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The Value of Advanced Placement (AP) Classes for College Preparation and Success

February 9, 2015

Are CollegeBoard Advanced Placement (AP) courses worth the extra work? According to every single Dublin High School alum we’ve interviewed as part of the Life in College and Life After College profiles the answer is a resounding “yes”. Below is a sample of the advice from former students on how AP classes and the high stakes AP exams helped them adjust to college level courses and in some cases graduate early. AP, Honors and Advanced classes (there are 33 to choose from at Dublin High School) can also result in a grade bump (resulting in a higher GPA).

Most important though, AP courses provide students with an opportunity to challenge themselves in subjects that truly interest them – from AP Computer Science to AP Music Theory. But that’s enough from us; here is what Dublin High students had to say:

Dublin High School Valedictorian Malina JiangMalina Jiang – Stanford University – Computer Science: “In AP classes there is a big build-up to the AP exams at the end of the year, exams that cover the material for the entire year. As a result, you are forced to absorb what you learn throughout the year rather than just forgetting the material after a chapter test. You learn how to cumulate knowledge which is really helpful in college.” Read more..

Andrew Song in VeniceAndrew Song – University of Chicago, Economics: “I’m in my third year right now pursuing a major in economics, but am actually graduating at the end of this year. Coming into the University of Chicago I had a lot of AP credits. At Dublin High School I took a lot of AP courses and exams which satisfied many of my general requirements. The economics major program usually takes two years to complete in addition to the general requirements, but with so many general requirements taken care of with AP credits I was able to accelerate the process and will graduate this spring.” Read more…

Purdue University Student Crystal Fisher and Friend on the Boilermaker SpecialCrystal Fisher – Purdue University, Chemical Engineering: “AP classes helped clear some of my credits at Purdue, and AP Chemistry definitely helped, but my advice is to only take AP classes that are relevant to your major. I took AP Micro and AP Gov and while those classes helped my GPA in high school, they are undistributed credits for Purdue engineering. Undistributed credits don’t count towards my degree but do help me register for classes earlier than students with fewer credits. If you are considering a math or science-related major I definitely recommend taking the math and science AP classes. I wish I had taken AP Biology which would have made it unnecessary to take the biology elective I’m taking now.” Read more…

Tristan Elias

Tristan Elias – University of Colorado: “AP classes definitely helped. I entered Colorado with 26 credits, 4 credits away from being a sophomore, which opened the door to pursuing a double major in integrated physiology and neurosciences. AP credit is also opening up the possibility for me to study abroad for a semester, allowing me to get all of the core classes done at Boulder so that I can take electives during a semester abroad.” Read more…

Dublin Unified School District Student Representative Alexandra BrownAlexandra Brown – UC Berkeley: “The depth and the pace of AP classes is what made the courses feel closer to college classes. You’re expected to learn more information in a lot more detail very quickly which is like college. What’s been really helpful to me is going beyond memorizing lists and learning what’s going on behind the material. AP exams are also closer to college exams because you are asked to apply what you learned in different ways, not just repeat back what you were taught.” Read more…

Dublin High School Class of 2012 Graduate and St Marys College of California Freshman Sarah FinnSarah Finn – St. Mary’s College of California: “AP credit and AP courses have helped a lot – I’m almost done with my general ed. requirements because of all the AP credit. St. Mary’s has been very generous with how I can use my AP credits. As a result, I was able to jump right into my English major, I don’t have to take history classes, I don’t have to take a math class, and I can just jump straight into what I want to do.” Read more…

Dublin High School Graduate Katelyn Haubert at Chapman UniversityKatelyn Haubert – Chapman University:  “Dublin High’s AP classes ran at a similar pace to college, the way you have to read on your own, and decide on your own what is important. Unit exams are like AP exams – you have one part that is multiple choice and one part that is an essay – so I’m glad I had that experience while in high school. My performance on the AP Lang. exam in my junior year fulfilled my English requirement, AP Microeconomics satisfied a social science requirement and AP US History fulfilled a history requirement – so AP classes really helped. Taking AP classes and doing well on the AP exams meant that I can satisfy my GE classes earlier and focus on the classes that count towards my majors.” Read more…

Chandler Bullock - Syracuse University Club BaseballChandler Bullock – Syracuse University: “Dublin High School has definitely prepared me for all of the changes and challenges I’ve faced starting college. I’m not going to say that Dublin High School classes are harder than college courses, but the rigor of the AP programs at Dublin High definitely equipped me to take on college classes. Also, with 19 AP credits Syracuse accepted, I will be considered a sophomore by next semester and on track to graduate a semester early (but why would I want to do that?).” Read more…

Dublin High School Class of 2011 Valedictorian Michelle LeeMichelle Lee – Harvard University: “I have found the AP track at Dublin High School prepared me for the challenges of Harvard’s coursework.  In my first semester, I took courses in calculus, life sciences, expository writing, and Korean.  Classes often consist of lectures by professors together with smaller sections taught by graduate students, and supplemental student study groups.” Read more…

Dublin High Grad and UC San Diego Freshman Jamie SomervilleJamie Somerville – UC San Diego: “With the many AP classes that I took while at Dublin High School I was able to be one of the first to sign-up and got all my classes at the times I wanted and with the professors that were recommended to me. That’s not the only benefit. By taking AP classes I was also able to get out of a lot of the entry level classes that everyone has to take like Calculus, Chemistry and Biology. This freed up my schedule so I could take classes that interested me.” Read more…

Aslan Brown - City of Dublin 2011 Young Citizen of the Year

Aslan Brown – UC Berkeley:  “AP courses are reflections of college courses and if a student wants to see if college is for them, because some people say ‘college is not for me’, AP courses give you an opportunity to try college while in high school. You’ll never know if you don’t try. If you try an AP class, do your best, stick it through to the end. You’ll feel more confident – you’re that much more prepared going into college – ‘I can do this’. The thing about college is that you take much fewer classes. The average schedule has three or four classes – that’s it. You may be going to class three hours a day – it’s nothing compared to high school. But taking AP gives you the ability to handle those classes, because although there are fewer classes, they are really hard.” Read more…

Sarah Wolfish Jewish Theological Seminary of America GraduationSarah Wolfish – Columbia University: “Dublin High School prepared me well because I was used to a crazy workload. At Dublin High I surrounded myself with people that were going through the same experience, taking multiple AP and Honors classes, so I got through it with the support of friends that were facing similar challenges.” Read more…

Here is the current list of AP courses offered at Dublin High School:

Mathematics and Science

English

Foreign Language

Social Science

Visual and Performing Arts

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