Are Advanced Placement Classes Worth It? A Look at the Pros and Cons

AP Human Geography Textbook

Fiona Botsford

AP Human Geography Textbook

Fiona Botsford, Reporter

As registration for next year looms over students, the thought of taking advanced placement classes might be a scary, and hard decision. So, to help with your decision I have interviewed a few AP class teachers and got their opinions on the classes. Is it worth it? Keep reading to find out. 

The Wonderful World of AP Classes

The big question when it comes to AP classes is, is it worth it? Well, Tony Romagna the AP Human Geography teacher said, “I think because of the system that we’ve created in our high schools, in terms of AP as one path to be on, I think it’s necessary to go down that path if you’re going to be college bound and you want to try to pass out of credit.” 

In other words, yes, it is worth taking AP courses if you are interested in attending college and saving money on the tuition, as well as earning college credits before even going to college. 

Toni Budoff, the AP physics teacher, also believes AP classes are important to students. She said, “ In all of our APs that we run here at Wheat Ridge, we do a really good job of actually preparing students for college by giving you some of those supports and skills you need to be successful in college as an independent learner… So I think that’s one of the important reasons, even if you don’t score well on the test, even if you don’t end up earning the credit, the challenge of doing that higher level class is really important.”

Benefits all students should know about

The number one benefit that caught my attention when researching this topic was getting a higher chance of student loans by taking AP classes. According to Arizona State University, taking AP classes can raise a student’s GPA and “Many colleges offer merit-based scholarships and grants for students based on their GPA, so taking an AP class could get your student closer to qualifying for these financial aid awards.” This is very important and could serve to be useful to many AP students hoping to earn some financial aid. 

The overall reason high school students should be taking AP classes is to be better prepared for college. The Princeton Review offers several ways taking AP courses helps you succeed and look better for colleges. They said having AP classes on your transcripts rises you to the top of the pile. “Advanced Placement classes show admissions officers that you’re ready for college-level work.” and since our school offers weighted GPAs, your transcripts will look better and be stronger against all the other transcripts. 

How to Know if You Should Take an Advanced Placement Class

Traditionally speaking, you should at least look into taking an AP class if you have A, B, or C grades. It’s important to note that AP classes take more time and effort than normal classes. 

According to Romagna, “[if] you don’t mind doing 20 to 30 minutes of homework a night, say three times a week, I think that you should attempt to take an AP class.” 

You will notice a difference between your class work but speaking from someone in an AP class, if you are committed, and put in effort, you can succeed in any advanced placement class. There are also expectations regarding the content of classes. 

Budoff says, “The expectation is that you are doing some of the foundational work and learning, the basic memorizing…on your own, we don’t spend time in class doing that…but that’s the expectation of colleges right… so that expectation of college credit for you should be putting in time outside of class.” Before making your final decision, think about how your schedule works. So, if you think you’re up for it, think about what AP classes you would want to take and try it out. 

Is the wonderful world of AP classes really so wonderful?

Like a lot of things in life, there is a catch with AP classes. A lot of people point out the fact that in order to actually get the college credits promised by taking an AP class, you need to get the right score on the test you take at the end of the year. (Depending on the class, you need to get a score of 4 or 5 or else you technically failed.) It’s completely normal and okay to fail the test; however, taking the test does cost you at least $92. In other words, you pay nearly one-hundred dollars for nothing if you don’t pass the test. You may end up paying all that money and not get the right score on the test, and end up only with what you learned in that class to move on, no college credit. 

On the other side of that argument, you still get the practice and the information of that class. You still spent all that time learning, so was it really a waste? 

Romagna said AP classes help students learn how to take tests and better prepare them for future AP classes. Again, if your future is college bound, you will likely sign up for many more advanced placement classes so it doesn’t hurt to have experience with the workload, and the long test in May. 

Budoff also said, “I know there are a lot of people that don’t like AP,  and I know there are a lot of flaws, no systems perfect, but I think it is what you make of it. If you go into it with a good attitude, with a purpose of learning, I think it’s well worth it,” 

When you think about it, nothing is ever really a waste. Life is full of challenges and you’re supposed to try new things and it’s okay if something like this doesn’t work out because it was a learning experience. Overall, I don’t recommend looking at AP classes and just seeing how much money you have to spend and worrying if you will get a good score on the test because learning in school, and taking AP classes, are valuable experiences you shouldn’t underestimate. 

In the end, whatever side of the argument you feel most strongly about, you should take both the pros and cons into consideration before committing to an AP course. Advanced Placement courses are an amazing way to broaden your learning, even if there are imperfections in the system. Think twice before you say no to AP classes because they might be the right thing for you.