AP

Important Stats

AP might as well stand for “Almost Professional.” We’re talking college-level curricula that’s intended to cover information and develop skills students willactually encounter in college and university classes. It’s… pre-college. College Light. (Please do not drink College Light if under 21.)

Pros

  • AP courses will give you an idea of exactly how well you are prepared for college, since you will be covering a college-level amount of information. Rather than merely testing the waters with a single toe, you’re basically having someone jam your head underwater to see how long you can hold your breath.
  • These courses look amazing on your transcript. Blush, eyeliner and lipliner. They are often worth more than regular courses to reflect the additional challenge, which can boost your GPA. And, best of all, if you can score a minimum of a three (out of five - though a score of four or five is, of course, better) on the AP Exam, many colleges and universities can help you save time and money by accepting the credit you earn.
  • Like… as actual college course credit. Believe it or not (and it’s almost too good to believe), you are racking up college credit while still in high school. And you didn’t even have to waste one of the three wishes granted to you by that genie you found in an old bottle in the attic.

Cons

Apart from the fact that some schools don’t offer AP courses, which could limit your options… the cons are about the same as Honors courses. Make sure you can deal with the load so they won’t bog you down. If you are up for it, though, take as many AP’s as you can handle… without going certifiably insane.

Bet on AP Courses If: you are up for the challenge, your school offers the courses that match your interests and skills, and you like to save time and money. Or if you think it will help you get Jenny Hoover’s phone number (it won’t).


Honors Classes

Important Stats

  • Honors English. Honors Biology. Honors Calculus. What makes them Honors courses? Are they taught by judges?
  • The answer is actually… pretty simple. An Honors course takes a standard curriculum for a high school class and covers additional topics or delves deeper into the existing topics. It’s like getting an expansion pack for your brain. 
  • These courses are designed to challenge students who aren’t content to check a few boxes and move on, but who are willing to take on additional work and content in areas where they excel. “Overachievers,” you might call them. Except that,once they’re out in the real world, we call them simply, “Achievers.”

Pros

  • Honors courses look great on a transcript. Especially with a little blush and eyeliner.
  • Not only do they look great, but many schools will give Honors courses additional weight when calculating your GPA (finally, somewhere you want to gain weight), so if you do well, it can really boost your average (although be forewarned that some colleges remove this extra weighting when considering applications).
  • Honors courses also give you an amazing opportunity to show your interest and talent in subjects that you may take in college. If you want to one day be able to“love what you do”… you might as well start lovin’ it now.

Cons

Honors courses will be, well… harder. More… honor-y. There is more material to cover and more work. While all students, not just the top bananas, should consider honors classes, try to find a balance so you can build a solid transcript without getting overwhelmed by your coursework. You don’t want to put your brain on overload, have it crash and wind up in… Honors Psychotherapy.

Bet on Honors Courses If: There are subjects that interest you and match your skills, and you are willing to take on the additional content and work. And if three witches said you could become king by taking them. It’s worth a shot.


IB

Important Stats

  • The IB program is a high-school curriculum made up of courses from each of five categories: Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Society, Mathematics, and Sciences, and then take courses in the Arts or an additional course from the five core areas.
  • During the course of the program, students must take regular examinations, complete an extended essay (of 4,000 words), study what is called the Theory of Knowledge,and participate in service learning.

Pros

Big pro here if you are in a high school outside of the United States, as an IB diploma is considered by most colleges as a standard, rigorous curriculum. In fact, most colleges consider success in any IB program a good indicator that you will succeed in college, as the curriculum is designed to develop the critical-thinking skills needed to do well.

Cons

No floating allowed here. The curriculum is rigorous, and requires a great deal of student motivation and independence Assessments are graded by outside, IB evaluators, with points awarded for quality (so sucking up to your teacher won’t help.) You may also consider it a con that the IB program is not available in most high schools, although the number is growing.

Bet on IB if... The program is offered at your high school, and you are a motivated student up for the course load.