Homeschool Questions and Answers: What to Do About AP Classes

Question: All of my friends who have public school kids are talking about their kids taking all AP Classes from as early as grade 10. Is this something my homeschooled child should be doing? If so, how do I find AP classes for them?

Answer: Twenty plus years ago when I was in high school, if you took 2 AP classes in high school, you were exceptional. Now some high schools, to prove they are elite, push students to take 3 or 4 AP Classes a year. For kids who can excel at a college level from a young age, this is an excellent way to earn college credits and shine on college applications. For other students who are more average or even above average, I have seen being saddled with too many college level classes too early have disastrous results.

I have seen above average students placed in too many AP classes too soon and end up falling behind in high school due to multiple failures. For this reason, I don’t think that high school should be used as a contest to see who can rack up the most AP classes and gain college credit to make the high school look good. Instead, the time should be used to prepare the kids for college level and AP classes should be used to move them ahead if they progress quickly.

In my opinion, students should be working at their level which may be different in each and every subject. This means that they certainly should take AP classes, as early as grade 10, if they are ready, and only in the subjects where they are likely to excel. This may mean that a child studies history and language arts at a regular college prep level, and tackle AP Classes for math and science, or vice-versa.

My recommendation is for 10th graders to take only 1 AP exam in their favorite subject area. In the 11th grade, you can add a second AP exam to their schedule, and in the 12 grade, they can take two to four AP Classes if they feel they can handle the workload. This would give them five to seven classes worth of college credit providing they pass the AP exams. Colleges will be more than happy with this number.

If AP classes are not ideal for your child, don’t worry about it. A homeschooler does not have to compete using the same methodology as public school students. If they can and desire to, that is fine, but as homeschoolers, they have many, many options and opportunities to shine. AP is not the only way to get into college.

As for finding opportunities for taking AP classes, if you network with other homeschoolers in your area, you should be able to find Co-op classes your child can take. Even if this is not available, you can use which offers AP curriculum online that your child can study and then follow up with AP Exams taken at the local high school.

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