Should You Take AP Classes in High School to Save on College Tuition?

Taking advanced placement (AP) courses in high school can be a great way to reduce the expense of college tuition. That is because AP classes are free for high schoolers to complete and may also transfer as college credits.

What is the Purpose of Advanced Placement Classes in High School?

College boards develop AP classes to give high school students the opportunity to experience what completing courses at the college level is like. If you are considering taking an AP class, keep in mind you will need to devote a lot more time to studying and homework than you do for the typical high school class. You also need to pass an AP exam after completing the course for the credits to count on your high school transcript and be eligible to transfer to your college transcript.

The AP exam covers everything you have learned during the quarter, trimester, or semester to see how well you have retained it. You will receive a score from 1 to 5, with anything above 3 a passing score for some schools. Certain colleges may not accept the AP course for transfer credit unless you score a 4 or 5 on the final exam. Since the amount of work required for an AP class is beyond what you are accustomed to, we recommend taking only one per term or even taking some terms off from AP classes.

The Benefits of AP Courses Go Beyond Saving on College Tuition

You should always check with any college where you are considering applying to ensure the admissions office will accept your AP transfer credits. Assuming your college of choice accepts the credits, you have the potential to save at least a few thousand dollars per course.

If you plan to apply for scholarships, you should know that representatives from college admission departments often look at whether students completed AP courses in high school when determining who should get a scholarship. The more classes you take and the better you do, the greater your likelihood of receiving scholarship money. However, you need to balance that with how much time you want available to enjoy the typical high school experience.

Completing AP courses in high school is also attractive from an admission perspective. You have the opportunity to demonstrate that you can handle a college-level course while still a teenager and do well on the test.

Admissions counselors consider that completing at least one AP course means your analytical, critical thinking, and writing skills are likely to be ahead of your same-age peers who did not take AP classes. They also understand the amount of outside research required to do well in these classes and count that in your favor as a student who is ready to be self-accountable as college professors expect.

If you feel you are ready for the challenge of college-level work and have no concerns about an AP course impacting your grade point average, then we highly recommend it. Please contact Accolade Financial to schedule a time to discuss all your college financial planning tools in more detail.