The Student News Site of Paso Robles High School

Crimson Newsmagazine

Crimson Newsmagazine

Crimson Newsmagazine


This poll has ended.

What is your New Year's Resolution?


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.

Are AP classes worth it?


The short answer is maybe. 

June, July, August – BAM. Freshman year and the academic impact of your highschool career has begun, everyone! What’ll be worth it? 

AP classes are a staple in high school, advertised to freshman as a holy grail of ambition and work ethic that will score you a couple of college credits. For seniors, APs are a step up in the competitive application process. 

These things are true, but don’t let these ideals fool you. The benefits of AP are conditional and might not make much difference to your college experience. 

The effectiveness of an AP experience for a high schooler depends on the major, the school, the transcript, and the class itself. 

Yes, taking AP will give you an academic edge. Most colleges –excluding the CSU system, which regard AP highly regardless– look at a students academic trend, the general direction of academic rigor based on the classes a student takes from freshman to senior year. AP is a stepping stone to building a positive academic trend.

“Most colleges will look at rigor as one of the most important things in your application. The NACAC,  National Association of College Counselling, [ask this question] every few years. They ask colleges what’s the most important thing in order of importance when it comes to admissions, and academic rigor is always in the top three,” explained college and career counselor Tara Walker. 

Taking AP is not the only way to stand out in the application process nor is it the only in depth class offered at PRHS. Cuesta classes, Field Study Collaborative courses, and CTE pathways also rigorously teach content.

 “It doesn’t have to be AP,” explained Walker, “but, if you challenge yourself in areas of interest, abilities, and skills, colleges will take that highly– and that may look different depending on the student.”

In the complex system of independent and state schools, the values of each institution cannot be summed up in a single class.

In some cases, the amount of extra curricular activities or community work factor into competitiveness. Colleges that have holistic admissions consider factors other than academic achievement. Stanford’s admission process, for example, counts extracurricular activities with academic excellence, intellectual vitality, and academic context. Having the experience outside of streamlined study is just as important when applying 

AP Courses do train students rightly and vigorously. PRHS  courses areSsocratic in style, but the workload is in the details and the homework. The time needed to study and master harder subjects and materials add up, pushing students to adopt the skills to manage and persevere, traits valued and needed to succeed in a college course. 

While this sets any student ahead, the truth is that the effectiveness of taking AP classes relies on how many a student might actually take. 

Take too many and no matter how organized or interested the student may be, they might lose a grip on the course, which will be noticed on lower grades by colleges. “When you challenge yourself, you have to make sure that you’re ready for the rigor that you’re able to do it that you’re interested in that subject,“ advised Walker. 

The idea that colleges will offer credit for AP test scores is also conditional. 

A majority of CSU colleges will offer college credits for passing AP test scores. The amount of credits varies from school to school based due to differing curriculums. In some cases, colleges will only grant credits for a score of 5. But, to earn credits with Cuesta, students only need to pass the class. So, dual enrollment will offer more transferable credits to students than AP promises, saving more time and money. 

Four years will be up before you realize the next bell is ringing. At the end of it, the small classes full of jokes, laughter and discussions will have been worth it. The monstrous classes will have been worth it. But, when stressing over the conditional impacts and standardized tests for every other school, take a break and sort things out with a counselor. 


Donate to Crimson Newsmagazine

Your donation will support the student journalists of Paso Robles High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Crimson Newsmagazine