Advanced Placement High School Courses Should Continue to Count for College Credit


“There should be no carry-over of high-school accomplishments into the collegiate transcript,” wrote BU astronomy professor Michael Mendillo on Sunday in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education in which he argued against college credit for advanced placement (AP) courses. “Offering credit beyond the accomplishment itself (simply because it was not easy to do) is a terrible lesson to give to students,” he wrote.

What Mendillo neglects to mention is that, rhetoric aside, students do not take AP courses for the express purpose of working hard. The primary accomplishment of an AP student, aside from college admissions itself, is actually in advancing or exempting from a course further down the road which one is qualified in.

While the quality of standardized education programs for our youth remains a credible societal concern, the Advanced Placement, a program that enables students to engage in the higher thinking needed for college, should definitely count for credentials in higher institutions.

Higher education should not have the same rigid structure where students of the same age are grouped together despite differences in intellectual capacity. Not everyone belongs in the same introductory college class. The aggregated mass learning provided is, in fact, the worst way to prepare America's educated citizenry. The AP program provides students with a flexible alternative to further knowledge at their own pace, both in high school and – by providing credit to smaller, more advanced classes – in college.

Granted, the product-oriented approach of the AP is not always best for complete exemption from certain subjects such as writing, for example, as AP English cannot replace the analysis in college introductory writing courses that are interdisciplinary and integral to all majors. But in my opinion, a science student getting a year's foreign language exemption for AP Spanish, or a humanities student getting a science exemption for AP biology is completely justified in doing so.

Students taking AP courses outside of their college majors do not need the arguably slight benefits of college classes to AP courses in subjects they will not engage with daily in their academic futures. By getting general requirements out of the way, college students can get their degrees faster, focus more on their interests, or even double major or minor for better future qualifications in the work place.

There is also the financial benefit in avoiding these college courses. In today's debt-ridden economy, students are provided with the chance to significantly lower their tuition costs by exempting from AP credited courses that will not count toward their majors. This will later save years of loan repayment.

Allowing the AP to count for college credit would help students save time and money while providing them with analytical and general knowledge skills to utilize in their college courses. Instead of limiting themselves to rigid undergraduate experiences, students could gauge the level of college classes they should take, and ultimately provide themselves with the unique higher education paths they deserve.

Photo Credit: amitbust