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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Would limiting AP’s hurt students’ college chances?

The Falcon posed the following question to several college admissions officers and counselors: If a school limits the number of APs taken by students, can the student be handicapped in college admissions?
Joann Schaper, an adviser working for a college counseling service called College Bound, said that in terms of competitiveness for college admissions, there is no substitute for success in rigorous courses.
According to Schaper, administrators who choose to limit AP options or set a maximum number should consider the impact their decision will have on students’ college opportunities.  
“At conferences I often hear the question ‘Is it better to get an A in a regular class or a B in an AP course?’” Schaper said. “The answer is always the same. ‘It is better to get an A in an AP course.’”
Students who are limited in APs will be forced to take a less academically demanding curriculum, which might hurt their ability to compete for college admissions and in college.
Schaper recommends that incoming freshmen who do not have access to AP classes take the most challenging courses they can. They can also supplement those with additional coursework from other sources like community college classes and online courses from Stanford, Cornell, the UC system and more. 
“For those students who truly enjoy and thrive on academic challenge, there are many amazing opportunities to supplement and explore their interests far beyond what may be offered in their own high school,” Schaper said.
According to Schaper, administrators need to consider that students can sometimes skip certain college classes after getting qualifying scores on the AP tests.
“[This] can also help [students] avoid taking five years or more to graduate — [or] graduate early — as well as [give them] more time to pursue their broad interests through minors and concentrations,” Schaper said. 
But, according to Peter Newcomb, a Brown University admissions officer, colleges recognize that often a student’s ability to take AP classes is out of his or her control.
“Sometimes [schools limit] APs [because] of the budget, or [a lack of] qualified teachers available, but [it is] nothing that could or should be held against students,” he said. “Other schools [limit] APs to [reduce] stress on students and [keep] homework loads from reaching an unreasonable level.”                                                                                                                   
Brown University wants students to “have balance between challenging academics, extracurricular activities, and still have time for sleep, family and friends,” Newcomb said. 
Kathy Phillips, associate director of Duke Undergraduate Admissions, said are considered “in the context of his or her school” and students who were limited in their AP courses will not be penalized as a result.
At the same time, Phillips stressed that successful applicants take a “strong roster of AP classes” in addition to extracurricular activities. She recommends students who are limited in their choice of APs take as many as they can.
“Students [can] petition the school to allow them to exceed the maximum based on special talent or interest, or study for AP exams on their own,” Phillips said. 
 
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