AP Credit Policy: Seniors graduating early face challenges
While the College used to allow Advanced Placement (AP) credits to count toward a student’s credits for graduation, this is no longer the case due to changes in policy in recent years.
The graduating class of 2012 is the last class to operate under the College’s old policy, with new rules applying to students in the class of 2013 and beyond. Still, even under the old policy, students in the class of 2012 and earlier who chose to graduate early could not count AP credits toward their graduation requirements, which prompted some current seniors on the Hill to make other plans to fulfill their credits in time for January graduation.
Under the old policy, which applied to students who entered the College before Fall 2009, AP credits did count toward the 128 credits required for graduation, and up to 32 AP credits could replace two full-time semesters. However, the College still required eight full-time semesters, at least four of which had to be spent in residence.
The more recent policy does not include AP credits in the 128 required for graduation, though they may still place students out of entry-level classes or fulfill distribution requirements, such as English 115. The total number of full-time semesters required also changed from eight to seven under the newer policy, with still at least four semesters spent in residence.
The full faculty approved the new policy, which the Academic Affairs Committee proposed, on Dec. 5, 2007. According to College Registrar Beth Schiller, the proposal stated that “students in the classes of 2008-2012 may chose to graduate after seven full-time semesters, but in that case may not elect to apply AP credits…toward those seven.”
Many institutions are shifting away from allowing AP credits to count toward graduation because, even with students taking AP classes in high school becoming more common, their level of preparation upon arriving at college is dwindling. Quoted in Mary Beth Marklein’s article in USA Today on Mar. 20, 2006, Edith Waldstein, vice president for enrollment management at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, said “[Advanced Placement] just doesn’t mean as much as it used to.”
Katherine Smith ’12 commented, “I understand that many colleges have similar policies now because of concerns that AP courses are not rigorous enough.” Smith struggled with the College’s AP policies in her plans to graduate a semester early. She will be graduating this December, after only seven semesters, but none of her AP credits from high school counted except to exempt her from some distribution requirements, in accordance with the new policy. “It took more effort than it would have if my AP credits applied, but [it was possible] due to [taking] three-credit JanPlans every year, a summer course and a semester taking five courses,” Smith said.
Regarding her experience working with the College administration to graduate early, she said that they were “incredibly helpful with the whole process, but never gave a satisfying answer for why AP credits do not count.”