Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Advanced Placement? or Academic Poison?

I know AP stands for one of those... You make the call.

So Lizzie has been recommended for some AP classes at high school. Which is really great. It's a huge ego booster, and vote of confidence from some of the toughest teachers in the school. We're so proud of her!

There's a caveat, though. When she went to discuss the English class with the AP teacher, he told her in no uncertain terms, that it was a very difficult class. She'll learn more than any other class she's ever taken, but if she chooses to enroll, she needs to know up front that he DOES NOT CARE about her grade or her GPA.

He grades very strictly, yet fairly, and even his very brightest students do not usually fare better than a C.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't most kids in AP classes to better their chances of getting into the university of their choice? What kid who is driven enough to be recommended for AP classes, doesn't mind taking a hit on their GPA?

I'm looking at my beautiful, talented, smart daughter, and wondering why she is even considering this class. She has aspirations to attend BYU - which you may already know is quite selective, and she is already on the low side of their GPA scale.

She desperately wants to do it.

Her thinking is that when she leaves to attend college, she wants to really know that she has all the information she can. She likely thinks the teacher is exaggerating and trying to scare off kids that aren't willing to work hard. And she's plenty willing to work hard, so what's the problem?

My thinking is that she will then be the most prepared person in the freshmen English class at the local community college, because her GPA can't take that kind of hit. I think that when the teacher tells you up front that you won't get a good grade, you should plan on it.

I'm just wondering what it is that is SO important to learn, yet we don't teach it to anyone else in the school.

Let her do it? or step in and just forbid it?


kristen said...

It's not worth taking the hit. She's better off getting an A in regular English than a C in an AP class (I think BYU would frown upon the C).

Is there an Honors English? That would be different than AP; and the honors class actually boosts your GPA, whereas an AP class gives you the opportunity to take a test and get college credit (if you pass).

But seriously......that C would hurt the transcripts. I don't think it'd be worth it; I would try and talk her out of it. (Although who's to say that's the grade she'd get?) That teacher sounds like a prick. Oh, did I say that out loud? You almost don't want to mess with teachers who mess with your grades and your chances of getting into a good school.

Heather said...

I'm with Kristen. I would highly discourage her from taking it, but in the end she has to make the decision.

East of Eden said...

I agree with Kristen on this.

It's also worth considering too, that with too many AP classes she might become totallly bogged down with homework and miss out on the fun parts of high school.

If she wants to get into BYU, she needs to have as stellar of a record as she can, seeing as how they pretty much take straight A students.

I would also suggest, that if she does not get into BYU, go to a Jr college get an AA degree and then apply as a transfer student. That's how I got into BYU. I was on the waaaay low side of the grades but because I already had the AA, they let me in.

Yvonne said...

Wow, that's a tough one!!! Do they have academic counselors anymore in high school??? (They don't hear, but I know they used to in the U.S.?) If they do, I'd suggest she go talk to them. Also, does she know anyone else who took the class from that particular teacher???

The C would definitely hurt the transcript. I do know that BYU does take AP courses into affect.

Kimberly said...

I'm not just worried about her GPA...what about her confidence level taking a highly intense course from a teacher who'll never think she's good enough?

I don't like the sounds of that. =(

Taking regular English doesn't mean she can't prepare herself in other ways. She can do extra-curricular study in that subject to offset things, can't she?

Stephanette said...

I loved my years at BYU, but the highly competitive nature of getting in doesn't stop there. It continues in every class and discussion you have there. I felt grossly unprepared by my high school classes.

Just to be the devil's advocate in this one. I didn't have straight A's, although I had done really well, and I applied to BYU and Ricks (back then anyway). I didn't get into Rick's, but spent my years at BYU. I think if you are meant to go somewhere, then you will.

I will also say that if she doesn't get in at first, get an AA and then transfer. So many of my friends that did that, enjoyed BYU more and received better grades in the end.

Tami Vincent said...

I think that the honors English class sounds like a great sugesstion. There has got to be another class that will push her and that she can get a good grade in.

"Vern" said...

It would be easy for me to say "let her choose" because it's not MY child. I you wanted to wax economic, you could encourage her to consider the "opportunity cost" of this decision and let her decide which is more important to her, and if the sacrifice she makes (either way) is worth it.

JustRandi said...

She is in the second semester of Honors English right now.
Her choices are AP, or regular junior english.

The MomBabe said...

