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Editorial: Dartmouth no longer accepting AP credits a bad move all around

By Editorial Board
On February 4, 2013

  • Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins sings to a sold-out house during Saturday night's show at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. UConn is one of the stops on their college tour to promote their newest album 'Ursa Major.'. LAURELIN MATULIS

The ability to earn college credit in high school has proven immensely advantageous to the millions of students who have taken an AP exam since the program's inception in 1955. The up-front cost of the exam is a tiny fraction of the equivalent cost per credit at almost all universities - at UConn, for instance, achieving the requisite score to earn a particular course's credit may eventually result in as much as $1500 in long-term savings. For certain advanced students who took several AP exams before attending college, the extensive pre-college coursework they have completed can amount to a semester's head start in terms of credits before even arriving on campus. All of these benefits, moreover, represent a substantial incentive for high-school students to take challenging courses and excel on their exams.
But the practice of transferring exam scores into college credit is not without its critics. Citing studies that showed that incoming freshmen who took introductory-level college course exams corresponding to subjects they did well in on their AP exams frequently failed to pass them, Dartmouth College declared last month that beginning in 2018 it will no longer recognize students' AP scores for credit. Dartmouth is now part of a broader tendency in academia which views the AP program as lacking rigor and as an inadequate substitute for undergraduate course work. While the high school may not contain teachers thoroughly well versed in their subject matter or present an environment to its students as conducive to learning, there is no clear consensus that AP courses are as useless as Dartmouth represents them to be. In fact, students who take AP exams in a subject tend to receive better grades in that subject than their peers.
However, Dartmouth's policy change seems to have little to do with academics and much more to do with money. Even though tuition at the Ivy League school is approximately $44,000 per annum, the college has now increased the financial hardships of future students by requiring them to retake the same classes that they performed well in during high school at a much higher cost. Dartmouth should have done what it could to improve the valuable AP program by demanding more stringent course requirements or more frequent course audits. Instead, their decision to close another avenue to a more affordable college education only hurts their students and makes Dartmouth a less attractive school for potential applicants and undergraduates. 

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