The coursework you choose to pursue in high school sets the stage for your college future, and regardless of the curriculum that your high school offers, colleges want to see that you challenged yourself academically. Some high schools offer only college preparatory (college prep) classes, while others offer college prep, AP®, and IB® classes. The most common course course offerings in U.S. high schools are college prep and AP. IB is less common, but has many similarities to AP. Most freshman ask themselves “what classes should I take and why?”, and don’t often get a straightforward answer. In this post, I hope to explain a few answers to this question in detail.
To start, I will explain the differences in each class type. College prep classes follow a curriculum that is designed to prepare you for the rigor and expectations of college classes. You leave high school prepared for your freshman year courses in college. AP classes both prepare you for college and have the potential to provide you with college credits. AP classes are designed to be on par with college courses, and as such you are given the opportunity to test out and receive credit. When you take an AP exam, you are scored on a five point scale, five being almost perfect. Most colleges offer class credit for a score of four or five, and some even offer credit for a score of three! The benefit of these classes is that they prepare you for college classes and let you skip certain college classes (such as freshman year writing courses). Last but not least are IB classes. IB stands for International Baccalaureate, and is a program of classes offered around the world (whereas AP is just in the U.S.). IB classes also offer exams (graded on a seven point scale), though not all colleges accept them for credit.
“So what are the advantages of each?” you may be asking. Well, that depends on the type of student you are. If you are a student athlete, chances are you spend a lot of your time at practices and games. In this way, college prep classes allow you to maintain a high GPA (Grade Point Average) while also being prepared for your college classes. AP and IB classes often require more time than an athlete can give in order to be successful. However, athletes can often take one or two AP or IB classes and do well, but they should steer clear of overloading their schedule with these classes. Similarly, students who are involved in clubs and intramural activities may want to limit how many AP or IB classes are in their schedule. Freshman year is the perfect time to explore what class combination works best for your personal situation. Your counselor will also have recommendations!
In short, what classes you choose to take depends on your high school schedule and your college ambitions. All classes will prepare you for college, and it is important to find balance between academics and extracurriculars. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions of your own please leave them below. 🙂
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