AP Chem vs. Dual Enrollment Chem

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Voyager20, Jun 19, 2015.

  1. Voyager20

    Voyager20 Member

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    Inspired by a similar current thread.

    Would USNA care if DS as a Senior takes a General Chemistry for engineers course at a community college instead of AP Chem? AP Chem is 90 minutes every day for the entire year; whereas, the General Chemistry is a typical college course that is scheduled 3x per week plus 1 lab per week and is over in 1 semester. DS has taken 5 science courses thus far at the HS which includes 2 levels of physics (AP and honors) and honors chemistry. There are no additional AP Physics courses offered at the HS.

    Lastly, AP Chem teacher is a good person and is funny, but not a good instructor. The thought of taking this course every day with this teacher is something son wishes to avoid. Son took honors chemistry with the teacher and did get an A, but felt he learned a considerable amount on his own via a college textbook and Khan Academy.

    Thank you in advance for your thoughts.
     
  2. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    AP chemistry is high-school chemistry, but college chem is...well, college chem. Here are the possible consequences as I think about them.

    Whether your DS takes chem at the HS or college level, he will still have to validate one or both semesters of plebe chem at USNA because USNA does not accept transfer credit. On this metric, even split: both will prepare him well to validate a semester, although not guaranteed of course.

    Does your son's HS AP chem offer a wet lab? (Some do not, and fulfill AP requirements with virtual labs.) If AP chem does not include a wet lab, nod to the college chem in terms of preparation for USNA.

    Although one of the BGOs should certainly chime in as well, as long as DS earns a good grade either course, AP chem or college chem, it strengthens his application. (In other words, I do not see how one would be favored over the other.) Remember, the admissions board is not going to have the capability to look at his app and say, "Oh, that Bill Jones might've got an A in AP chem and a 4 on his exam, but I know for a fact he could've taken it at Podunk CC down the road. No soup for Bill!"

    If for some reason he does not get into USNA, however, then the nod goes to the CC which will grant transferable college credit. While a good score on the AP exam may also result in credit, it often depends on a score of 4 or 5, which is not guaranteed.

    Next, though, is the obvious point. USNA seeks evidence that HS students can do well in demanding, STEM-heavy curricula. AP chemistry is like college, but it is not college. Typically, AP courses (at least in STEM, where I work) use college texts, but they're still paced slower than college courses. College chemistry, even community college chemistry, is college. No evidence persuades like the real deal.

    Finally, you mention something I think you and your DS should really factor into the decision-making: teaching quality. You have one known, and it sounds fair to middling, and an unknown (CC instructor). As a general rule, CC science instructors tend to be very good - no one takes a heavy teaching load, and sticks with it, unless teaching matters to them.

    Edge to the CC, then.
     
  3. Voyager20

    Voyager20 Member

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    Thank you for your thoughtful response.

    Yes, there would be actual labs at the HS. You mention many good points of which we are in agreement on. I seem to recall from a couple of years back that I thought USNA is not a fan of CC and thought only courses taken at 4 yr colleges would be a better substitute. I had tried the search tool, but cannot seem to locate the information.

    Son realizes there are no transfer credit at USNA, but it also does not take AP Chem scores as a validation; thus, he didn't feel it would be a loss as long as the information is gained. For the public universities (plan B and C) they would take the transfer credit and he would not have to take the AP exam in the end. He has taken many APs, but for this last science he thought this different route might offer a better approach both with time and educational learning.
     
  4. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    Most dual enrollment for kids in high school are from CC. Don't think that will be an issue. Yes USNA recommends attending a 4 year as a re applicant. AP scores typcially haven't even been taken yet senior year when an admissions decision is made, so don't worry about that part. Honestly, go with whatever class your DS thinks he will learn the most in and do the best in.
     
  5. ca2midwestmom

    ca2midwestmom Member

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    In our case $$ was a factor -- each AP test was $87 vs each dual enrollment class was $420. My DS took 7 AP classes/tests and 2 dual enrollment classes. Like your DS he didn't want to have the teachers that taught AP Chem/Physics at his high school, so he took them through the community college/dual enrollment program. And in my DS's case, he knew his Plan B would accept the AP scores and dual enrollment credit.
     
  6. dakine

    dakine Member

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    There is a lot of good advice here and I think either community college or high school AP route would work out. My vote would be for AP for the following reasons: USNA requires mid year grades, getting an "A" in a community college class can be significantly harder than at high school. There are many smart, mature and highly motivated students at the community college. Lastly, I am not convinced that admissions departments reward students taking community college classes. My guess is that admissions departments have developed computer applications or spreadsheets to rank students - and they just don't know how to plug in community college classes versus standardized AP courses.
     
  7. balloonattack911

    balloonattack911 Member

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    College chemistry is hard, and it may make it harder to get a good 1st semester GPA. That is a valid point, but if you son can quickly adapt to the college course load, I don't see why he wouldn't be able to get a good grade.

    Something to think about is that because he will be taking the course in the fall, it would be a little harder to retain the info for the plebe summer validation exam, assuming he gets into USNA. However, with a little review the week before plebe summer, he has a good chance at passing the validation test. Regardless, a community college chem course would most likely better prepare him for whatever chem class he gets placed in.

    For plans B-Z, taking a college chem course while in high school is a great deal no matter how you look at it. And plans B-Z aren't always bad, just different.
     
  8. CSGuy

    CSGuy Class of 2016

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    If it helps at all, I was a dual-enrolled homeschool/CC student for my junior and senior years of high school. I found that the college classes offered exceptionally better lab experiences than the high school, and the study techniques that I learned prepared me very, very well for A's in both plebe chemistry classes despite never taking an AP class.

    In a CC chemistry class, the instructor lectures for 45 minutes and expects you to take notes, read the text on your own time, and do practice problems--he/she doesn't hold your hand. Your grade is simple: quizzes, two tests, and a final. This was perfect preparation for USNA.

    In my opinion, AP courses--far from being college work--are just high school classes with a ridiculous amount of busy work. My friends always complained about silly projects that they had to do, most of which boiled down to artwork and videography rather than actual academic study. They learned in 8 months what I learned in 4.

    -c/o 2016
     

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