That's where the school system fails, people.

You can have the super bright hardworking kids in all AP classes getting B's and C's....

And then you have the kids in the regular classes getting A's....

Guess which one looks better on paper? I vote you say no, especially if she wants to get scholarships and stuff.

Unfortunately, it's all about the numbers.

No Cool Story said...

This topic scares me.
I still don't quite understand the way American Schools work, so I find it kinda confusing and that worries me.

(So I'll cover my ears and go "la la la la la!")

I hope it all turns out good :)

No Cool Story said...

No, but really, it interests me, but I find it overwhelming at the same time.

I hope she chooses correctly and everyhting turns out fine.

mindyluwho said...

What a tough decision. I recommend prayer. Prayer makes all the difference. Have her decide what to do first, then pray about the decision and then go with what she feels is the answer. Whatever it is will be right.

The MomBabe said...

alright, I explained it a little bit more....

the wiz said...

I'm going to be the voice of dissent. I say let her do it. BYU is very hard, and any prep she has is great. Also, it's a huge advantage to have AP credit if she passes the test.

It will stretch her, grow her, and BYU takes AP into consideration when calculating GPA.

Also, I had a teacher say that, and he ended up handing out A's all over the place, because we were just that good. I think she's right about him scaring students.

TheDillon6 said...

Let her take the hit, and the experience it brings. What if she DOES take the class and she ROCKS it? Wouldn't that do amazing things to her confidence level?

Despite what many think, BYU is not the only school out there. This country is FULL of amazing colleges and universities ~ most of which have Institutes of Religion nearby. I think sometimes BYU gets way more credit than it deserves.

It seems like within the last 10 years or so the 1st Presidency even put out a letter to that effect...don't send your kids to BYU if you don't live here ~ keep them at home and go to school, and attend Institute. (obviously paraphrased, but a similar message).

I grew up thinking that BYU was the end-all-be-all for college. I worked for a year and then applied and got accepted. I went for one semester and realized it simply wasn't the school for me. I left and I did much better in a small "liberal arts" setting than at the Y. My husband and I both want our 4 kids to think way beyond Provo when it comes to furthering their education, and all the life experiences it brings them.

Janell said...

My advice: don't take it. It's not worth it.

1) Colleges will balance in the difficulty of the class, but ultimately they look at the GPA. It is better to have an A in a regular class than it is to have a C in an AP class. Sadly, there's no way for a college to know "ah, but she's learned ten times more with that C than she ever would have in the regular class."

2) Don't worry about the preparation for college. (When I took my freshman English class a third of the class acted like a "thesis statement" was a new innovation.) It sounds like your daughter is a hard worker to be recommended for AP, so she'll be able to overcome any gaps in her knowledge. (Though I suppose if the AP class can substitute for taking the college itself that may be a reason to take it.)

3) Why kill the joy of life? Take a less demanding class and pick up a fun, interesting, and useful extra-curricular for the college application. I would hope that and A in an honors class and being set painter for a school play (or whatever) carries more weight than a poor grade in an AP course.

In the end though, Mama-bear, give your daughter all of the information she needs, let her make her own informed decision, and then support her in that decision. She won't always have the luxury of having you to make her decisions ;)

Would it be possible for her to take the AP class for the first term and drop down to the regular class in the following term if she changes her mind?

Earl said...

I think BYU "weights" AP classes. And also there is the option of getting college credit for the AP class if you pass the test at the end. One of our sons had at least a semesters worth of college credt before he even stepped on campus at BYU. Some of the others have given good advice, talk to the counselor, and pray abou it.

Baby J said...

AP classes are extremely extremely tough but most of our teachers actually, uh, want us to succeed in their class. I would say take the class at the college. She is much better off that way. I agree with Academic Poison

Melissa said...

That's tough... I know some kids that took AP classes in high school and they worked their tails off... one would have graduated with a 4.0, but she got a B in AP English... she was still able to get in the college she wanted, but all of her other grades were A's... I'm not sure that it's worth the risk...

Jen23456 said...

I agree with Baby J. After seeing my daughter struggle with her AP classes this year I would reccommend not taking them. Most kids don't even take the AP exam. Taking a class that she can do well in and that will give her free time to enjoy band, or swim or whatever else she wants to do will be more fun and less stress. And WHO can't use more FUN and LESS STRESS!! :)

miggy said...

