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threebyme

AP or College course?

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I am wondering what people's thoughts are on students taking an AP class at a high school versus taking the (or like) class at their local college (online or in-person)?  I know a lot factors in with the student, but in general if you felt the student was capable of either one- which would you prefer and why?

Thanks!

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We had oldest DS self study for a couple of AP tests in early high school because while he was ready academically, he was not mature enough for a college environment. Later on after he matured he did take an in person community college course and was successful.

2nd D'S was not ready academically for a college level course til senior year and so he went straight to taking a course at the CC, and has taken no APs.

My impression of most AP courses taken at local high schools is ... not good. I think academically inclined kids can do just as well or better by self studying. I realize it probably varies widely according to who teaches it, but that is my impression. It's my impression that online homeschool AP courses are more consistently good.

 

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I think it depends on far too many individual factors to say. CC’s vary in quality so much. Individual classes at CC vary in quality too. The experience of being on campus with older students can be good or bad depending on the kid and the atmosphere at the CC. And then self-studying or taking a class for AP? And which class and exam?

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You may find it helpful to read through some of the past threads on this topic, all linked on PAGE 2 of the big pinned thread at the top this board: "High School Motherlode #1". Here are a few of those linked past threads to get you started:

AP vs Dual Enrollment
Advanced Placement vs. Dual Enrollment (discussion of potential advantages/disadvantages of each)
AP and Dual Enrollment
AP or Dual Enrollment (see Gwen in VA's post with checklist of questions to think through) 
AP courses or Dual Enrollment? (which is better) 
AP or Dual Enrollment -- which one?

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It depends a few things.

  • The caliber of the students.  An AP class at a high school with lots of high caliber students will probably be better than the equivalent class at a CC where the caliber of the students is mediocre.  
  • The caliber of the instructor.  This is always a uncertain if you don't have insider information.  For a CC, you may be able to get some information on Rate My Professors, but the high school version (Rate My Teachers) has eliminated the comments, so it is pretty much useless.  An AP class with an outstanding instructor will probably be better than a CC class with a mediocre instructor.
  • How mature your student is.  Is there any chance of them blowing off the course?  If so, AP is the way to go since it doesn't follow you forever.
  • Affordability.  Public school is free (though the exam fee probably isn't) and includes books.  CC may or may not be paid for by the state, and regardless of who pays the tuition fee, books likely won't be covered.

That said, all things being equal, the class at a CC will be more like a real college experience (because it is a real college experience).  The pacing will be right, and the assignments are more likely to be college-like (less busywork, fewer things in the gradebook).  Many AP classes go at half speed (semester system) or less (quarter system).

We chose AP because we are zoned for a high performing high school, and my son's friends are there.  But even though we went the AP route, I am under no illusions that my son's experience has been somehow equivalent to having the corresponding courses in college, and he will be retaking some of the courses in college.  

 

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I would always prefer the college class, because credit is earned cumulatively over the course of the semester and does not depend on the performance on a single high stakes test.

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Thanks everyone!  Yes, I was talking to a friend and she felt there was an 'oversaturated' amount of students taking AP courses at the high school.  I'm not sure if they are well done, but from what I heard a push from the school for students to take them so made her question the classes themselves?  She was asking about comparing the AP classes to the college course.  Money is not the issue and the student can take an online course college course. So mixing in with lather college students at this time is also not an issue.   My oldest took a few AP classes and passed the exam but in the end did not count for college credit, so I didn't have much thought to compare.  I guess only to say I'm not sure the AP classes paid off for her as she hoped, and she didn't go to a competitive school or anything like that.

i was trying to get a comparison of pros and cons I suppose, and I'll take a look at those links Lori D.!

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In terms of getting credit in college, you're usually more likely to get credit at your state universities with DE credits but at private LAC's with AP exams. And sometimes neither. It totally depends.

I really think all of this is individual. And remember you don't necessarily need either to have a good high school course load and experience.

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It can really depend.  We don't really like AP, because it seems like way overkill for most subjects and nothing more than teaching to the test.  Ds is taking AP Calc this year though and it's fine.  He's doing well enough and it's challenging him, but maybe math AP is different.  In the past we have done only English and HG.

DE has been a real pain for us so far.  DD had a terrible experience with a funky instructor and bad class resulting in less than stellar grade.  DS started DE Eng 1102 this year and it was going fantastic and then the instructor disappeared for health reasons and now he has a terrible instructor.  OMG..it's so bad, she gets "tired of grading" (her exact words) and so doesn't do it.  Ds got a paper back with a check mark and no comments about why he got the grade he did, which was very low, but apparently one of the highest in the class.  He followed up and asked for feedback and she said she'd mark the paper and so far it hasnt been returned (again with lots of excuses about it), but he keeps asking.  All this to say that I am very wary of DE at this point, but we are doing it again next semsester.

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Dd did one AP her freshman year of high school but as soon as she was old enough for dual enrollment in previous state, we went with CC online classes for the same reasons some others have mentioned...credit is earned over the course of the semester not dependent on one big test with a very broad range of possible material (dd tends toward test anxiety). We moved to NC a couple years ago where CC classes are free for DE kids so it was a no-brainer that would be the best course of action. 

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If you live in NC, investigate this:  Recently (2 or 3 months ago?) the NC legislature approved a law for AP course acceptance in the UNC system schools. Before this went into practice, or until it does, different schools, especial UNC CH, had different policies. Now, they have (or will soon have) a uniform policy, regarding the acceptance of AP courses.

Now, the acceptance or non acceptance of courses from a CC, would depend upon whether or not the CC has an agreement with the university. If there is no agreement, my guess is that it would be a crap shoot.

The university ultimately is the one that makes the decisions.  

My belief is that there are excellent AP courses and horrible AP courses and I suspect that's also true of CC courses.

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