate. If you have an idea of what schools you might apply for college, you can research whether they accept AP courses for transfer credit.
You also want to consider that you may need to earn a high score to earn credit at some schools. For example, AP exams are graded on a scale of 1-5, and some schools will only grant credit for a 4 or 5. Many schools use a 3 or better standard from my experience, but a few schools are very limited in what they accept. Also, some colleges will limit how many credits they'll award for AP exams and/or will only accept certain subjects.
So, to really know if it is worth it in terms of college credit, some quick research will help. All colleges post information clearly about their AP exam credit policies on their websites under topics like AP exam policy, transfer credit policy for undergraduates, AP transfer credit policy, etc. You can usually find this info under their Admissions pages and/or under their info for entering undergraduate students.
This site of the College Board that administers AP exams is great too: https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/getting-credit-placement
On an academic level, these courses were initially designed to be more like a college course. Over the years, these have become more like high level honors courses at most high schools. Some of them are actually more intense than intro level college courses. If you're looking for a rigorous but rewarding academic experience, these courses are also worth it and will prepare you for college well. AP courses can also be a great experience with smaller classes, like-minded students preparing for college, and highly qualified teachers. When I taught AP courses, we'd often have study sessions on the weekend or after school (optional) where we'd prepare for the exams while also ordering pizza, taking breaks together to play basketball or other games, and hangout as a group. It was very satisfying as a teacher to be able to get to know my high achieving students on a deeper level and to work towards a common goal.
Hope this helps!
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Here are pros and cons to taking AP courses.
The pros are that the courses prepare you for the college course rigors that you might face because they are more difficult and require more studying, they provide an opportunity for college credit if you do well on the AP exam, they impress colleges because it shows that you can handle difficult courses, and lastly, they can lead to merit/academic scholarships.
The cons are that if you don't put in the work in that AP class, you could end up scoring low on the AP exam, which might lead you to not receiving a college credit for the class. Another con is that some colleges do not accept AP scores for college credit unless you score high on the AP exam. Also, while in college, even if you receive the college credit, you might have to re-take the course in college for your program.
In conclusion, AP classes are worth it if you are putting in the work and actively studying in order to reap the great benefits.
As many have said AP classes can offer opportunity for college credit and help reduce some college expense. However, if you are pursuing some highly competitive colleges, admissions counselors will expect to see that you have taken AP classes and they will give you a better representation of college level courses.
Best of luck!
You will have to work harder, but it's worth it. Not only that, but your mind is still young and developing. It's a good idea to push yourself now and learn how to study/learn before college. One of the most important skills you will ever learn (especially in college) is learning HOW TO LEARN. If you can start figuring that out in high school then you will be ahead of the curve.
What is my experience? I blew off AP classes in high school, so I did the very thing that it seems you're debating doing. What was the result? I didn't learn that much in high school and later realized that it was a waste of time. I should have applied myself earlier on, got some free college credit, and learned more. If I could go back, I would have taken some more AP classes.
Hopefully this helps you with your decision.
I see you used several medical related hashtags in your question. I never went through any medical majors/classes but I had friends that did and they were busy but felt very rewarded. I mention this because by taking AP classes in high school, when you get to college, you will have more time to focus on those medical related classes. I ended up taking several AP classes my junior and senior year in high school and not only saved money (because through my high school it was free-- in college the same classes went for around $800 a pop) but also saved time in college. In my experience, my AP classes were actually harder than some of my college classes-- so needless to say, they prepared me to an extent. I would not recommend taking any AP classes with subjects that don't really appeal to you-- for example, I was never really into science, I was more into history-- so my senior year I chose not to take AP Chemistry and instead took AP Art History-- had I tried to push myself with chem I would have gotten bad grades I'm sure of it haha. I would recommend you sit down with your guidance counselor if you have time, they should be able to help you with different options as well.
-If you plan to take honors classes anyway, go ahead and take AP classes! These help transition you into the somewhat fastpaced class environment which helped lead me to get a 4.0 for the first time ever my freshman year of college!
-You should consider how well you normally do on standardized tests. In order to gain the credits for college, you usually must achieve at least an average score on the AP exam. If you have a habit of doing poorly on these tests, ask your high school advisor about accessibility services that can help you still achieve the results you deserve!
-Deliberate over which AP class is right for you. Go for an AP class in something that interests you rather than something you just take in order to impress future colleges. I ended up loving my APUSH class because I love learning about history and I already had a strong grasp on US history material. I did reasonably well in AP Lit, but I found myself growing weary with finding the purpose of poetry and not understanding literature terms. Find something that you think will fit you.
Finally, consider the financial costs. This should not be the only reason for taking AP classes, but some college cost an arm and a leg for required classes. My AP exam tests usually cost around $95, but my classes would be at least in the hundreds. It's important to think about whether you want to put your money forward in order to get ahead of the game.
With my 9 credits in AP, along with taking summer classes, I am now a full year ahead of the other students that started at the same time as me, so it's important to sit down and consider what choice is right for you.
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