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The AP Question: Skip It Or Suffer?

The switch-off between taking Advanced Placement classes and receiving less than a 4.0 VS. taking normal classes and having a perfect GPA can be a difficult decision.

Natalia Maverakis

The switch-off between taking Advanced Placement classes and receiving less than a 4.0 VS. taking normal classes and having a perfect GPA can be a difficult decision.

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You are up late doing AP homework and stop and think, why do I take these classes? Do colleges even care as long as I have a 4.0 GPA?

The facts are that colleges want you to challenge yourself, and they want you to succeed. This means that most colleges prefer that you take AP courses, but they also expect you to succeed when you take them.  When you do well in these classes, it lets colleges know that you have what it takes to be successful in an undergraduate environment and that you are not afraid of hard work.

In a recent interview, Lynette Mathews from the College Planning Center said that the number one thing that colleges look for is that you have had a rigorous high school curriculum that has challenged you. She also said that grades that represent a strong effort and slightly lower grades in AP classes are preferred to A’s in less challenging classes.

Colleges want you to take challenging courses, but they also like to see a 4.0 on your transcript. In fact, in a recent survey, most colleges would accept a student with a 4.0 grade point average and a score of 1000 on their SAT test over a student with a 3.0 grade point average and a score of 1400 on the SAT test. A 4.0 grade point average with AP classes is still preferable to over a 4.0 grade point average with regular courses.

AP classes also have an array of other benefits. Not only can thousands of dollars be saved, but you can also receive  advanced placement in college classes. Taking AP classes also means a potential to get out of introductory classes in college, which gives you the opportunity to focus on work that interests you most. College skills are also built by taking these classes and you are more likely to graduate in four years if you have taken AP classes in high school.

AP classes and good grades are not all that colleges consider, though they are the top two things that they look at, according to the IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association).  They also look at things such as your involvement in community service, extracurricular activities, and leadership positions in either school clubs or your extracurricular activities. Members of the IECA say that taking these leadership positions shows colleges that you are prepared to lead clubs and activities at their schools and that this is highly desirable.

What about community service? “When colleges look at your involvement in community service, they want to see quality, not quantity,” said Mathews. Colleges want to see you involved in work that has meaning to you and shows relation to your extracurricular activities, or service that has quality.

In short, colleges just want to see that you have challenged yourself and that you are contributing to your school and community in positive ways.

 

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The AP Question: Skip It Or Suffer?