Advanced placement courses can provide students with tremendous educational opportunities and a jump on college admissions.
Not all schools, however, offer AP classes and even if your high school does, the options or scheduling may not meet your needs.
One alternative is taking AP classes online.
Who offers online AP classes, and how do they differ from classroom-based courses? What factors should you consider when trying to determine the best option for you?
Here are seven questions to keep in mind:
1. Who offers online advanced placement classes?
There are a number of organizations, schools and colleges that offer online AP classes, including the University of California’s Scout program. A simple Google search can uncover a number of online options for each AP subject area.
2. What is accreditation and why should you worry about it?
Not all online AP courses are accredited by the College Board. Accreditation means that the College Board has reviewed the class and approved it, allowing it to be listed as an AP course on your high school transcript. If you are interested in completing an AP class for college credit but your high school does not offer your preferred subject, work with your guidance counselor to locate and sign up for an accredited online course. You can also utilize this option if your high school’s available AP classes do not fit within your schedule.
3. How do online AP courses differ from in-person classes?
Online classes tend to be lecture- and reading-heavy (as opposed to hands-on), and interactions with the teacher are often over email or via chat. Not all online AP science courses have a lab component, though there are several that will send you supplies to do the occasional lab at home. If you are contemplating a class such as AP Biology or AP Chemistry, consider your learning style. Are you a kinesthetic or visual learner? Have you completed enough labs in other courses to feel comfortable with potentially foregoing a lab component in this class? If not, there might be alternatives, such as taking a college-level course at a local community college.
4. What is the workload like?
You should review the course requirements before you enroll in an online AP class. Online courses can vary greatly in their requirements and timing. Can you work at your own pace, or are there set session times? What are the major assignments? Will your schedule permit you to give this class your all?
5. Will the course prepare you for the AP exam?
If your goal when registering for an AP class is to prepare for the subject’s AP exam, you should read any available reviews and ensure that the course adequately equips you for the exam. Ask about the exam-passing rate for the class.
6. Can you afford it?
Price is another factor to consider. Some states offer free online AP classes to their residents, but there are also a number of affordable courses available. The price range for AP classes is quite large, so research is paramount.
7. Are the teacher reviews strong?
How accessible is the teacher for the course you are considering? Does the instructor answer questions in a timely manner? How useful is the feedback that he or she provides? In addition to reading reviews about the teacher, you may wish to consider your abilities and preferences. Are you a motivated, independent student, or will you benefit from the in-person attention of a “brick and mortar” teacher?