Jacob Garber: AP courses should count toward general requirements

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Jacob Garber

I am part of a large fraction of students who will graduate early from GW.

My decision to do this is advantageous for many reasons, almost all of which are financial. Instead of spending money on tuition, expensive GW housing and a mandatory meal plan for another year, I’ll hopefully join the workforce early.

Graduating early is made possible in large part by Advanced Placement credits. As it stands, they can be applied toward the total 120 credits required to graduate, and they can be put toward students’ majors and minors.

However, AP credits do not fulfill general curriculum requirements. And that hurts students.

The University should allow AP credits to fulfill general requirements. That model existed before the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences revamped its curriculum in 2010 and should return.

All students – not just those who plan to graduate early – should spend their college years advancing within their fields of study instead of bogging themselves down with redundant general requirements.

The University already offers credits for specific AP courses. For example, a high score on the AP Calculus AB course is considered equivalent to MATH 1231, single variable calculus. But although the University offers equivalent credit for that course to students majoring in mathematics, students in other fields aren’t so lucky.

The policy prohibits students from applying credit they earned in high school to anything other than their major or minor.

But if a student passed the AP Calculus exam, he or she should not have to repeat the course.

The Columbian College wants each student to graduate with a specific set of skills, and the theory is that the general education requirements ensure these skills are imparted.

But a student who received a high score in AP Calculus would surely benefit more from courses in his major than a redundant general education requirement. The University virtually tells students that they already have the particular skills the course imparts, but cannot receive credit for them.

Preventing students from applying AP credits for required courses forces them to spend time taking the same course at GW that they already took in high school. The system prohibits them from enrolling in courses toward their field of study, and gaining the skills that would really maximize the amount of knowledge students get out of their degree.

Changing this policy could attract more students to GW at a time when the application rates have plateaued.

The University wants students with AP credits, who already show academic excellence in high school, to apply. Allowing their AP credits to count toward general education requirements is just another way the University could convince and incentivize prospective Colonials to matriculate.

The playing field is changing, and by improving the AP policy, GW can improve along with it.

Jacob Garber, a sophomore majoring in English, is a Hatchet columnist.

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