In high school, students are force-fed AP classes because they supposedly measure intelligence and work ethic. College applications ask which AP classes a student has taken, and the best schools would barely consider an application without them. Many schools have weighted GPAs which rank those with more AP courses as quantifiably better than others.
Within the courses, although it isn’t necessary, students are still encouraged to take the AP tests. Teachers justify by claiming an $89 test is cheaper than college tuition.
After all the pressure and hype of AP classes to get into college, why is it that colleges have trouble recognizing them once accepted?
AP is put in a section of the transcript called test credits. “Credits” is a strong word, as AP scores work more like waivers. At the U, an AP score may waive a general education requirement, or it may waive a prerequisite for a more advanced course. However, if a student wants to count their AP classes as elective credits for their major, even if the class it is supposed to equate would normally count, they are out of luck.
Those who took the labs for AP chemistry at the U in particular may have spent their money in order to waste time. For areas of the degree that would give credit to the lab, the lab grade is already included in the AP chemistry test score. According to the registrar office, even though the lab is the same as the one offered at the U and students receive a grade, it only counts as high school credit, and in essence can be viewed as a non-credit course. However, there is a lot of ambiguity and differing opinions on whether it counts, and whether it is worth credit or not may depend solely on who is asked.
Students working to receive a Bachelor of Science may be unhappy to discover that their AP statistics course will not exempt them from upper level statistics, despite many of the classes covering suspiciously similar topics.
Those on a premedical track are told by advisors that a medical school to which they may apply will expect all requirements to be fulfilled through college courses, even if it means retaking the equivalent of AP biology and the lab during undergraduate years.
Each department has different rules for which scores count for certain classes. Even students who participated in concurrent enrollment can have problems equating their college level courses to those required by the university, a problem shared by transfer students. Because course titles vary between different universities, it is not uncommon for transfer students to be required to submit essays in order to fight for their credits, and it is also not uncommon to be denied.
The bottom line is, colleges prefer to accept credits from their own institution, for whatever reason. It may be because of money, or it may be because they don’t consider education from elsewhere to be worth as much — a Harvard alumni responsible for conducting interviews for applicants from the Salt Lake area told me in an interview that the Ivy league institution discouraged studying abroad for this reason.
AP classes are not respected, and colleges should either quit being reluctant to give credit where credit is due or stop expecting high school students to submit AP scores in order to be accepted, only to require them to pay full tuition to sit through a semester of redundancy.