University Honors Program should accept AP science credits

When I was accepted into the University Honors Program, I was ecstatic – until I learned that the program would not accept my Advanced Placement science credit.

The University does not allow honors students to use their AP science credit to place out of the required honors science seminar. Science credits can benefit students because they offer a basic understanding of complex concepts, but it is unnecessary to require students to take a course they have already passed with high marks.

The University might not allow honors students to count their science credit from high school because they want to create well-rounded students who have experienced diverse, liberal arts education. But students who have already passed college-level science courses in high school have shown that they have a well-rounded education. Officials should not expect students to spend college rehashing material learned in junior or senior year of high school. The University should allow honors students to count their AP science credit because they have already shown they are capable of completing college-level science courses.

Students who are not in the honors program are not required to retake AP science courses they have passed. Students in the honors program should be able to carry over the same number of AP credits as non-honors students because they have demonstrated an understanding of whichever topic they learned in high school. Students – both in the honors program and not – who can carry over AP credits have earned a four or five score and demonstrated they are well-versed in the topic.

Students also take AP courses in high school because it is one way of cutting down on college credits. For some students, they only take AP courses because they want to get certain requirements out of the way and potentially speed up their graduation track. Mandating that students in the honors program repeat college-level courses they took in high school puts them at a disadvantage to their peers who are not in the honors program.

I settled on taking Energy, one of the science seminars offered in the program. I assumed that it would be about energy policy and conservation, but I quickly realized that the course was just rehashing material I had already learned in AP Physics. I was disappointed because I came to GW to learn about areas I am interested in, like politics, international economics and development, and national security – not to learn basic physics for the second time.

If the University wants to continue to force honors students to take a science course, they should at least tailor the science courses to liberal arts, especially for those who have taken an AP- or IB-level science course in high school. Mathematics and Politics, a course offered by the mathematics department, is popular because it fulfills a math requirement for students and connects math with a topic they might study. The University should add more interdisciplinary courses so students who are required to take science credits can receive an in-depth education about a topic that connects to their field of study.

Some of the University’s peer schools do not require honors students to retake the same high school AP classes. Boston University provides several science courses, ranging from courses like Energy: The History of a Concept to The Representation and Misrepresentation of History in Art. Similarly, the University of Southern California does not require its honors students to complete a science requirement and instead offers a “thematic option” that lists classes on topics like interdisciplinary writing and critical thinking.

Students who have already completed college-level courses should not need to repeat material they have already learned. The University should allow honors students to use their AP or IB credit in college or work to incorporate liberal arts in required science courses.

Ben Halsted, a freshman majoring in international affairs, is an opinions writer.

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