If you’re a brilliant kid planning to attend college, you’re undoubtedly looking at all of your high school options if your core subjects aren’t demanding enough. Perhaps it’s time to look at taking some college prep or honors classes.
Here you’ll find more in-depth coursework and projects, as well as more difficult reading and writing assignments, and you’ll be able to generate more outstanding transcripts for college applications.
In this post, you will learn more about college prep classes, including their types, benefits, and other information.
What are college prep classes?
College Prep programs are upper-division courses that prepare you for the type of workload you’ll encounter in college. Honors, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate classes are examples, while North Carolina’s Career and College Promise programs provide unique opportunities.
Wherever possible, enroll in classes that will challenge you. Certain classes are more difficult to get an A in, but they can help you prepare for college, and certain grades are weighted so that they count for more when calculating your GPA.
Understanding college preparatory courses
Because it has multiple meanings, this phrase can be somewhat perplexing! It’s important to understand the distinctions as they pertain to different schools, but here’s a quick rundown of what CP can involve in all of its forms:
College prep courses, often known as CP courses, are classes given at various high schools that help you prepare for your future academic career as a college student. These could include CP programs that teach you how to manage your college applications, financial aid, and loans, as well as what to expect from your college experience.
College advisers frequently teach these types of CP programs in high school, and they will then aid you with choosing, selecting, and applying to your favorite universities and institutions. Your college counselor will show you how to write a good CV and how to make yourself stand out.
College prep classes at other schools can entail a more rigorous workload and classes that demand more of you as a student. An AP class, which stands for Advanced Placement, is not the same as a College prep class. AP classes are college-level courses that might earn you college credit; as a result, they are taught at the college level and can be challenging.
Every school does not provide AP courses. College prep classes differ from other classes in that they do not offer college credit and are not regulated by the College Board.
Sometimes the term “college prep” refers to a certain type of school, which might be public or private. College preparatory schools provide a more challenging curriculum that prepares students for the demands of a bachelor’s degree. These schools provide more challenging coursework and course themes, as well as more reading and writing assignments and a wider selection of classes.
The curriculum of a college prep school follows the national standards in math, science, history, and English, but at a higher level of instruction.
Types of College Prep Classes
Honors classes are a more difficult version of a subject taught in high school. Students in the top tier of their class are frequently offered honors classes, which are designed for high-achieving students and require critical thinking and in-depth research.
Occasionally, these grades are weighted to reflect their higher difficulty. These classes are demanding for most students, but they are good preparation for the college programs they will be taking in the coming years.
Advanced Placement Program
AP classes are similar to Honors in terms of intensity and pace—sometimes a little more difficult—but they also allow you to earn college credit. You enroll in the class and obtain a (weighted) grade on your high school transcript.
Then, at the end of the year, you take the AP exam and obtain a score between 1 and 5 on a scale of 1 to 5. If you do well enough on the exam, you can get college credit for that course (typically a 3 or better, although it varies on the college).
AP courses look great on a transcript and can help you save time and money in college by allowing you to bypass some of the coursework you’d otherwise have to take.
International Baccalaureate (IB)
Like AP and Honors, the IB curriculum offers advanced instruction to students, but the focus is on creative critical thinking about broader topics and global issues. Like AP, you can earn college credit by performing well on end-of-term tests, but you can also get an IB diploma by completing all of the needed courses.
Earning the credential or merely completing IB coursework can help you stand out in college, and IB is particularly useful for individuals interested in subjects with an international component, such as political science or business.
Other College Preparation Courses
Other coursework you’ll need to take to get into college will vary depending on your major and where you wish to attend. You should study biology, anatomy and physiology, and other science-track courses if you want to be prepared for a pre-med school, for example. Regardless of degree, many colleges require two years of foreign language education.
Some schools place a premium on computer abilities, while others place a premium on a well-rounded curriculum that incorporates both the arts and sciences.
Examine the course requirements for the programs you’re considering, and be sure you’re enrolling in classes that will prepare you for college. A conversation with your counselor might also help you decide what to take.
What Is the Difference Between an IB and an AP?
Although both programs provide demanding courses for high school students, they do it in very different ways.
Advanced Placement is by far the most popular curriculum. In 2019, 2.8 million students took AP exams.
