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Clash of Classes

Teachers and students describe what college-level classes are like.

Zahra Khan and Paige Hodges

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It’s that time of year again. The school year is almost halfway over and winter break creeps closer and closer. Walking into advisory, you see the new class registration form and feel a sense of dread. The question looms in your mind, “Which classes will I sign up for?” Choosing a class is a tough choice, but so is deciding whether or not you want to take an AP or Dual Credit class.

Advanced Placement

From the course enrollment guide, Advanced Placement (AP) is a program of college-level courses and exams. AP classes are one way students can get college credit and is generally available to juniors and seniors. LHS offers 18 AP classes for students to take, and seven of those are also Dual Credit. At the end of the year, students are given a test that costs about $100. Scores range from one to five. Many colleges will give students credit if they receive a three or above.

“If you feel like you are ready to take an AP class, you should definitely take them,” senior Sakif Islam said. “They will help you in college.”

Dual Credit

AP is a good choice, but there is still another option: Dual Credit. The school offers 27 dual credit classes altogether. Some AP classes at LHS also offer this. In classes such as AP Biology, students are able to sign up for dual credit. Students sign up for Dual Credit through colleges like Rockhurst, UMKC, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, University of Central Missouri, Missouri S&T and Metropolitan Community College. Students are given credit hours for taking the class and maintaining a specific grade of a C or above. Dual Credit courses can cost up to $400 but typically give at least three college credit hours. Some students have decided to take both AP and Dual Credit.

“I’m actually doing both AP and dual credit since most of my AP classes offer dual credit and I want to use any opportunity to get those hours,” junior Lauren Brookins said. “Some colleges don’t take AP or vice versa so I want to be prepared for that.”

Although Dual Credit is more expensive than the $100 AP exam, Dual Credit doesn’t give you credit based on your score on one test, but from your overall grade in that Dual Credit class.

The Value of College-Level Courses

Sometimes students choose their classes based on their grades, but when deciding whether on not to take a college-level course, think about why you wouldn’t take the class. If it is because of the fear driven by the possibility of a lower grade, imagine how those classes can benefit you, aside from how it will affect your GPA.

“Students should take AP and Dual Credit classes because they want to challenge themselves, because they want to prepare for college and because they want to set themselves apart when it comes to applications for college

admissions and scholarships,” Dr. Rosemary Camp said. “Students who have taken a rigorous slate of courses while in high school are better prepared for college and often are more highly sought after in the college admissions process.”

Although the benefits of AP and Dual Credit are very important, the skills and experiences you can gain are even more valuable to your future.

“I believe a student should take a dual credit course for two major reasons. One, to provide an opportunity to get college credits while still in high school, for a considerably cheaper price point. Two, because it will build the skills for success, for any student going on to post-secondary education,” College Chemistry and AP Chemistry teacher Stuart Jorgensen said.

If students are interested in AP or Dual Credit classes, they can ask a trusted adult for guidance, whether that be a counselor, advisor, or favorite teacher.

“I feel like the staff at the school does a good job at letting students know what they are getting into, especially teachers,” senior Mustafa Mohammad-Amin said.

Misconceptions

For years college-level high school courses have been a topic littered with myths. This leaves some students wondering whether they should take those higher level classes.

Some students find certain AP and Dual Credit classes to be harder than others, but it all depends on the student’s perception. A misconception about college-level classes students think they must be in as many AP or Dual Credit classes as possible.

“I recommend starting off with one or two and from there gage how many more you can do,” Mohammad-Amin said. “But also think about what you do outside of school since they can be hefty on homework.”

AP and Dual Credit classes are found to be rigorous compared to regular classes. Students in those classes sometimes find themselves overwhelmed.

“I feel like a lot of students are pressured to take these classes, whether they are ready for them or not and sometimes it’s not the right decision to take one or more classes,” Brookins said.

The pressure of college-levels can be difficult to manage. Even though college-level classes may seem impossible, they’re not. Being in those classes helps students prioritize their time to work efficiently.

“College-level classes teach you how to study, manage time and work hard. If you’re taking more than one AP class you’re going to be busy and you learn how to prioritize your time,” Mohammad-Amin said. “I think people are just scared of those two letters, A-P. They see that and think of so much work and that they will fail it.”

Future Goals

The majority of the college level classes lack diversity because certain groups of students are more privy to the information about these classes than others.

“Liberty Public Schools is looking to increase the number of students that are taking AP and Dual Credit classes, especially students belonging to minority groups,” Vice Principal Edward Tate said.

LHS plans on utilizing advisory to ensure students are getting accurate information about AP and Dual Credit classes. One of the reasons for implementing advisory every week is because the administrators want students to feel comfortable enough to go to their advisors for advice on topics like AP and Dual Credit.

“There are cases where the students are a little afraid, they don’t know if they’re smart enough, but their GPA says otherwise. One of the things I want to do at my time at Liberty High is be that resource, sounding board, or encouragement to get all of our students into Dual Credit or AP courses,” Tate said. “Specifically, I’d like to see more of our minority students in those college-level classrooms because I know they’re capable of taking them, I know they’re capable of passing them and I know they’re capable of excelling in them.”

Liberty Public Schools Career and Educational Planning Guide 2018-2019

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Clash of Classes