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.

More:

http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/04/25/why-50-students-fail-ap-exams-and-how-to-change-that/

http://www.dukechronicle.com/articles/2013/02/06/some-colleges-weigh-value-ap-credits

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/10/ap-classes-are-a-scam/263456/

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Five Secrets from College Admissions Officers

If you’ve read any of my books, then you’re well aware that I am an angry, sarcastic, patronizing, and pessimistic sonofab#tch. Why? Because our society has made life a deceitful game. Everyone seems to be out for their own interests. The Capitalist Creed is to get as much as you can while giving away as little as possible. Hold everyone else down so you can do better yourself. In this environment, it’s virtually impossible to find the truth beneath countless layers of BS. Fortunately, the world still has a few people like me. I’m like the Edward Snowden of parenthood. And I’m here to tell you there’s a secret back door to everything. I’m not afraid to ask questions that might make the typical person uneasy. While everyone else in a room is small talking about fishing or weather, I’m cutting through to the things that really matter. I had the opportunity to chat with three unrelated college admission officials off the record, and I found the secrets to getting your son, daughter, or self admitted to just about any school you want regardless of your grades or ACT scores. Here are five of the most important secrets I unearthed from these people in the know. There are more, but I’ve been told to keep those to myself so I can have a leg up on you.

SECRET ONE: VOLUNTEER. A LOT.

Here in the Sunshine State, you are required to volunteer at least 100 hours during your high school years to be eligible for certain forms of financial aid. Personally, I think it’s a wonderful idea to give back to your community. Recruiters are well aware of this requirement. Even if you’ve spent 150 hours in a quarantined Nigerian camp treating Ebola patients, college recruiters probably won’t be impressed. What will impress them is if you have spent a few THOUSAND hours of your life doing something. There are countless volunteer opportunities, many of which may be in the field you’re going to pursue. Admissions officers are looking for serious students who make true sacrifices with their time, eschewing keggers and Kardashians in favor of something a bit more productive. One officer admitted that she weighs volunteer experiences higher than GPA or ACT scores.

SECRET TWO: BE AN INNOVATOR.

Universities dig people who are, um, cleverer? If you’ve done something nouveau, by all means, let the world know! Create a new high school club that promotes something for the good of all womankind. Societies for minority or women engineering and programming seem to be the topics du jour. Or chair a new volunteer organization that helps someone or something less fortunate, and show your fund raising chops. Submit press releases to local news outlets and snip the resulting articles to attach to your high school resume. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, save the world, or create a new idiom, but you should always aim to build a better mousetrap.

SECRET THREE: BE A GROWN UP.

Hold a job for more than a few weeks. Show that you were good enough at that job to get promoted several times. Flaunt all the glorious awards you’ve won including Employee of the Decade or Best Sales of the Millennium. Internships are wonderful opportunities to introduce yourself to potential employers as well as building a very respectable resume. Some internships are actually paid. And if you can keep your grades respectable while working a job, well, shucks, that goes even further to show what a wonderful character you are.

SECRET FOUR: BE INVOLVED.

Join the band. Play a sport or two, even if it’s JV. Run for student government. Write for the student yearbook. Even prom committee (gag) may be helpful. One admissions gatekeeper agreed that well-rounded students with positive communal life experiences tend to be better students than academic types. They’ll take a busy well-rounded kid over a 4.0 introvert any time. Why? They’re better at talking up the school later in life and soliciting contributions from like-minded successful people. Everyone has their hand out.

SECRET FIVE: WRITE WELL. OR HIRE SOMEONE WHO DOES.

That admission essay is critical. Yes, they do read them. If you’re going to write it yourself, have someone who’s smarter than you proof it for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Make it personal. The best essays describe a personal situation — stories about overcoming hardships seem to work the best. Other great topics include your volunteer activities, your innovations, any jobs you’ve held, and your level of involvement in school activities. And if it’s a tear-jerker, you’re in. Just make sure you can back up your story if and when you arrive for the interview.