Dual Enrollment vs AP Classes.

I said I was poopcanning this blog, but this is too important not to share.

2014-11-13 18.13.57Each year, a non-profit organization known as the College Board administers tests to seven million students via the SAT and the Advanced Placement (AP) Programs. Theoretically, a child taking an AP course in high school is exposed to a rigorous college-like curriculum. Towards the end of the school year, students voluntarily take an $87 AP test to determine if the student has absorbed enough information to accrue college credits for that particular course. Scores from 1 through 5 are issued by the College Board based on multiple-choice questions and a “free-response” section. Participating colleges decide whether or not to allow these AP classes to stand for college credits based on their own internal rules. Some colleges refuse to acknowledge AP scores or coursework. Regardless, College Board head David Coleman earns somewhere between one-half to three-quarters of a million dollars a year. That sure seems quite ludicrous for a non-profit.

Here’s the problem. Well, actually, I have many problems with this whole AP thing.

  1. Upwards of 50% of all students who take AP tests will fail. Teachers and/or students in many school districts are unprepared for this level or coursework, or perhaps there is something fundamentally wrong with the tests or those who grade the AP tests. That’s a whole year of a tremendous effort with little reward, and Mr. Coleman still gets his $87 regardless of your outcome.
  2. Many colleges including Brown, Dartmouth, Duke, and others have decided to cease recognizing even the best AP scores for credits citing that AP courses could not possibly reflect the nature and content of a true college level course.
  3. High school classes are understandably censored, effectively eliminating critical facts, dialogue, and discussions.

College in America is ridiculously expensive. I’m not sure which idiot proposed the rule that parents should shoulder the entire brunt of the cost of a college education, but I’m certain many people would like to kick her ass. Anything you can do to offset those ridiculous college costs is a bonus. But AP is looking less and less attractive by the minute. So what’s your little genius to do?

Many high schools partner with local state or community colleges and offer “dual-enrollment” courses. These are legitimate college courses taught by college professors in a collegiate environment. Upon successful completion of these courses, your child will receive indisputable college credit which will be recognized by most of the public universities in your state, effectively reducing the overall cost of your college experience. Books, most fees, and the courses are paid for with public school funds, and other than the final exam, there is no ridiculous $87 third-party test to worry about at the end. If you passed the course, you got the credit.

And now, in many states, dual-enrollment courses are weighted as high as AP classes are when calculating grade point averages. Why that wasn’t the case before is anyone’s guess. I think dual-enrollment classes should be weighted more than AP.

So regardless of what your counselor tells you, taking AP courses is not the best choice for your child’s path to success. We’ve pulled our kids out of all AP courses and switched to dual-enrollment. Although the language in these classes is uncensored, they seem to learn more and thoroughly enjoy the real college experience. You can’t shelter them forever.