Post a New Topic
Are AP's really necessary?
Original post made
by Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Oct 6, 2010
My child will attend high school soon. How many APs do students take? I understand they can only take them in Junior/Senior years. Doubt they take them to save money at college but rather for college apps. Our schools offer a lot of APs so our students' applications are weaker to colleges if they do not take a load. If they offered less APs, then colleges would know they took all they could.
Is it really necessary for children to work as hard in school as adults? Shouldn't they be able to enjoy life just a bit before becoming an adult?
Do the Ivy's and UCs and Northwesterns really only admit AP students? I read that AP courses are valuable because it separates the motivated from non-motivated students. However, most of our students are motivated anyway and PAUSD schools are not easy. Not like we have a whole lot of weak students and the few need to rise to the ranks of APs to get a decent class. The weak students here are still superior to most other schools. How good is a top GPA without AP classes?
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 6, 2010 at 11:09 am
The original intention of APs - for years - was as enrichment for accelerated HS students. There was no ulterior motivation to take such courses. There was no backlash if one didn't take them, assuming one did one's best in various ways. Students were fortunate (if the AP courses that interested them were indeed offered at their HS, which was/is not always the case) to be able to move on in a subject they liked and were good at.
Yes, you could sometimes get college credit, move ahead, save $, which was helpful.
NOW, IMO APs have become a game, with students aiming to take as many APs as they can stomach for the intent of out-competing their peers during the college apps process. Skill at test-taking is vital in this scheme. There sometimes is little to do with whether they like the subject in question, so I question the value of this type of "learning." It disillusions me that students and parents "use" education this way. Yes, I have known a lot of HS students in recent years.
As a result of this great increase in AP course taking (and sometimes AP test taking), some AP courses across the country are not equivalent with each other or what colleges expect (despite the standardized AP tests), and some colleges are discerning as to credit they will grant. If a kid was placed in a sophomore/advanced level, they may or may not be able to hack it.
To my knowledge, generally PAUSD AP courses are quite good and AP test scores back that up EXCEPT as usual around here a certain percentage will have had outside tutoring/prepping (a practice I dislike as favoring those with $$$, not reflecting individual initiative etc.) and so it is difficult to know where to attribute a student's "success" in test-taking.
I was recently at a university parent orientation where several parents (in a crowd of thousands of parents) asked aggressively about graduating in 3 years, and the university discouraged it. For one thing, they said it should come from the student, not the parent (we are in an era of helicopter parenting which in the end may do a disservice to students...)
They said that kids sometimes want it two ways: acknowledgement/status/credit for a bunch of HS AP courses while NOT moving to advanced univ. courses and NO, you cannot play it both ways. If you want the credit, you must move ahead on the courses. That can be a really, really tough challenge, which leads me to believe all APs are not equivalent by any means to univ courses. The university experience is something special and they offer all kinds of fascinating, worthwhile courses at univs and for some parents, the goal is to rush their kid through ASAP (no, not just for financial reasons), it is a prestige thing and kind of negates the whole university experience. I guess it's then on to med school apps.
However, back to HS for the moment: for admissions purposes the APs remain a strong aspect currently and it is advisable to take some APs. It's a numbers game. However, I am just sort of hoping some of the universities are discovering how to discern self-starter applicants from those parent-motivated and managed. For this reason, I encourage universities to add in some sort of interview or oral examination, wow what that would turn up.
I know a very elite east coast private HS, though, that does not have APs because they decided they disliked this game, however they are so respected that students have the benefit of any doubt and their admissions are not affected by their seniors not having "6 APs."
My kids attend private institutions (where it was not just a numbers game and I believe their apps were fully evaluated) and did not go through the UC admissions process, but if I'm correct UC only requires several APs but I wouldn't let that fool you. UCs are currently overloaded with students. Most students, certainly those around here, go above as much as possible for competitive purposes. There is a 6-week CA summer program that can gain you more "points" towards the UC apps. So, if UC apps are of interest to your student, I would be very well informed about the reality of the process.
Otherwise, for private univs such as you mentioned, it would also be advisable to carefully check out their websites, speak with admissions officials, attend local speeches/alumni events open to prospective students and so on, to determine possible matches. The reason I state this is the college admissions process HAS been moved up, accelerated compared to how it used to be. I do not advocate paying private admissions counselors who claim to have inside info, but let your student drive the process, in their own interest, however try to be informed and you are wise to look into this in advance rather than the last minute.