Published: March 1, 2015
By Shauli Bar-On
The terms “graduating with honors” and “AP credit” are common terms students hear before and during their high school careers. However, the reason a student enrolls in an excelled course should not be to pad their resume, or for extra GPA points.
Before we explore the benefits of these courses, we need to understand what an honors course entails and what makes certain classes harder than others. A large portion of this difficulty may come from the workload, the depth of the material, and hard tests. However, the biggest factor in a class’ difficulty is the class environment. .
For the most part, students who sign up to take honors and AP classes are those who wish to challenge themselves, those who wish to work hard, and those who wish to learn the material in depth. In contrast, the college prep, or “regular” classes, are composed of students with less interest in that particular subject. This factor is of uttermost importance because since the class is comprised of students who are hungry for material, the class level, pace, and commitment, is exponentially greater.
The benefits associated with these higher level classes are much more sophisticated and important than “looking good for college”. When a student signs up to take an advanced course, they are putting themselves alongside students who share similar interests, learning abilities, and intelligence levels as themselves. By doing so, students will make more friends, learn much more, and be academically challenged.
When deciding if a student is ready to take on an advanced course, they have to consider the whole picture. There are several indicators that should be triggered if a student is prepared and capable of taking a certain class. While the grade in the college preparatory prerequisite class is not the most important element in making this decision, it should not be overlooked. It is recommended a student earned at least a B in the previous class before enrolling in the honors course. The previous grade does not entail how much a student learned the previous year, it simply proves that student is willing to work and study hard.
A student must significantly think about is how much each school subject interests them. If science, for example is not a subject of interest, then a student should not enroll in AP Chemistry, or AP Biology. However, if medical school sounds appealing, then they definitely should. Likewise, if a student hates reading and writing, AP United States History or AP Literature may not be the best class for them. Since students in those enrolled in the class are committed and intrigued by these areas of study, students with no interest will have a significant disadvantage and lack of motivation.
If a student has to think twice about whether or not they want to take on the challenge of a certain AP class, then the class is probably not going to be of interest to them. If students are passionate about an area of study, AP classes provide an excellent challenge and group of students to be around.