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Early on in my high school career, I learned that there were more to Advanced Placement courses than just showing colleges the amount of rigor you could handle. College costs continue to rise each year, but earning college credits by way of AP exams is a way to save money. During the college application process, I researched the AP credit policies of all the schools I was seriously considering attending. Although I wasn’t weighing my final decision on how many credits I could receive, I wanted to know which exams would be worth taking. I knew that none of my requirements would be fulfilled for the school I ended up choosing, but that if I scored high enough I would receive credits that would allow me to take higher level courses to fill my requirements.

When I found out my results, I was initially confused about how I felt. I hadn’t scored high enough to receive credit for AP English & Literature, but I was pleased that my AP US Government & Politics score meant I was eligible for credit. To my college’s course catalog I headed to look again at the courses I had met the prerequisite for because of my AP credit. To my surprise, the equivalent college course was gone. It was as if it had never existed. I then discovered the catalog had been updated, which included discontinuing the course for which I’d receive AP credit.

Ultimately, I decided I’m okay with only receiving credits for the class that no longer exists. Here’s why:

Credit Isn’t Everything

While the thought of possibly saving thousands of dollars and graduating early is no doubt desirable, the hope of college credit was not my sole motivation for taking Advanced Placement classes. The content of the courses were subjects I was interested in. Like many high school students, I also wanted to challenge myself and show colleges my ability to succeed with advanced courses.

If I had put pressure on myself with the mindset of “I have to receive all 5s and college credit”, I don’t think my performance in the actual class would have been as good. Not everyone is a good fit for one-time exams that decide your knowledge of a subject. I genuinely enjoyed the AP classes I took, and the friends I met, memories I made, and new things I learned while in those classes. My enjoyment shouldn’t be lessened just because I won’t be receiving credit for all of the classes. I’m proud of the work I produced throughout the courses, and I won’t let the score of a single test define my knowledge of those subjects.

There’s A Reason For Requirements

The general requirements or “core” classes selected by a college are requirements for a reason. While some are more flexible than others, they all teach you skills and information a college hopes all its students will gain. For example, one university might require you to take at least one of ten writing intensive class options, but all students at a smaller liberal arts college may be required to take the same English class their freshman year.

Chances are, you won’t be reading the same novels or using the same textbooks, but even if it does end up that way, you will have a different teacher with their own teaching style. As a college student with more experience, you may view subjects differently than when you took similar courses in high school. These courses have been deemed beneficial to us regardless of our majors. Even if we don’t follow a career path implied by our chosen major, we will have other skills, such as critical thinking or communication skills, that can be implied in any industry.

On The Bright Side

Although the college course I’m receiving credit for no longer exists or qualifies me to take higher level Political Science classes right away, I am still receiving elective credit. I view my credits as something that can only benefit me. Maybe someday I will qualify for a program that requires a certain amount of credits because of my elective ones. When it’s time to graduate, those credits might save the day by allowing me to meet the overall credit requirement. Most importantly though, I know I loved the time I spent learning in my AP classes, and I don’t need college course requirements fulfilled or immediate entrance into higher level college courses to prove that to me, or anyone else.

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the author

Cara Claflin is a senior who attends a public school in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Even though she plans to stay in Minnesota, attending college in a state that doesn’t have snowstorms in May is starting to sound appealing. She hopes to double major in journalism and marketing. Cara loves helping high school students make the most of all the resources available to them. At school, she is an editor for her school’s newspaper and takes part in a leadership group. When she has some free time, she enjoys dancing, listening to music, reading, and watching music and dance competition reality shows.

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