right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

if self-studying an AP helpful for college

worryingabtcollegeworryingabtcollege 11 replies11 postsRegistered User Junior Member
Hey guys I just want input on this:
I will be a sophomore in the fall and am taking the AP European History class; however, I was looking into self-studying AP Psychology too (and making it into an Independent Study on my transcript). Will doing this self-study course help in college or not?
22 replies
· Reply · Share
«1

Replies to: if self-studying an AP helpful for college

  • squ1rrelsqu1rrel 347 replies23 postsRegistered User Member
    Nope, especially because AP Psychology is one of the easiest APs...don't do it.
    · Reply · Share
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6471 replies51 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    No bonus points, sorry....
    · Reply · Share
  • skieuropeskieurope 38455 replies6720 postsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    Will doing this self-study course help in college or not?
    Will it help in terms of getting credit or placing out of the intro psych course? Maybe. It depends on the college. Will it help in admissions? OMG, no. Not in the least. AOs laugh at students who self study the absolute easiest AP in the history of the world.

    I'm slightly tongue in cheek on the last sentence, to be clear. :)
    · Reply · Share
  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 3845 replies83 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    A better alternative might be to take the Psychology class online at a community college.
    · Reply · Share
  • TheSATTeacherTheSATTeacher 236 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @worryingabtcollege
    Self-studying APs and getting good scores on the corresponding exams (e.g. a 5) can look good. It shows that you 1) are academically strong, 2) motivated, 3) able to work independently, and 4) intellectually curious. HOWEVER, AP psych is known as an easier AP and therefore will not seem very impressive. If you still are interested in the subject matter, go ahead--just don't expect it to help you much in admissions.
    · Reply · Share
  • worryingabtcollegeworryingabtcollege 11 replies11 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited July 18
    what if my school doesn't offer this AP class? my school is small. (this is the reason I am thinking of self-studying). will colleges know about that, and take it into consideration when seeing I self-studied? Thanks guys, I'm clueless.
    edited July 18
    · Reply · Share
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6609 replies39 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Colleges will get your school report along with your transcripts and see what courses are offered. You wont be penalized if your school doesn't offer this AP. And FWIW, AP Psych is not a required course for any school, it's an elective, and one of the easier AP courses.
    · Reply · Share
  • makemesmartmakemesmart 1390 replies13 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Psychology is a fun subject to learn. I guess you are trying to get bonus points for college admission, but I hope even if you found out there were hardly any, you would look for some good books on psychology and just read about them (such as “thinking, fast and slow”).
    · Reply · Share
  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 3845 replies83 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    My kid regretted taking the AP class in HS. A one-year class for a normal 1 semester, maybe even one quarter class in college.
    · Reply · Share
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6471 replies51 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Self-studying APs and getting good scores on the corresponding exams (e.g. a 5) can look good. It shows that you 1) are academically strong, 2) motivated, 3) able to work independently, and 4) intellectually curious.

    @TheSATTeacher, every single admissions thing I have been to (and we have been doing this for a while) has included some variant of 'we are not impressed by self-studying for APs'. While it might indeed say nice things about the candidate it can also be read as being test-obsessed and not understanding what colleges actually are looking for. Genuine motivation, curiosity and ability to work independently can also be shown through ECs.

    OP, as @momofsenior1 noted, every school submits a school report. It includes whether (and how many) APs / honors / etc are offered, how many students are involved in them, whether grades are weighted and if so, how, what course requirements and options are available to students, etc. You will only be evaluated in the context of what is available to you and your classmates.

    If you are really interested in Psych there are better ways to learn about it than self-studying for an AP.
    · Reply · Share
  • worryingabtcollegeworryingabtcollege 11 replies11 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    so do you think it would be better if I just did an Independent Study on Psychology and not use it for AP prep? i want to pursue something in the medical field, would a course of Independent Study on Psychology help? or should I just drop this idea? Thank you!!
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33093 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 19
    You're a rising soph and AP psych is no benefit. There are some kids who want to go into psychology, specifically, and study it out of pure interest. But you're talking about it being an AP boost for college and getting a 5, which sounds like studying to the test, using some test prep books.

