Grade Expectations: Dartmouth Refusing To Give Credit For AP Classes Only Hurts Students

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Ap classesGrade Expectations is a weekly look at education from a parent’s perspective. We’ll talk special needs, gifted & talented, and everything in between.

When I was in high school, I took enough Advanced Placement classes to have my first semester of college completed before I even moved in to the dorms. I took AP Calculus, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Literature, Language, US History, World History and French. I worked my butt off to score 5’s on those tests. I spent hours in the offices of my professors. I convinced one amazing college math major named Greyling to tutor me out of the kindness of his heart. And when my senior year of high school was done, I felt proud of all that I had accomplished. When I went to college, I was academically prepared.

Obviously, I am a fan of the AP system. I think it rewards a lot of hard work done by high school students who are trying to get a leg up in college. It gives these students time and opportunity to take a semester abroad or explore other academic interests. And Dartmouth College is about to lose all of that, because they’re refusing to grant credit to students who passed their AP tests.

Ivy League schools have placed restrictions on the usage of AP credits for years. They only accept so many credits. Sometimes they only apply the credits to your electives and refuse to let them count for required courses in your field of study. Other schools only accept 4’s or 5’s, even though a 3 is still considered a passing grade. I can understand and appreciate these restrictions, especially given how rigorous these prestigious universities are.

However, refusing to grant any credit for these classes at all just doesn’t make sense to me. It seems to minimize a student’s hard work and accomplishment. And as some Dartmouth alumni have pointed out, it might just be an excuse to squeeze extra money from students who are already paying upwards of $50,000 a year.

According to Dartmouth, Advanced Placement courses have become too common-place. They believe that the classes are no longer the equivalent of an introductory college class, and that students who skip ahead due to AP classes aren’t prepared for their workload. All of these concerns pose serious problems and they deserve to be addressed, but simply ignoring AP credits all together is not the answer. Especially since the Dartmouth admissions team will doubtlessly still use AP classes and scores to decide who gets accepted. Basically, students will still have to take the classes and score well, they just won’t get any credit for the efforts anymore.

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