For some people, Advanced Placement credits seem to
have become a kind of currency in college admissions.
The thinking seems to be that it takes so many AP
credits to win serious consideration at competitive
colleges and universities.
But in reality, admissions officers take a much more
nuanced view of AP credit. Not having AP courses on your
transcript won't necessarily keep you out of selective
schools – and having a string of AP courses won't
necessarily get you in.
When a college admissions committee looks at your high
school transcript, they aren't looking to see how many
AP courses you took. Rather, they're looking for signs
that you're intellectually curious and seek out academic
challenges. That can mean taking appropriate AP courses,
but it doesn't have to. It certainly doesn't mean
automatically signing up for every AP class you can
squeeze into your schedule, or giving up other
activities you love to make time for another AP class.
Admissions officers understand that not everyone goes to
a school that offers an AP (or similar) options. They
also understand that a student might have perfectly good
reasons for choosing to forego a particular AP course.
Again, what they're looking for is evidence that you've
sought out academic and intellectual challenges. Someone
who excelled in college prep courses at a school that is
too small to support an AP program could meet that
criteria, despite not having AP credit.
That said, however, AP programs have become so common
that for many college-bound students the question is not
whether or not to take AP classes but rather where to
draw the line. How many AP classes constitute a
reasonable workload? Which AP classes are the best ones
The answers to those questions will vary from one
applicant to another, depending on their situation and
profile. The important thing is to remember that college
admissions committees will be looking for evidence of
intellectual ability and curiosity, not just for a
certain number of AP credits. If you had the opportunity
to take AP courses but chose not to, it may not be a bad
idea to explain why you made that choice somewhere in
your application. But you don't need to feel that your
admissions chances are automatically doomed because you
don't have a particular AP class on your transcripts.
Back to College Features