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April 09, 2014

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Some experience in AP classes from a former high school parent of two.

Not all AP classes will transfer depending on field of study. When asked about AP classes at the university my kid would attend he was taking AP calculus and they told him if he scored a 5 on the AP exam it would count, a 4 they would suggest him take it again a 3 and he would need to take the class again. They asked him about AP Physics and the university said it would not transfer because it was not calculus based.

My other son will be taking some of his liberal arts classes of composition and global issues at the CC this summer and when checking about some other (calculus and chemistry) classes they said no those ones would not transfer. Universities are getting smart in that they make the core classes just a little different enough that they will not transfer from a CC.

Work with the university that they would even remotely work with to make sure that the CC credits will transfer.

BTW I have heard that Harvard and MIT will no longer accept AP classes from transfer students. They are loosing money with AP transfers.

When Harvard and MIT start doing this expect other big name colleges to follow and I am all ready seeing it at my two state collages in Michigan.

It really depends on your major whether or not you can finish faster by taking general education requirements at a CC. I believe engineering is a solid four year program, with certain math and science classes required the first semester. Apparently B.S. majors in chemistry are similar.

We were lucky that our child chose the cheapest option school. It is a very good school and did not see the point of spending a lot more to go elsewhere. Graduation will bring a financial reward. Not only will savings be intact but we will help with graduate school (if it is in the cards) or something else that will contribute to the future (house down payment assistance).

Matt - interesting that they suggest retaking a class with an AP of 4. This is a major switch in approach. Years ago, they would offer you a $40-60,000 scholarship with GPA requirement of 3.0 and encourage you to take the next level class (including honors level). Then you might get a C and your GPA might be 2.95 and they would pull your scholarship. (I know first hand). Now with many colleges offering 100% of need, maybe they figure they are going to have to give you some other kind of aid so making you attend 4 full years is the only way they are going to get their money.

@Tim, The college suggested that you retake it with a 4 but will accept it as credit with the understanding that it was your choice and future success depends on that foundation.

He got a 5 on the test so there was no argument.

College is a big business and they want there money.

AP credit is great but the financial benefits are oversold. I probably know 100 students that received AP credit but I only know 1 that graduated in 3 1/2 years. And now that you are a fast track student, consider what you're going to do during the Spring semester since graduate schools typically only matriculate students annually in the fall.
My niece graduated John Hopkins in Dec but has to wait around until the fall to start grad school at Harvard. I view that as 6 months of lost opportunity cost.
So is it reasonable to say 1% of AP students achieve financial savings? The other 99% can benefit by taking additional 400 level classes to better prepare them for the next phase or cruise with a reduced workload during their Senior year with no financial savings.

I took dual credit courses and had 16 hours of credit from the local community college before heading into college full time. I was able to graduate with a double business major in 3 1/2 years while also working. Between working and scholarships I was able to graduate without any loans. It also helped that I commuted to school from home for the last 2 1/2 years. This was 10 years ago, but even then some state schools wouldn't accept credit from certain community colleges. You really need to do your homework to figure out if it's worth it.

If a student is looking to fill a semester between graduating college and grad school, I would suggest an internship or job. Maybe set up a tutoring business focused on courses in which you did well. I ended up with a job for the 8 months between graduating with my bachelor's and starting law school. It helped put some money back in the bank and was a change of pace before diving back into full time schooling again.

I think taking AP courses and courses at the local community college is a brilliant idea, but as Matt points out, it's important to remember that sometimes credits won't transfer over. Make sure the college you are considering will accept credits or if they are contingent on particular grades. Sometimes the AP score only gets you out of part of a two-course class. For example, I got a 4 on the AP Chemistry exam, which got me out of Chem 101 but I had to take Chem 102 (and I easily passed it because we had already covered all the material in high school). However, my 4 on AP History filled my history requirement at university so I never took another history class. (But then, I really didn't get that good of an education at the university I chose. ;) )

i took AP and dual enrollment classes in high school that ended up saving me a full year of college. I made sure the college I was going to accepted the credits. I also took basic freshmen classes over the summer at the local community college for much cheaper, allowing me to focus my university tuition on classes specific to my major. It saved my folks several thousand dollars, and also allowed me to graduate a year early, in spring 2008, right before the economy imploded. Many of my high school classmates, who graduated "on time" in 2009, could not find jobs and ended up going to graduate school. Now they have more debt and still bleak job prospects, whereas I entered the workforce early and, while not making bank, am much more financially secure and without student loans.

The bar, it seems, just keeps getting higher. I did not take any AP classes in high school. It was not such a big deal 30 years ago ! My kids take as many as they can.

First of all-- the AP class is a small, high level class typically taught by a quality teacher. The students who opt to take the AP classes are the kids who are motivated and eager to learn and represent a quality circle of friends. I see it as all good whether or not credit is received at college. If it is--- its a bonus.

My oldest did receive credit for most of the AP classes she took. The ones she had to retake were an easy "A" ,she says, because she was familiar with the material and it ended up boosting her college GPA--- not a bad thing.


As far as graduating early--- it is not what I hope for my child. If she has the opportunity to lighten her load ( as a result of AP credit) so that she can enjoy the other aspects of college more fully (Clubs, social events, friends, charity, sorority, internships, etc) that would be awesome.

As to the question of college being worth the cost? That is a whole different question. In my humble opinion, its not. $60K a year to go to " No Name" private school versus $20K a year for the top notch public school that is in state---- that is a no brainer to me. Harvard and Yale might be a different story.

And the choice of major is critical.

@tim

That 6 months is not lost time...use it to job shadow and actually talk with people doing the work you child is interested in.

People are surprisingly willing to help out kids especially when they have knowledge to share with the. Aside from that there is always working to save some extra $$$.

It is nice people have finally gotten past accepting "college is worth it" as a truth no matter the price (I guess prices just had to get high enough to make it obviously false in some cases).

But those arguments are still out there under the guise of proving value, still without considering cost. The other day I saw one that basically showed how one who goes to college earns a $1M more over a 40 year career than one who doesn't. I guess I was supposed to automatically equate that to being worth it. But if you start with an assumption that college costs $100K to attend and assume instead that $100k was invested in the stock market, it would probably return quite a bit more than $1M in 40 years, as opposed to if it cost $10K, which would definitely lead to a nice ROI under those results.

When I was in college, in the late 1970s I took CLEP tests and received college credit. Those tests still exist today but you don't hear about them. A motivated student can prepare for them and earn college credit.

If you live in Georgia and graduate with a 3.0 you automatically qualify for the state funded HOPE Scholarship regardless of your financial need. It pays for approximately 90% of tuition. It used to pay for other costs as well (books,room and board), but that is long gone. If the student's GPA drops below 3.0 while attending college, they go on probation and can lose the scholarship. Move to Georgia! We have more students graduating high school since this program began.

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