Why AP? A Savings Story
With homework, clubs, sports, and friends to juggle, it can be difficult for a high schooler to justify the added pressure and workload of an Advanced Placement (AP) class – book your private Irvine AP tutor today. US History was hard enough, right? Why would you want to throw an AP in front of it and make your life that much harder?
Because it might help you save $70,000.
But before we get to the money, let’s talk about other important reasons for signing up for AP. AP classes are meant to simulate a college-level educational experience. This is why they tend to be more rigorous; the curriculum is programmed at a level above traditional secondary school material. As such, when college admissions counselors see that you are taking (and hopefully excelling in) AP classes, this is a signal that you are capable of handling college work. This is a big positive since colleges want to accept students who will be able to handle their classes and succeed in their school.
In many high schools, AP classes are also weighted differently than your standard classes for your GPA. This means that an “A” in an AP class will improve your grade point average and class rank more than an “A” in a normal class. Ever wonder why you hear people talking about GPAs even higher than 4.0? AP classes are usually key contributors. Need a GPA boost? Try adding an AP class and consider finding an experienced tutor to help you make sure you stay on track and get that “A” to maximize your GPA.
Aside from just showing that you are capable of taking college-level courses, AP classes also allow you to cap off the year by taking the AP exam in that subject. And, if you’re successful, you can expect colleges and universities to give you free college credit for your score (READ: Irvine AP Tutor Tips: 5 Ways to Conquer Your AP Exam).
This is where the savings come into play. I can speak from experience that the credit given from AP exams can be very significant to your college career. For me, my university estimates a cost of attendance at a whopping $72,000 per year. Over $50,000 is intuition alone. Without significant financial aid or scholarships, this is what students at this college can expect to pay out of pocket (or out of loans) for a year of education.
However, I was able to find a fast track out of these high costs. In high school, I took seven AP classes: Chemistry, Physics, Calculus AB, English Language, English Literature, US History, and US Government and Politics. For me, this was the maximum number of AP classes I could take since students at my high school were only allowed to enroll in AP classes in their junior and senior years. I took all of the AP exams for these classes to earn college credit, but I still wanted more. Outside of my regular classes, I self-prepared for four more AP exams: Biology, Environmental Science, Calculus BC, and Psychology. You do NOT have to be enrolled in an AP class to take the exam at the end of the year. By creating a schedule for myself and studying explicitly to pass the exams, I was able to prepare myself successfully.
When it came time to attend college, this hard work paid off. My school granted me credit for all but one of my AP scores. For most, I earned 3 college credits, and for a few, I earned 4. This is typical practice for nearly all universities, and their policies for which scores they accept and how many credits they grant can usually be found online or by contacting the school in question. Before I had even begun college, I already had 33 college credits walking in the door – or the equivalent of just over a year of full-time college education.
This allowed me to have more freedom in school. I had many prerequisite classes out of the way, and I had an amplitude of credits for wiggle room. I ended up graduating with a double major degree after only three years. My AP credits allowed me to add a second major, graduate an entire year early, and even have the luxury of taking more fun and interesting classes in my senior year instead of only classes needed to graduate.
Even if your college is fully paid for by scholarships, financial aid, or family, AP credits like this can still save you a fortune. You might not be cutting out a $70,000 cost of attendance bill, but you will be entering the workforce a year earlier, allowing you a head start on your career, gaining experience, and making your own money. Graduating early doesn’t look too bad on a resume either.
While eleven AP exams might seem unmanageable or overwhelming, it can be accomplished by many students with the right guidance. An experienced tutor, teacher, or mentor can help you plan for which tests meet your skill set and circumstances. Did you take honors biology but not AP biology? With some extra help, you might be able to study the new information faster than you think. Do you excel at English but your school doesn’t offer an AP Literature class? You might be surprised by the progress you make with a study plan and official practice tests. Looking for which tests are the easiest for you to study and pick up some extra credits quickly? Many educators are experienced with these tests and with students in your situation and can help you pick the AP exams for you.
My only regret is not taking a few more AP exams. You shouldn’t have the same regret, especially if you’re looking at expensive loans for school. Don’t underestimate the importance of free college credit, and don’t underestimate your ability to learn new material on your own and succeed.
Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.
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