USNEWS:如何确定AP课程的选课数量?

斯坦顿岛技术高中(Staten Island, NY)
2019年1月2日
圣保罗中学(St. Paul’s School, Concord, NH)
2019年1月3日
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By Josh Moody

现在的教育产业化,促使很多国际高中在招生宣传中都竞相标称自己学校所开的AP课程数量。事实上,竞争激烈的大学招生环境中,预科课程确实可以让申请人脱颖而出,证明他们有能力在更具挑战性的课程中表现出色。因为在AP课程中表现良好通常意味着该名同学不仅心理上准备好上大学,在行动上也付诸了实施。但是,对于那些想要进入顶尖大学的学生来说,到底要修多少AP课程的问题依然存在。对于那些没有准备好迎接挑战的学生来说,在AP课程选择中挣扎会适得其反,低分数和考试分数会对大学申请产生负面影响。因为如果一个学生参加许多AP课程,并且在AP考试中没有获得及格成绩,这这会给招生官带来一种印象,那就是该学生试图在一个他们还没有准备好的领域竞争,只是想通过他们认为会给学校留下深刻印象的课程来提高他们的成绩单;起码这个学生的规划能力与自我认知都不是很好。你认为招生官会青睐该名考生吗?所以,在AP课程的选择上,贵精不贵多,选择自己感兴趣、准备下苦功、并且争取保证能获得优秀成绩的课程!以下是原文。

Advanced Placement classes can set applicants apart in a competitive college admissions environment, demonstrating the ability to perform well on more challenging coursework.

Experts say performing well in AP courses often signals readiness for college. But for students looking to land at a top college, the question of how many AP courses to take persists. That number depends on each student, say school counselors, researchers and educational consultants.

And for those academically unprepared for the challenge, struggling in AP courses can backfire, with low grades and exam scores reflecting negatively on college applications.

“Taking a really high AP course load only benefits the student if they can manage their time and achieve a passing grade on the AP exam,” says Shondra Carpenter, a counselor at Cherokee Trail High School in Colorado.

“We found that there was no boost to academic achievement unless the kids, at the very least, took the test,” says Russell T. Warne, an associate professor of psychology at Utah Valley University who has conducted research on AP. “You have to get the kids to study for and pass the test.”

Carpenter adds that admissions officers “are not impressed when a student takes numerous AP courses and does not earn passing grades in the course or on the AP exam; it shows that the student was trying to compete in a field they are not ready for and are simply trying to enhance their transcript with courses they think will impress a college.”

A 2013 study conducted by admissions officials at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill found almost no difference in the first year GPA for students who took five college-level classes during high school compared with those who took six or more. Based on these findings, UNC officials remarked in the study they will encourage students “to pursue at least five college-level courses” during high school.

Though the research did not indicate that a student taking more than five AP classes is better prepared for college than those below that threshold, the authors said they will not discourage students to take more “if they have a genuine interest and inclination to do so.”

Jack Whelan, director of college guidance at Providence Day School in North Carolina, says he generally sees students taking too many AP classes in high school rather than too few.

“Kids and parents hear that colleges expect to see AP classes on a transcript, but just taking these classes does more harm than good if the student isn’t ready for such high-level work,” Whelan wrote in an email.

To determine how many AP courses to take, students should review their academic success in rigorous classes and consider other extracurricular engagements and social commitments, says Kat Thomson, MCAT curriculum manager at Magoosh, a California-based test preparation company.

“As a general rule of thumb and starting place, I don’t recommend students take on more than 15 hours of commitments on top of regular schoolwork. And in my book, demanding AP classes and college applications count as extra commitments, so a student might need to cut back a bit in extracurricular activities and part-time jobs,” Thomson wrote in an email.

Part of the appeal of AP classes to students is the rigor, says Debra Landesberg, a certified college counselor and founder and president of My College Resource.

Another draw for AP classes in high school is the possibility of earning college credit. Experts emphasize students must pass the AP exams to earn credit, not merely complete the course.

For high school students seeking college credit via AP exams, the outlook is mixed. While some colleges offer credit or waive prerequisites for high scores on AP exams, others don’t, particularly selective schools.

Thomson notes the “advantage is clear” for earning credit or skipping prerequisites: Students save money and may be able to graduate early thanks to the work they put in during high school.

Rather than overload themselves, experts suggests that students concentrate on AP courses they are interested in and feel confident they can pass. With that in mind, Warne says students should consider what they want to get out of AP, such as using it to shop for a college major or explore other academic interests. One example he cited is STEM majors – students focused on science, technology, engineering and math – who should concentrate on those classes to prepare for college.

But Warne also cautions against the expectation that passing AP exams will lead to significant savings.

“The idea, for example, that taking and passing a whole bunch of AP tests can shorten your time in college and save tuition money – that almost never happens for most students,” Warne says.

To help identify schools that do offer college credit or allow students to skip prerequisites for passing AP exams, the College Board offers an AP college credit policy search on its website.

A 2016 study from the nonprofit Progressive Policy Institute found that 86 percent of the top 153 colleges and universities ranked by U.S. News & World Report limit credit for AP exams.

“Only a handful of colleges deny AP credit altogether, but many others restrict the granting of credits. As a result, students who start their undergraduate studies thinking they have enough AP credits to graduate a semester or year early often discover their school has denied some or all of their AP coursework,” the study found, based on an examination of school AP policies.

While experts say AP courses are viewed favorably by admissions officers, Brennan Barnard, director of college counseling and outreach at The Derryfield School in New Hampshire, notes colleges will consider a student’s application in the context of the curriculum offered at his or her high school, meaning the applicant won’t be penalized if few or no AP classes are available.

With Derryfield shifting away from AP courses next school year, leaving teachers to develop their own advanced classes, Barnard said he’s been assured by college admissions officers that the curriculum change won’t harm prospective student’s applications.

Thomson believes that honors courses or classes taken at a local college can be equally impressive to scholarship committees and admissions officers as passing AP exams. She also feels that the benefits of AP classes level off as students take more courses.

“For instance, having six AP courses is not perceived to be twice as impressive as having three. Also, if the workload is heavy, which tends to be the case in AP courses, this often takes a real toll on a student. The courses begin to take the place of other important life activities such as college applications, sports, socializing, part-time jobs, and self-reflection,” Thomson says.

While Landesberg notes that colleges aren’t concerned about a race for the most AP courses, she encourages students to take as many as they have the academic prowess to complete, and to challenge themselves without being overwhelmed.

“If the student has been progressing academically through the previous three years, then that’s the level that they’ve naturally reached,” Landesberg says of students taking more advanced course loads.

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