By Alex Stanley ’12
Do colleges really take into account whether a student took Advanced Placement classes?
The quick answer is “yes,” but it is more complicated than that.
AP classes really only come into play when applying to a top-tier college, according to college counselors.
These colleges like to see that students have challenged themselves by taking rigorous courses throughout high school.
“At highly selective colleges and universities, AP coursework is expected (of students) and essential to be competitive in their applicant pools,” said college counselor and former Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Notre Dame, Ms. Katie Cardinali.
Highly selective universities would rather see a student get a lower grade in a more challenging class, than getting a high grade in a regular course.
“The rigor of course work is one of the most important things,” Ms. Cardinali said.
Robert Balint ’09, a freshman at Boston College, said this gives the applicant “street cred.”
Despite the heavy expectation of AP classes from top-tier universities, there are many other factors that weigh in more than these rigorous classes.
“Universities like Stanford or Harvard literally get thousands of (applications) from students with tons of AP classes. Taking 11 AP’s is not unique when compared with the thousands around the nation doing the same,” said Devon McClelland ’09, a freshman at the University of San Diego.
SAT scores, transcripts, essays and involvement in extracurricular activities are just as important, if not more important, than taking AP classes, according to McClelland.
Keep in mind Ms. Cardinali’s advice: “(Students) can still get a superior education at other schools.”