Students across the country jump through hoops to get into college, paying for standardized test preparation materials and college application fees. But the challenges don’t stop once they arrive on campus and must begin to pay for their college experience.
One way colleges try to ease the stress of paying for school is by allowing students to transfer in credit beforehand to potentially graduate sooner. Advanced Placement courses are a brilliant pathway created by the College Board for students in high school to begin earning college credit that can count toward their future degree. The College Board offers an exam at the end of each course and if students receive three out of five possible points, they are considered to have passed the exam.
But GW’s current policy only gives college credit to students who score a four or above on their AP exams. Depending on the language exam, a student must receive a perfect score to get credit toward their college degree. Considering that the College Board already sees a three as a passing score, the University should modify their AP credit policy to give credit for scores of three or higher.
There is a reason why students across the United States take AP classes and exams. An AP exam can fulfill a prerequisite or a general education requirement that a student might not want to take in college. More students can graduate on time or early because of the AP credits they accumulate.
When I was in high school, I scored a three on the AP biology exam – an exam that only six percent of test takers will earn a five on each year and is known to be one of the most difficult exams the College Board offers. Despite my hard work, I still had to take a biology course at GW, even though I would have received credit for the score at some other schools.
Of the University’s 12 peer schools, five institutions – including University President Thomas LeBlanc’s former school, the University of Miami – give students credit for scoring three points on AP exams.
But because I chose to attend GW, I was required to pay for and take a course that has nothing to do with my major when I could have used that time to pursue classes that interest me or count toward my major to prepare me for a career in journalism.
While the AP exam scores benefits students by teaching college-level courses in high school, the AP program teaches high school students to work on skills that they need to succeed after graduation including effective studying strategies and time management.
College professors may be concerned that AP exams aren’t as substantive as an introductory level university course, but the AP program is designed to ensure that students who choose to participate in the course attain the equivalent mastery level of taking the course in college. Most AP courses taught in high schools span two semesters and cover a semester’s worth of college material. AP courses are generally open to students who have a strong academic record or a certain minimum grade point average to ensure students who want to are able to handle it which only supports why a three, a passing score, should count for credit at GW.
The AP exams given to students nationwide are developed by college faculty and AP teachers. Because college professors mainly write the questions, a student who passes the exam has successfully answered college-level questions and proven their skill in the subject. Therefore, a high school student is being tasked with understanding the same material as introductory college courses and should be rewarded the same. The University gives credit to students who pass freshmen and introductory-level courses so it makes little sense why students who take college-level exams aren’t treated the same by administrators.
GW wants ambitious students among their ranks and that often means students who took AP classes in high school. If the University wants to encourage incoming students to take more rigorous course loads and support students by easing their schedules and budgets, GW should begin giving credit where credit is due when students receive a score of three on AP exams.
Liam Studer, a freshman, is a Hatchet opinions writer.
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