    Top colleges prefer the classroom experince. That still doesn't make it important. If your school doesn't offer it, that doesn't make it more valuable to self study. You can't be qualified for an Independent Study, you're a newbie to the field. It won't make sense to an adcom. And it's not one of the things colleges look for or are impressed by, for bio/premed. You've started some hospital work. Now get involved in school math-science ECs, as well as other. Learn what does matter to colleges, from what they say.
    edited July 19
    · Reply · Share
  • TheSATTeacherTheSATTeacher 236 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited July 19
    @collegemom3717
    @worryingabtcollege

    I am not so sure. I have heard otherwise. Perhaps 'impressive' is the wrong word to use. A high AP score is not necessarily impressive, but it is demonstrative of academic ability.

    Many colleges do care considerably about AP scores. William Fitzsimmons (longtime dean of admissions at Harvard) is on record as saying that the best predictors of academic success at Harvard are AP and IB scores--not grades in AP classes. According to him, AP and IB scores are followed by SAT subject tests in terms of predictive power, which in turn are followed by grades, and then SAT and ACT scores. For those interested, he said this in an NYT article titled Guidance Office: Answers From Harvard's Dean, Part 2. The article is from 2009 and, while the admissions landscape has changed since then, this is still the article Harvard refers to on their admissions website to explain how they think about standardized test scores, implying that this article is still very relevant.

    You can interpret this as you like. I think it is safe to infer from this that AP scores can be a huge deal at some colleges. I don't think self-studied AP scores would be any less of a big deal (he said ap SCORES, not grades in AP classes). Of course, as I said earlier, I don't think all AP tests are treated equally: psychology is generally thought of as being less impressive.
    Also, I think self-studying for an AP can be a very good introduction to a given field. AP exams have overall good curricula, that give a reasonable introductory survey of a given field. The exam at the end also helps keep students motivated and helps keep them from dawdling to much through the material. The exam and practice materials also provide a good mechanism for students to check that they have actually been picking up the material. The AP exam, the curriculum, and the textbook all provide good structure--often the most important thing when learning on one's own.
    edited July 19
    · Reply · Share
  • skieuropeskieurope 38455 replies6720 postsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited July 19
    The article is from 2009 and, while the admissions landscape has changed since then, this is still the article Harvard refers to on their admissions website to explain how they think about standardized test scores, implying that this article is still very relevant.
    Nothing in that article refers to self studying. As noted, his comments were in 2009. An anecdote that I have often told is from 2014: When I was going through the admissions process a few years ago, I went to an Exploring College Options event, which had reps from Harvard, Stanford, Penn, Duke, and Georgetown, among others. During the Q&A, someone asked, "What do you think of applicants who self-study for additional AP's over and above the AP classes they take?" One rep responded, "Please don't do that. We're not impressed by that." The other reps all nodded.

    So either the NYT article never applied to self studying, or the philosophy changed, or the message never made it down to the people in Admissions who actually do the day-to-day work. IDK.

    And in the interest of full disclosure, I myself chose to self study AP Psych since I made the conscious choice to take other classes which I felt were more important. And that's on me; I own that.

    Having said that, my full extent of preparation was cramming over a weekend with Barron's (which is sorta why colleges don't put much stock in simply self studying for an exam).

