Getting a Head Start on College: Do Honors and AP Classes Help?



For many high school students, getting as prepared as possible for college is a main priority. One way these eager JB students choose to stay ahead of the game is by taking Advanced Placement (AP) and Honors classes, as well as Penn State classes offered here.  


At James Buchanan they offer a wide variety of honors and Advanced Placement Courses including: AP Literature and Composition, AP Language and Composition, AP World History, AP Biology, AP Statistics, AP Calculus, AP Government,,  AP Chemistry, Honors Economics, Honors Anatomy, Honors Chemistry, Honors Science 9 and Honors Geometry.


The AP classes are taught in the same format as a college course, but rather than receiving college credits on your classroom grades, students have to take an Advanced Placement test to determine if they can receive college credit for the course.


The type of college credit one receives is all based on the test score. The test is out of five points and while a perfect five might get a student a full college credit for the course, most colleges accept at least a three to go towards your degree, even if it counts as an elective credit.  


In addition to getting a head start with advanced high school courses students also have the option to apply for an early-to-college program offered by Penn State Mont Alto. The courses consist of two classes per semester, and are taught in the morning prior to the school day from 7:15 to 8:45 on Mondays and Wednesdays.


The classes offer not only tuition reductions and technology fee coverage but allows the students to take courses dually with the highschool and also receive college credits for the class.


These classes place students in a real life example of college, consisting of not only one weekly in-person meeting, but an online aspect as well.


“The college classes (Penn State) prepare you for college by exposing you to a more rigorous curriculum than what you regularly experience in normal high school classes,“  said Isaac Miller (12), who participated in the early to college program this year.


Students see the positive side to getting a jump start to college, as well as the teachers.


“I think taking an AP class puts the student at a higher standard of learning,” said AP Language and Composition teacher Mrs. Jenna Sheaffer (Faculty).  “ You’re in charge of your learning and it [AP/ Honors classes] teaches you responsibility and organization that will help you with college-level courses in the future.”


No matter what your plans are after graduation, whether attending a four year college, two year college, or trade school, preparing for your future is a key focal point. AP classes help prepare you not only for future learning opportunities but gives you organizational skills that can be carried on to your future endeavors. High school is all about getting ready to go into the adult world. Like all things choosing a course that best fits you and your plans will be the key to success.