High school students seek AP course credits to fulfill college credits, and taking community college classes is another option. (Image courtesy of High School Insider)
Gabrielino High School

Opinion: Community college courses are more beneficial than AP classes

As college approaches, many students are looking for ways to get ahead. Options such as dual enrollment and Advanced Placement classes are primary mediums for gaining college credit while still in high school. However, it is evident that taking community college courses is more beneficial for students than enrolling in AP classes.

Other than impressing colleges with rigorous courses, the primary reason for taking an AP class is to earn college credit while still enrolled in high school. Paying test fees is preferable to paying for classes at a university since the cost is much lower. However, many colleges, including Pasadena Community College and East Los Angeles College, offer free classes for high school students.

“The cost is a fraction of the cost students would pay as a traditional college student,” said Jessie Block, journalist for the St. Louis-Post Dispatch.

Furthermore, many universities may not even accept AP credit.

According to Kelli Grant at CNBC, “Three-quarters of all colleges limit which AP subject areas they accept credit for… Some will only accept a score of four, or a score of five.”

Obtaining a passing score on an AP exam is a challenge on its own. Passing the AP course does not guarantee one will pass the exam. The College Board’s 2019 score distributions revealed that 20 to 50% of all students who took an AP test did not receive a passing score.

In a Washington Post article titled “AP program isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” Valeria Strauss wrote, “it is rare that students pass enough AP exams to skip an entire semester or full year ahead, thus allowing them to graduate in three or three and a half years.”

“The AP program isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” Valeria Strauss, writer for The Washington Post said. “It’s rare that students pass enough AP exams to skip an entire semester or full-year ahead.”

Earning eligible credits is also based on the performance in the class rather than on a single test.

Mimi Wan, Gabrielino High School graduate from the class of 2019, took PCC courses throughout her years in high school, which ultimately saved her two full years at a university. Wan earned an associate degree before she received her high school diploma and will be graduating from the University of California, Irvine, in 2021.

Although enrollment in a community college class is less traditional than taking AP classes, their affordability and credit system allows for students to take more away from their experiences.