I haven't read most of the comments, but it seems most are discouraging it....I may be a rebel here, but I say go for it! It seems like your girl wants to buck the system a little--she's got moxie and I like it. To me, her attitude says a lot about her. Perhaps it won't be the best academic move, but maybe it will be a personal win. I too wanted be to a Cougar but didn't quite make it (despite the fact that I knew other kids with similar, even LOWER GPA's than mine who got in.) I could tell you some interesting stories about working the admissions system at BYU but I won't. Loooooong story short, I went to UVSC (gasp) my freshman year, then BYU-Hawaii my sophomore year, and then BYU. I LOVED the path I took and wouldn't have traded my non-BYU years for anything. Don't get me wrong I'm glad/grateful I graduated from BYU and I loved my time there...but the direct path is not necessarily the best path.

ganelle said...

Here's where I weigh in as a high school teacher. Some thoughts:
-Have her talk to kids who have had this teacher before. I'm thinking there is at least a reasonable chance that this teacher is going for the scare tactic.
-Do not discount how good it looks on a transcript to have AP classes. Most kids that are high enough quality to go to BYU are taking APs. APs pad the application.
-People seem to minimize the value of being prepared for college. AP classes are invaluable in making a successful transition to college. How many people do you know that spend their final three years of college trying to compensate for lousy grades from freshmen year?
-Have you considered calling BYU admissions and seeing what they have to say about it?
-Is she a junior or a senior? I would be more willing to risk poor grades senior year. Junior year grades are widely considered to be the peak of performance.
-She can always start in the AP classe and then drop down if it feels like it's too much.
Sorry - it's the teacher in me. I have seen so much good come from kids taking AP classes. Good luck!

Marilyn said...

I agree with dillon6 and also ganelle. I like the idea of checking with BYU and also asking other previous students, great suggestions from a teacher! My hubby is a BYU graduate and kinda wanted his kids to go-but in my opinion the Y has become so much more elitist these days....so expensive and tough to get in to. Amongst my brood I have 2 ASU grads and 2 more on the verge of graduating-they have had good experiences-met wonderful future spouses-attended institute, etc.

But in the end-you are the momma and she and you (is that grammar correct??) are the ones entitled to the inspiration for your particular situation--good luck--sometimes I think "raising" Young Adults is harder than teenagers!

Buddy said...

When I took that same AP course four years ago, I came out with a C both semesters (and back then it wasn't weighted). I remember my teacher was both strict and fair; only two kids walked out with A's, another two with B's. It was hard and both my GPA and stress-meter took a hit.

That being said, I would do it all over again. No doubt about it. It was easily the most valuable class I took in high school, and I didn't even take the AP exam. The information, the teacher, the general environment; they've all helped me in so many areas. To this day I still look over the notes from that class.

Take a look at the teacher: is he mean and unfair, or simply strict with his grades? I vote for letting her take it, but make sure the rest of her class load is as light as can be. If she can pull off A's in the rest of her classes with little-to-no effort, a C should not have a significant impact on her GPA (especially if it's weighted). Plus, if it's the teacher I remember, the memories from that class will be well worth it :)

Nancy Face said...

I'm on the side of Academic Poison. My older kids took lots of honors and AP classes, and most of them were wonderful, but the occasional teacher that was too strict or stingy on grades caused way more stress than they needed to deal with at that time in their lives. If a teacher said to expect no better than a C grade, I would definitely believe that teacher!

kristen said...

One more thought. Consider applying to summer school. That's what I did, because even with a high GPA I was a little worried and didn't want to take any chances. I got into summer school with no problems; and I LOVED it. I know a lot of people are saying that spending your entire Bachelor degree experience at BYU is overrated; I don't really think so. I really liked BYU. Having done post Bachelor's and graduate work at another school has made me appreciate the 'Y' even more. But hey, if she's meant to go then she will; if she's meant to get an Associate's somewhere, then transfer--then she will.

Jimmy said...

Having the experiences I have had, and kinda knowing what I know about things lately, that GPA can't afford that hit. I think that your daughter's intelligence and desire for learning are both obvious, but she can expand her mind better at BYU once she is through the door.

I admire her thought process, but if she things that there is a chance she won't excel, she might want to reconsider.

Of course, I'd hire anyone who thought like that :)

Lauren said...

I was in AP all through high school, and even though it was extremely difficult...it was so worth it. I learned so much in those classes. Pretty much I learned everything they are trying to teach in college. I sit there bored.