The Importance of AP Courses in the College Admissions Process
Student Taking AP CoursesHow important are AP courses in the college admissions process? The short answer is that taking advanced placement courses in high school is one of the best things you can do to help your application.

Although grades are important, it’s better to get good grades in AP courses than great grades in easier courses.

A good rule of thumb is that getting a “B” in an AP class is equivalent to earning an “A” in an easier course. Some admissions officers tend to consider the difficulty of courses a student takes in high school as being one of the best indicators to how they will do in college. Some of the most selective colleges want to see applicants take five or six AP classes during their high school career.

Taking AP courses in high school not only looks better to admissions officers, but taking these courses also prepares you for a college-level workload. So, when you are asking yourself the question,“How important are AP courses to the college admissions process?,” there are several advantages you should consider.

Some schools even offer college credit for successfully completing advanced placement courses! However, it is important to remember that courses in college do not necessarily equate to high school-level courses, even at the AP level. So, just because you do well in AP English, don’t expect to be able to bypass Freshman English. Many college like their first-year students to complete certain common courses.

The national AP program is managed by The College Board. How many advanced placement courses your high school offers will largely depend on its size and budget. If you’re attending a small high school which offers little in the way of AP classes, do not worry. College admissions officials will not hold you accountable for not taking classes which were not offered. However, you should try to take as many as possible.

AP courses will conclude with an exam. You will be given a grade of three, four or five on that test. If you do well, this will greatly increase your chances of getting into your favorite college. Generally speaking, it costs around $100 to take an AP exam. Although you do spend some money taking the exam, it could allow you to bypass a much more expensive course. Many school districts will pay for AP exams for students who qualify. So, if your family is on a limited income, don’t let that stop you from signing up for the exams.

Beware, though, and don’t take so many courses that you lose focus. Although taking AP courses and doing well in them matters a lot, you don’t want to become burned out.

The importance of AP courses to the college admission process may not be a deciding factor. However, taking advanced courses does give you an advantage over students who do not take such courses. As part of being a well-rounded student, it is also important to keep an active schedule of clubs and extra-curricular activities.

Bobby Touran is the founder and CEO of ApplyKit. ApplyKit helps students manage their entire college application process and also provides key resources to help them excel every step of the way.

  • The College Whisperer

    Of equal import, perhaps more so with AP losing credit status at many colleges (Dartmouth among them) are college level courses offered by local colleges on the high school campus as part of the high school curriculum. In many instances, colleges will look more favorably at such courses (after all, they are offered by actual colleges, and not by College Board), and there is often a greater likelihood of earning college credit, often by simply passing the course.

    Either way, don’t overload on these rigorous courses, particularly in your senior year of high school. The stats may look good for the school district, but they won’t do very much for your life’s balance or the valuable time you will need for other stuff, like applying to college!