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Pro & Cons of AP Classes

by Neil Kokemuller, studioD

Advanced placement, or AP classes, are commonly offered to high school students, especially at the junior and senior level. The primary purpose of AP classes is to give students opportunities for more challenging academic experiences and to prepare them for college. However, experts debate the pros and cons of advanced placement for students.

College Preparation

The most commonly cited benefit of AP classes is that they are closer in academic rigor and workload to what students experience in college. Students with strong academic abilities and good study habits often need stringent standards to motivate them. AP classes may draw out higher-level goals, more creativity, stronger study skills and better learning among students mentally and intellectually ready to take on the challenges.

College Credit

A more tangible benefit of advanced placement is college credit. Many high schools and colleges have formed partnerships whereby students receiving AP credit also get credit for entry-level college courses. These partnerships are often referred to as dual credit. In some cases, students taking many AP classes during their last couple years in high school can enter college with one or two semesters worth of course requirements already met. This factor also leads to tuition savings.

Stress and Burnout

In some cases, students take AP classes because they feel pressure from parents or teachers to do so. Other times, they feel like they need to for better college preparation. However, some students simply aren't prepared for the rigor of several AP classes at once. The extra work and higher standards may put stress and pressure on students that lead to burnout and poorer performance in the long run, according to a May 2012 "U.S. News & World Report" article.

Opportunity Costs

Because of the extra workload and pressure, students in AP classes may miss out on other opportunities that their peers get while in high school. Students solely focused on top academic performance in high school may not get involved in sports, clubs and extracurricular opportunities because all of their spare time is spent studying, or working in some cases. An April 2013 article in "The Washington Post" suggests that AP programs don't always produce the academic benefits and college prep that they promise. Some students might benefit more by getting involved in out-of-class development experiences in combination with more traditional course work.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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