Do You Need AP or IB Courses?

Advanced Placement, AP, and International Baccalaureate, IB, courses have a reputation for being some of the toughest available to high school students. Then there are the dual-enrollment classes where students use a college-level class as their typical high school class.

The classes are sources of lots of stress and homework for students. But, in the eyes of potential colleges, are they worth the work? It all depends on your college goals.

What the classes offer you
AP, IB and duel-enrollment classes give students a chance to be challenged at a higher level academically. If you meet certain requirements for these classes, you may also earn college credit. Getting college credit as a high school student is great because this will help you graduate from college in four years, which in turn will save you money. (Less college = Less money)

Will your credit count?
You will, however, have to earn your college credit. These classes are very challenging, and often have higher homework loads than other high school classes. For AP and IB classes, students must take an end-of-the-year test. Each college has a certain score students must earn for the credit to count. So if you do well in the class, but not on the test, you may not receive college credit for this course.

Dual-enrollment credits are not universally accepted by colleges, and if a student has too many credits he or she may even be considered a transfer student! Most dual-enrollment credit will be counted by in-state colleges, public and private, but it’s not guaranteed. Likewise, out-of-state colleges may take the credit.

If you are considering taking AP, IB or dual-enrollment classes you should contact some potential colleges and check their policies. The college admission office can answer your questions. Find out which colleges accept which credits and what scores you might need to earn.

What the colleges are looking for
Many students see AP and IB classes as a way to impress colleges. It is true that competitive colleges will look to see if potential students have pursued a challenging high school curriculum. But these colleges are also interested in your ACT and SAT scores, outside class activities and overall GPA. Also, the definition of a “challenging curriculum” will vary from student to student depending on your skills, courses offered by the high school and overall academic profile. Search for colleges you’re considering on Cappex to get a better feel for what they value in potential students.

But simply taking AP or IB classes doesn’t guarantee admission to a competitive college. There is no magic number of AP or IB classes a student must take to be admitted to competitive colleges.

Our advice: Take classes in high school that you find challenging and engaging. Use these classes to explore your interests. If that means taking AP, IB or dual-enrollment classes and you earn some college credit along the way then it’s just icing on the cake.