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Advanced Placement not for everyone

Ed's note: The original article of opinion below first appeared in the White County Newspaper, written by White County High School senior, Sydney Chacon. She compares and contrasts the Advanced Placement Program with Dual Enrollment, the latter being equivalent to the state of Georgia's ACCEL Program for institutions of higher learning, which is utilized by Truett-McConnell College.

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Tribe Vibe with Sydney Chacon

Thoughts on Advanced Placement classes vs. Dual Enrollment

In 2010, only one AP class was offered; now there are 9 AP classes given. In the last couple of years, we have been given many more opportunities, but has it really helped us?

When there was only one AP class to take, many students dual enrolled – when you take a class at a college such as Truett and if you pass, you receive college credit as well as high school credit. All you have to do is pass the class and you receive credit; whereas with AP courses you have to take an AP exam at the end of the year and hope you make a good enough score to receive college credit.

At the end of my sophomore year, AP classes were really pushed. I remember sitting at the meetings and hearing everything great about AP but close to nothing about Dual Enrollment. They made it sound like AP was the much better choice even though many students before us did just fine with regular classes and Dual Enrollment.

I took AP English as a junior last year. I loved the class, my teacher and even a couple of the writing assignments. However, I wish I hadn't gotten sucked into the AP whirlwind, and that I had just stuck with my plan to Dual Enroll. I signed up for it because we were told AP would look good for college and because of the pressure to do what others were doing. I knew the administration would prefer students to take AP classes, so I joined the herd that was being led to AP.

It wasn't a bad class at all; the workload was somewhat tough, but that was nothing out of the ordinary. I now know how to write in different writing styles, and my essays have more content than fluff, but I still have to take English 101 at college.

My goal at the beginning of the year last year was to make a high enough score on the AP exam so that I could receive college credit, but I ended up only making a 3 out of a 5, 5 being the highest. The thing about English is that you write the way your teacher or professor likes, and you make a good grade in that class.

But since we developed our style to match the requirements and our teacher's wishes, we did well in our AP class, but not so good on our exam. What our teacher may think is great, like when she scored my practice AP exam as a 4, the judges might have thought was average. 3's are accepted at some colleges, but since I don't know where I want to go, it would be risky not to take English 101.

That's my biggest regret; spending a whole year preparing for a test and missing the mark. If I had stayed with my plans, I could have spent a semester on English and gotten the college and high school credit.

Instead, now I'm dual enrolling at Truett for English 101 for material that I could have skipped had I made a better score on my exam, or had I known what college I planned on going to.

Erin Sellari, a fellow senior and former AP student, says, "Dual Enrollment is better; it promises credit if you pass the class. AP does not."

AP is good for someone who wants to grow in the subject of their choice, and Dual Enrollment is good for someone who wants to knock their core classes out of the way.

Another senior and former AP student, Casey Chastain, said, "AP helped me learn to write, but if I had to go back, I wouldn't have taken AP; I would rather get the credit for the course."

I wouldn't say we wasted the year because, like Casey said, we did learn to write better, and we had fun in that class. But I think many of us wish we had stuck to the old ways.

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