What are AP Courses and Should your Child Add them to their Freshman Year?
One of the best ways to help your high school child prepare for the realities of college is to allow them take AP courses. Advanced Placement programs are geared toward building kids to handle challenging subject areas.
However, how do you know if your child is ready for a challenge? What factors should you consider to help you make the best decision about taking AP courses in high school?
This post has the answers. Read on.
What are Advanced Placement Courses
In theory, advanced placement courses allow your child to explore content on a deeper more enriching level, similar to what you might experience in college. In theory, AP courses allow your teenager to pursue college level rigor and possible skip intro level classes upon entering college. In theory, the class prepares your child with skills that help them practice time management and critical thinking that take place in college.
Notice I started each sentence with “In theory.”
This is because even though an AP class might be designed to deliver all of these items, it depends on your teacher and on the readiness of the student to succeed. Neither college credit nor college admission is guaranteed simply by taking an AP Course. The final exam will also dictate your completion of the course.
If you are considering signing your child up for AP courses visit this link for additional information. I would also consult parents of students who have taken the course previously. What was their experience?
The trouble occurs when your child is placed in an AP course and they are NOT ready. This episode of School Counselor Gone Rogue talks about the ins and outs of AP Courses with a current AP teacher as a guest!
Are AP Courses Required?
Starting high school can be really awesome. The new environment, subject areas, teachers, and attention to GPA can be demanding.
Many students feel that taking all AP courses throughout high school will increase their college credit. Inasmuch as it’s true that AP courses improve college credit, taking all advanced courses matters little when you aren’t ready for the challenge.
So, the answer to the question is NO. Let’s take the reasons.
First, AP courses are designed to be more demanding and time-consuming. The structure is similar to the one used in colleges. Now, the goal is to ensure that students who take these advanced classes are mentally and physically capable of spending more time with their academics.
A student who is only good at a few courses shouldn’t be encouraged to take AP courses. Otherwise, he/she may end up with a distressing GPA.
Second, AP courses produce great results in students when such students have learned to organize their schedules and balance their lives. Students who are poor at time-management will find AP courses overwhelming and seemingly impossible.
AP courses are just one of the options for improving your chances of getting into college. Yes, colleges want to see that student have challenged themselves in high school. Nonetheless, if the hassle of AP classes doesn’t seem like something your child can handle, then, consider honors classes.
What Factors should you Consider Before Signing your Child up for AP Classes
Below are five areas of concern which should guide your decision making about AP courses for your child:
Your Child’s GPA
Where does your child excel at school? What topics do they enjoy? This might be an indicator that an AP course in that subject might intrigue them. AP courses can build the GPA, but they can also tear it down. What is the weight of an AP class on your child’s GPA? If they receive a D or lower in the AP course it might harm their GPA. A low grade in an AP course might also cause them to repeat credit. What is the data showing you?
Your Child’s Schedule
Your child’s schedule also determines his/her chances of registering for AP courses. Since AP courses are often time-consuming, packed with a plethora of assignments, and mentally draining, your child needs to have a flexible schedule that allows them to commit to school work. This episode of School Counselor Gone Rogue discusses student overwhelm and it’s impact on students in greater detail.
AP Chemistry, AP Calculus, or even History requires long hours of reading and commitment. Does your child have the skills needed for intense reading, brainstorming, and writing?
Have you noticed them lacking a balance of school work and play time in middle school? The smack in the face, wake up call that AP courses provide might send them into shock. Students can certainly build skills that can prepare them for AP Courses, but do you think they will change over night? I think not!
If academic coaching is a tool that can help your child build the skills they need to handle AP courses schedule a parent consult at www.teampasch.com/chat
Previous Academic Performance
Your child’s abilities in specific subjects equally affect the decision to take AP courses. If he/she has been excelling in subject areas previously offered, then you should encourage them to go for the advanced classes.
Your Child’s Interests
The more interest your child has in specific subject areas, the easier it becomes for them to pass the AP Courses. For instance, if your child loves Philosophy, her chances of scoring high grades in its AP course variant are very high.
The Bottom Line:
Are you trying to help your child determine if he/she is ready for AP courses? What you’ve read above is a start to the questions you should ask in regards to choosing/not choosing AP courses in high school.
If you ultimately decide to go for these challenging courses, remember, you have the right to wait until sophomore year. Go easy with them and increase the number of AP courses you offer as you get more familiar with the new terrain. If your child is ready to take the plunge as a freshman AWESOME! You now know that you have asked the critical questions to consider when taking an AP course. Now you can make the decision with confidence.
Do you need more information on guiding your high school child? Talk to me now. Together, we can make your child a rockstar student!
MA Counselor ED, ACC Academic Coach
Team Pasch Academic Coaching