Advanced Placement courses are undeniably demanding. Since they are designed to mimic introductory college-level courses, AP classes tend to build on previous knowledge, are fast-paced and require several hours of homework per week.
While there are many reasons to take an AP course — to challenge yourself, earn college credit, explore an area of interest — following through and enrolling is not always the right decision.
From time to time, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed by an AP class and therefore wanting to withdraw from it. But before you make this important decision, consider these three factors:
— Whether you can enroll in a comparable, more suitable course.
— Whether the root of the problem is fixable.
— Whether dropping will affect your college applications.
Whether You Can Enroll in a Comparable, More Suitable Course
Your first to-do item if you are considering dropping an AP class is to ensure there is a comparable lower-level course available to you. Not all high schools can afford to offer an AP, honors and regular-track version of the same class — or even one with similar content. Factors like the school’s budget and student demand play into course availability.
Schedule a visit with your guidance counselor to find out what options you have. Your guidance counselor can also clue you in on information relevant to your academic profile, such as whether dropping an AP course will affect your class standing. This may happen, for instance, with seniors whose ability to fulfill a science, math or other type of requirement would be jeopardized if they dropped an AP course without replacing it with a comparable option.
Whether the Root of the Problem Is Fixable
Reflect on what has led you to weigh dropping an AP class. Earning low grades and falling behind on homework, for instance, are not causes — they are the effects of a deeper issue. To figure out the root cause of your situation, keep asking yourself “Why?” until you reach a final answer.
This introspection is necessary so that you can determine whether the problem is fixable or not. If you fell behind on homework because of poor time management skills, the problem is fixable. For example, you can manage your time better by following a strict predetermined schedule and setting alarms for yourself. In cases where the issue is fixable, consider making applicable changes instead of dropping your AP course.
On the other hand, if you fell behind on homework because you have other mandatory after-school commitments, the problem may be unfixable. Thus, dropping the AP class may be the best decision. If you are unsure about whether the problem is fixable or not, ask your AP instructor for his or her candid opinion.
Whether Dropping Will Affect Your College Applications
College admissions officers look at a host of factors when assessing whether to accept or deny an applicant. One of those factors is the courses you are enrolled in.
You can thus imagine how it might affect admissions officers to find out that you dropped one or more courses that had an influence on your admissions decision. It is always best to be honest by letting your prospective colleges know about changes in your schedule.
Another point to bear in mind is that admissions decisions are generally contingent upon your performance during your senior year. If a disastrous grade in an AP class is likely to negatively affect your GPA, dropping it may be wise. But do that only after weighing these three factors.
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