In May of this year, almost 166,000 students took IB exams. The Diploma had a pass rate of 77.81 percent. Because the IB curriculum is more distinctive and can help students stand out in the admissions process, some families prefer it to the AP program.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) was created as a graduation curriculum (however, as previously discussed, a few IB classes can be taken for college credit). Meanwhile, rather of a diploma, the AP program was designed to focus on advanced study. (However, the AP has created a competitor to the IB, the AP International Diploma, which you can learn more about here.)
Curriculum for the classroom
IB curricula are more demanding for teachers. The IB requires your teacher to mark certain required assignments, such as oral presentations, as part of the internal evaluation. AP teachers, on the other hand, have more flexibility in how they teach an AP course as long as they are effectively preparing students for the exam.
Higher Level IB courses are usually believed to be more difficult than AP courses, whilst Standard Level IB courses are thought to be on par with or easier than AP courses. Keep in mind that the level of difficulty in a class at your school will vary depending on the teacher and the curriculum.
IB exams have a greater emphasis on writing and applying ideas, whereas AP exams place a greater emphasis on demonstrating your knowledge.
As a result, AP examinations contain more multiple-choice questions, whereas IB exams contain more short-answer questions, essays, and case studies.
IB examinations are more expensive than AP tests, costing $119 each exam. The cost of AP examinations is $94, which is slightly less than the cost of regular exams. Keep in mind that these prices are a fraction of the cost of college for the same classes!
Credit for College
Because more US universities are aware with AP credit, and the College Board formally establishes a passing grade (3 out of 5), whereas the IB does not, obtaining AP credit may be easier.
Furthermore, institutions may find it easier to define credit criteria for AP tests because AP courses only have one difficulty level. Colleges must decide how they will manage IB courses at the Standard and Higher Levels.
However, the higher your passing score on an IB or AP exam, the more likely you are to obtain college credit. An AP test score of 5, for example, almost always merits credit, as does an IB score of 7. Keep this in mind when you’re studying!
What Is the Difference Between Honors and AP Classes?
Understanding the difference between AP and honors classes can potentially save you time and money in college. Continue reading to learn more about the differences between these two sorts of seminars.
Possibility of Earning College Credit
Both AP and honors programs can improve the competitiveness of your college application, but AP tests offer an additional benefit: the possibility to earn college credit. Passing an AP exam with a 3 or better score can earn you college credit in a variety of majors at a range of universities.
Honors classes are more difficult than AP classes. If you are taking AP topics, you should be able to balance challenging coursework with studying for AP tests.
Curriculum and Duration
Honors classes typically follow a teacher-designed curriculum for the duration of the semester. These classes usually cover more material than regular classes and provide a more in-depth look at a variety of topics.
AP courses, on the other hand, are taught over the course of 1-2 semesters and follow the College Board curriculum. Every year, AP exams are held in May or June, which means you’ll need to keep up good study practices to ensure you remember older material on exam day.
Level of Difficulty
Honors and AP classes can be challenging for students as well. Honors classes require more effort than regular classes, while AP courses may be much more challenging. Honors classes provide advanced high school subject, whereas AP programs are aimed to duplicate college-level material.
In both honors and AP classes, the difficulty level varies by subject. The most challenging AP courses and tests are AP Physics 1, AP World History, and AP English Literature.
Availability of Classes
Because honors classes are often offered at every grade level in high school, they may be more accessible than AP classes.
Students in grades 10-12 are frequently enrolled in AP courses that provide only one degree of difficulty. This can make them more difficult to come by, particularly for year-long courses.
Keep in mind that you do not have to take an AP class to take an AP exam; you can study the material on your own if you feel capable, though many students find this difficult.
Many high schools offer honors and AP programs that are more rigorously weighted than regular classes. Honors courses typically contribute 0.5 points to your GPA, whereas AP topics often add 1. In other words, in honors classes, a 3.5 GPA would be boosted to 4.0, and in AP classes, it would be raised to 4.5.
This boost is especially useful if you want to push yourself harder without endangering your grades. Your GPA will not improve if you choose to take an AP exam without taking the AP class.
How Do I Enroll in Honors Classes?
You might be asking how to get started if you know you want to take honors subjects in high school. The answer will differ depending on the school, but in most cases, you should consult with your student adviser or guidance counselor first.
Explain that you wish to attend an honors course and would like to know what the admissions standards are. In some cases, you may be needed to complete a project or enroll in a standard-level class as a prerequisite.
For example, you may need to complete a certain English assignment or score an 85 percent to be considered for the honors version of the class. Why? First and foremost, your school needs to know that you are capable of handling the additional coursework.
To enroll in an honors course, you will most likely require a particular GPA, as well as a recommendation from a certified instructor.
The Advantages of College Prep Classes
College courses can be extremely scary for first-year students. Longer essays, the introduction of new concepts, and general management and multitasking difficulties are all present.
This is maybe the most important reason for the need of college preparedness. Prep schools have state-of-the-art resources, facilities, and faculty. They can also increase the number of college-level, AP, and honors courses available.
Preparatory schools urge students to take ownership of their work. They will be encouraged to develop important time management skills as well as how to balance academics, the arts, athletics, and social activities. Prep students are also encouraged to join or start campus organizations or groups based on their interests, talents, or hobbies.
Intimate Learning Environments:
Despite strict academic requirements and challenging course conditions, preparatory schools are reputed to be incredibly supportive.
Small student-to-teacher ratios are found at the best college prep institutions, which encourage extracurricular activities, assist students in forming close relationships with instructors, and ensure that tough students are observed and given personalized attention.
Because of the scale of public schools, this type of continual mentoring and familiarity is sometimes impossible to provide.
Is it worthwhile to take college prep classes?
While you may not be paying for this type of program, your child will be spending a lot of time learning and studying, so it’s only fair to ask about its effectiveness. Astonishing results have come out of several studies. For example, students in this program surpassed their peers in regular educational institutions in terms of achievement among the almost 5,000 students who graduated from a college prep school in 2010.
23.3 percent of high school graduates, according to research, are also seeking an associate degree. Furthermore, 77 percent of those surveyed continued their education after high school, with 52 percent enrolling in four-year institutions.
Furthermore, research reveals that the vast majority of kids enrolled in this type of program are the first in their families to graduate from high school.
College Preparation Courses and the Big Decision
You’ll have to make a difficult decision when it comes to arranging your high school curriculum. Should you stick to standard (or college prep) classes in order to raise your GPA, or should you push yourself and enroll in an Honors or AP course, where you’ll virtually surely do worse?
The key is to set reasonable goals for oneself. You should take the harder level class if you believe you can obtain a B or higher. Most colleges would rather see a B in an Honors or AP course than a string of A’s in a college prep program. Straight You look to be avoiding the difficulty of honors/AP, as with many college prep classes, and institutions dislike those who shun obstacles.
The idea is to demonstrate that you’re both pushing yourself and learning the material. “I’m just slightly reaching beyond my grasp,” a B grade indicates. Avoiding honors or AP classes where you would almost likely obtain a C or D, on the other hand, exhibits maturity and self-awareness, both of which institutions value. Taking an excessive number of honors and AP classes and obtaining mostly Cs and Ds shows that normal classes would have been a better fit.
So, what are your options? Our recommendation is to take 1-2 honors or AP classes in subjects in which you are most comfortable, have the most talents, or are most interested in pursuing further.
FAQs College Prep Classes in 2023
What is the purpose of a college prep class?
College prep courses, often known as CP courses, are classes that prepare you for your future academic career as a college student. They are offered in a variety of high schools. These can include CP programs that teach you how to manage your college applications, financial aid, and loans, as well as other topics like as what to expect from a college experience.
Is a college prep class beneficial?
The majority of colleges will inform you that an A in an Honors/AP class is preferable. You will be expected to do so by the majority of highly selective universities. Many institutions, on the other hand, would rather see a B in an Honors or AP course than a higher grade in a traditional college prep course.
What is the cost of a college prep class?
The average annual tuition for the 22,440 private K-12 schools in the United States is $12,350. A typical private high school tuition is $16,040 per year.
Is prep school superior to public school?
The most recent NAEP data backs up previous findings: private school students outperform public school pupils in practically every subject. On college entrance examinations like the SAT, students in private schools routinely outperformed their public school peers, according to NAIS.
Are college preparatory schools superior?
Prep school, in general, provides students with the best preparation curricula and opportunities for personal growth to help them transition to college. Preparatory school students are typically older and have better study skills. They are more disciplined in many ways. On the other hand, many public schools have competitive admissions.
Is a college prep class the same as a regular school?
A CP class may be more difficult than those offered in a traditional high school curriculum, but it is still centered on math, science, history, or English and does not award college credit. A college prep school’s classes are more demanding, with additional homework, projects, and assignments.
Enrolling in a college preparation course is a difficult task. In both high school and upper-level classes, you will be expected to work hard. It may be too much for some teenagers. Those that are willing to put in the long hours of study, on the other hand, will reap rewards that are well worth their time.