When college admissions professionals get together, there is somewhat of an inside joke that comes along with every conversation: Should a student take AP classes or dual credit classes? It depends. How much does the essay matter? It depends. Should a student get A’s in easier classes or B’s in AP classes? It depends. Can I negotiate financial aid offers? It depends.
No matter the topic and no matter the audience, the answer is the same. I have even heard people chuckle a little and say, “I know. It depends,” as soon as they ask the question, but still hoping to get some insight into whatever it is. One of the conferences I attend each year is NACAC’s National Conference, where lately over 7,000 school counselors, college admission counselors and other professionals meet to learn what matters in college admissions. NACAC is the National Association for College Admission Counseling and is considered the trusted source in college admissions. Even there, with hundreds of presentations on a host of topics, I still hear “It depends.”
Is college admissions truly that complicated? In some ways - yes, and in some ways - no. Let’s take AP versus dual credit, for example. The AP school of thought is that Advanced Placement is considered a more consistent, stronger curriculum that better prepares students for college success. At the end of an AP class, a student will take an exam that usually results in college credit for a passing score, but may not depending on the school. Dual credit is a more practical choice where students take a college class directly from the institution at a greatly reduced cost and are awarded college credit after passing the exam. An AP exam is about $95. A dual credit class is about $160 (not per credit hour. The whole class!). What should a student choose? You guessed it! It depends. On one hand, many colleges will consider AP stronger, but not all schools use strength of schedule for admission or scholarship. So yet again, it depends. Digging deeper, AP Psychology had a 2017 pass rate (a 3, 4, or 5 on a 5 point scale) of 64.2%. I’m not sure the exact national dual credit statistics, but the pass rate for PSY 100 is probably 90% or higher. I realize I’m going on and on here, but this is a common discussion in high school. And that’s just one discussion. No matter what your question, I can guarantee one thing: It Depends.
Does it all have to be this complicated? Not really, actually. This is why I do what I do. This is why I would like to meet with you and your middle school age student. This is why I spend so much time attending professional development across the country. I would love to meet with you to answer your questions and help your middle schooler prepared for high school. You can link here for more information about my meetings.