Sunday, February 2, 2014

College Crash Course Part 7: When Junior Year is Here – AP Anyone?

Over the next few posts, I’ll be giving away the secrets to wooing those admissions counselors and luring in an acceptance letter from the college of your child’s dreams. For academic hopefuls, the junior year matters. Time to spit shine that transcript!

The first (and probably most important thing) colleges absolutely drool over is AP coursework and a score of 3 or above on the AP exam.

My daughter never took an AP class until her senior year. In 11th grade, she was still planning to be a professional ballerina. College wasn’t even on the radar. Thus, she crammed four AP classes into her senior year (two were taken online). It would have been easier for her to do two her junior year and two her senior year.* But we were playing catch up. If you start thinking about college before the junior year, you’re ahead of the game. If you can toss in an AP class before the junior year, well, more power to ya!

Here is why AP courses help spit shine your transcript:

* AP courses are equivalent to college courses. In some cases, AP courses are harder than college courses. Colleges know that if you can handle an AP course, you can handle college. Please don’t have your child attempt an AP course if he is struggling with regular coursework. They are genuinely difficult and require more hours or study.

* AP courses offer college credit if you take the AP exam for the course. Most colleges give 3 credits for a score of 3 or 4. Many colleges give 6 hours if a student passes the AP exam with the highest score of 5.** Most colleges charge $300 or more per credit hour. That’s a big college savings and a giant leap toward college graduation.

AP exams are scheduled in May, with specific dates for each test.

A list of all AP courses offered can be found here: you can’t find a local AP class to attend, there are plenty of online options. A few are listed below:

Pennsylvania Homeschoolers:

Keep in mind that an AP course’s instructor and syllabus must be approved by the College Board to count on the transcript. Your student can take the AP exam without taking the class, but he will not be able to get AP course credit on his high school transcript without having completed the approved course.

It’s great to have AP on the transcript. Why not have your child give it a try? Have him choose a subject he feels strong in and then sign up! Who knows? Maybe he’ll garner some college credit and a little more love from that college of choice!

* Very competitive colleges like to see even more than four AP classes. But if your child can fit at least one AP class in before the senior year, he’s doing fine.
** Some very elite schools do not give credit for AP courses but give admissions preference to students that took them.