    FYI, the fact that the AP Psych exam is so mind-numbingly easy is one of the main reasons Dartmouth eliminated AP Psych credit.
    Our recent experience with high school-based AP Psychology indicates that fewer than 15% of students with scores of 5 on the AP exam have mastered material equivalent to a passing grade in Psychology 1 at Dartmouth.
    http://pbs.dartmouth.edu/undergraduate/curriculum/transfer-and-ap-credit

    Each and every year, there are a plethora of threads asking what are the easiest APs to self study. Experienced users know what they are. More importantly, AOs know what they are. Self studying AP Physics C when the school does not offer it is one thing. Self studying Psych (or stats or environmental science) will not be viewed the same way. Colleges will, IMO, prefer that students challenge themselves within their HS's curriculum framework, and, if possible, look for DE/CC opportunities once options within the HS are exhausted.
    edited July 19
    Post edited by skieurope on
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33093 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Academic strengths are shown in the transcript. No top adcom guesses motivation or intellectual curiosity from self studying an easy class, which can be a misplaced attempt at gaming.

    Meanwhile, kids don't properly assess what does matter.

    I'm editing out some more thoughts, but, learning on one's own, in this way, is no tip.

    And 2009 is an ice age ago, in the admissions scenario. You need to pull from more than one source.
    · Reply · Share
  • worryingabtcollegeworryingabtcollege 11 replies11 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @lookingforward what are some examples of "school math-science ECs" that "matter to colleges"? That 15/16 year olds can do? (for biology major in future). Thank you!!
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33093 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Sorry, we don't know your hs. And once you have ideas of what colleges, you do need to learn more about them, including what they look for.
    · Reply · Share
  • lkg4answerslkg4answers 1507 replies178 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Colleges want to accept students who will attend classes, not just show up for the final. Attend and be engaged in your school. Show that you can balance academics and life. Do something you find interesting like yearbook, drama or dance.
    · Reply · Share
  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 2806 replies36 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    If you are considering attending college outside the US, AP scores may be more important
    · Reply · Share
  • TheSATTeacherTheSATTeacher 236 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Allow me to clarify a few things I said.

    1) Getting good AP scores on certain AP exams seems to matter a good deal at certain schools.

    2) Perhaps self-studying does not help one's chances, but that doesn't mean that doing well on the corresponding AP exam doesn't help.

    3) I don't know why a self-studied AP score would matter less than a non-self-studied AP score. Sure, students who self-study can cram for the AP, but so can students who don't self-study.

    4) Not all APs are weighted equally. As I mentioned, AP Psych is not considered that impressive. Doing well on a physics, chemistry, biology, calculus, history, English, or language AP is considered more meaningful than doing well on certain other APs.

    5) The article I cited is from 2009, but it is still the article Harvard's admissions cites on a website that is updated at least annually, implying it is still relevant. While the article mentions nothing about self-studying, it says AP SCORES (not classes) are the best predictor of whether students succeed at Harvard. FWIW, I believe Fitzsimmons, who wrote the article, is still the head of admissions at Harvard (he is involved in choosing who does and doesn't get in). Also, he said it is the best predictor. If that is true, I doubt that has changed much over the best ten years, i.e. I doubt it was a strong predictor then and a weak predictor now (whether admissions officers attitudes towards it have changed is a different matter).

    6) There is not a lot of good info out there about how colleges, especially top colleges, view AP scores. I looked at a few schools' websites and only Harvard really said anything about them. I would not take this to mean that other colleges don't care about them, though. AP exams tend to strongly favor the affluent (who have AP classes at their schools, and who can afford to take a number of AP exams). For this reason, colleges stay away from talking about them too much,

    7) One source of how colleges in general (not just top colleges) treat AP exam scores is the 2018 NACAC State of College Admissions Report. According to this report, 4.2% of colleges surveyed consider AP scores to be of considerable importance while 28.9% say it is of moderate importance. For perspective, these are most similar to the percentages for extracurricular activities (3.6% considerable importance, 34.9% moderate importance). I am not sure how helpful these numbers are for inferring anything about top colleges, though.

    8) I am not sure exactly how to account for the comments of admissions officers people on this forum have referenced. There could be a number of things going on here. Regardless, what they said does not mean that good AP scores for certain exams are not looked upon positively. Perhaps they don't find self-studying worthwhile, but that doesn't mean the end result of a good AP score isn't valuable.
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity