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Dartmouth College Ending AP Credit

Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone 3016 replies1113 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
edited May 2013 in Dartmouth College
The Dartmouth College faculty has voted to eliminate awarding credit for AP results, starting with the class of 2018. The decision is based on the belief that high school AP courses are not as rigorous at the Dartmouth equivalents.

See Dartmouth College Ending Advanced Placement Credit - ABC News

When I started working in the admission office at Smith College in the mid 1980s, Smith awarded 8 credits for a score of 4 or 5 on most AP tests (the equivalent of two college courses). During my years at Smith, that number was slashed in half to a more reasonable 4 credits. (I actually would vote for just a 2-credit boost for AP exam success.)

I've always felt that many colleges give too much credit for AP exams. However, I also see the value in cutting tuition costs by using AP results. It seems like Dartmouth could come up with a compromise.

I suspect that some CC members will have strong opinions on the Dartmouth decision, both pro and con.
edited May 2013
245 replies
Post edited by Sally_Rubenstone on
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Replies to: Dartmouth College Ending AP Credit

  • CatriaCatria 11199 replies150 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Is it money-gouging from Dartmouth's part or not?
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  • mythreesons1144mythreesons1144 164 replies9 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Are there any other Ivies or top schools that give AP credit? I was under the impression that almost all shied away from this. I will be happy to learn that I am wrong...
    Thanks to anyone who can answer this question.
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  • perazzimanperazziman 2357 replies63 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^The story mentions how Harvard does and Princeton gives Advanced Placement.
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  • stemitstemit 544 replies31 threadsRegistered User Member
    Princeton allows for credit for some APs. AP Credit Reference Table - Advanced Placement and Advanced Standing

    So, in addition to cutting back on the grant portion of FA (meaning more loans are now part of the FA package), now Dartmouth has squeezed the ability to graduate in a shorter time. As one of the most expensive schools in the country, I wonder if "lesser" schools which offer merit aid will become more attractive to potential applicants.

    And, I agree that the AP craze has become the tail wagging the dog - but that is for another thread.
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  • whenhenwhenhen 5530 replies111 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Depending on your definition of a "top school", Emory and most public schools are relatively generous with AP credits.

    I agree with Dartmouth on not awarding credit for AP courses. Most APs do not come close to the level of rigor at any academically decent college. If I were a parent and found out that my kid's freshman English class relied on timed essays and multiple choice to determine if he were ready to write on a college level, he wouldn't be going to that school next semester. However Dartmouth should institute a competency based examination for students interested in obtaining credit for a class they've already taken or self studied.

    I also question the idea that 90% of students that took the AP class failed the final exam. Those abysmal results may simply be attributed to students forgetting the material, since Dartmouth presumably didn't administer its intro psych exam the day after students took the AP Psych test.
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  • BeliavskyBeliavsky 1166 replies87 threads- Senior Member
    One way to test if scores on AP exams certify the same level of knowledge as college courses is to look at how students do in upper-level courses. If students who earn a 4 or 5 on AP Calculus BC and start with multivariable calculus at Dartmouth do as well as students who took single-variable calculus at Dartmouth, that suggests the AP score of 4 or 5 deserves credit.

    Did Dartmouth do such a study? I see no evidence for it. Of course they are gouging.
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  • GolfFatherGolfFather 1462 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Again, please, please remember ... colleges are a business.

    This decision is based on . . .

    $
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29422 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    They will find out whether that is an issue or not in their yield. When going on college tours, questions about AP credit always come up. I personally have no opinion about this. With the cost of college going up as it is, and the economy and jobs not doing so hot, things like this can make a difference to some students and parents. The ones to whom it will make the most difference will likely be the ones that could impact Dartmouth's yield numbers.
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  • stemitstemit 544 replies31 threadsRegistered User Member
    After re-reading the article, I am leaning towards the view which believes this is an economically based decision. If Dartmouth uses the AP result to place the student in a higher level course, why isn't the school giving the option of claiming credit for the course placed out?
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  • aigiqinfaigiqinf 3842 replies190 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Many schools offer AP credit without allowing that credit to decrease the number of major courses or allow the student to graduate any early. At the same time, I think it's bad policy not to allow students with exceptional preparation to receive credit for their work.
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  • bookmobilebookmobile 232 replies30 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    At Yale, AP scores can earn you a limited number of "acceleration credits" that allow you to get credit for intro courses that you then bypass.

    Award of Acceleration Credit Based on Advanced Placement Test Scores | Yale College

    My freshman chose not to do this and is taking the intro biology sequence, most of which he could have skipped according to his AP score and placement test. He is very glad that he did NOT skip freshman level bio, as it is far more detailed and rigorous than his high school AP course.

    So while I understand the skeptical view that it's all about the money, I think that at some of the top tier schools, most of the students in an intro class will have scored 5's on the AP test in that subject. The bar is just set higher. Sure, it's nice to get "free" credits -- but not if it accelerates you into courses for which you are not adequately prepared. This sounds like the argument Dartmouth is making.
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  • stemitstemit 544 replies31 threadsRegistered User Member
    ^But Dartmouth is not making that argument (I believe MIT makes all students take the intro class regardless). According to the article, Dartmouth will use the AP result to place you into a higher level class. So, in effect the school is saying the AP result is sufficient to prove proficiency at the intro level, but not sufficient to give credit.

    My S used some APs to take a higher level class in some areas and didn't use his APs in other areas. He really had to bust his butt to fill in the knowledge holes caused by the AP class - he operated at a real disadvantage to those who took the college intro class. But I think each case is unique and depends upon the student.
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  • HorusHorus 84 replies30 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I'm not so sure it's all about money. Maybe it's about increasing academic rigor. (Hasn't Dartmouth been criticized elsewhere on CC as being one of the "lesser Ivies"?) If you can get through a college like Dartmouth with fewer than the usual 8 semesters, thanks to a handful of AP credits, are you really getting an EDUCATION? Isn't getting an education the point? At one top college I can think of off hand -- Williams, students can place out of certain intro courses in certain departments with AP scores of 4 or 5, but they still must take the full 8 semesters' worth of courses to graduate. In other words, AP credits don't get them through Williams any faster. There's no tuition $ to be saved. I think the idea is that there is still something these student can LEARN while in college; for example, they can fill out their remaining semesters with courses in other disciplines that they might not be familiar with. That's the beauty of a liberal arts education.
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  • FightTheTideFightTheTide 66 replies13 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Dartmouth's sharp decline in applications this year may continue into next year if this takes effect. Personally, I didn't have any interest in applying to this school before and did not apply, but to students next year, this could be a pivotal factor in their choice of college. Although their stated intentions are to make sure students know the material, Dartmouth really should have done a study before announcing this.

    In a hypothetical situation next year, student A applies to all the ivies, gets rejected from all but a few, with Dartmouth included. As this student didn't research deeply into the schools because of the IVY name recognition, it's entirely possible that Dartmouth is crossed off the list once said student goes back and realizes that AP credit is not accepted. Student B thinks s/he knows everything about the schools s/he is applying to and is using information that has not been updated. After applying, and being accepted to Dartmouth and other high-calibre schools, Student B realizes that AP credit is not accepted at Dartmouth, so s/he decides not to matriculate. Student C gets accurate information about Dartmouth and upon reading that AP credit is not offered, does not even apply or applies just to see if s/he is good enough to be accepted. Unfortunately for Dartmouth, this policy will be seen by a lot of students and parents as a grab for cash and the effects of this policy change may drastically affect the yield rate, as other posters have noted.
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  • kmcmom13kmcmom13 3904 replies11 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    While I always fully expect an institution to look out for itself fiscally, because it IS INDEED a business, I have little doubt that the actual motive in this move is the genuine ubiquity of AP courses and uneven delivery informs this decision.

    If you have a school where the vast majority of the population has taken AP credit or is AP credit-worthy, so to speak, why on earth would an intro class at such an institution be considered equivalent. Put another way, would it make sense to offer an intro class at a rigorous top rated university that was NO MORE RIGOROUS than a highschool-delivered AP class? To my mind, that would be wasting money, resources and opportunity.
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  • stemitstemit 544 replies31 threadsRegistered User Member
    Horus.

    I wonder if your perspective would change if you were the one forking over 60k per year?

    Middle class families are really under severe strain and I would rather give as little as possible to the schools than as much as possible. For some, eliminating the OPTION of shortening college may make the difference between attending a 60k per year school or not attending.

    As an aside, I would love to read the methodology and control used in the Dartmouth study. For example, did the school give the same exam to real Dartmouth students who were enrolled in that class as a "pop final" - with no time to study and prepare? If so, what was the result? If not, why not? And was the study designed to eliminate the "learning curve" associated with taking a college mid-term and problem sets which lead up to the final? And were the kids warned at the beginning of the summer so they could study (like a real college student who has time to study)? While my kids are pretty bright, they still need to prepare for exams.
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  • HorusHorus 84 replies30 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Stemit: How do you know I am not forking over this level of $? There are still some people in the world that actually value a rigorous liberal arts education, and save and sacrifice for many years to make such an education possible for their kids.
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  • WindCloudUltraWindCloudUltra 1703 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    One way to test if scores on AP exams certify the same level of knowledge as college courses is to look at how students do in upper-level courses. If students who earn a 4 or 5 on AP Calculus BC and start with multivariable calculus at Dartmouth do as well as students who took single-variable calculus at Dartmouth, that suggests the AP score of 4 or 5 deserves credit.

    It would be very hard to control. There's likely a lot of self-selection involved here. Yes, while there are some who don't take calc simply because their district doesn't offer it, it's likely that students who take AP calc, in general and on average, are simple better math students than those who wait until college.

    And that's not the only thing to control for. Are freshmen and sophomore study habits different? Those getting AP credit would take multi-variable in frosh while those who take single-variable calc would take it their second year.

    And on and on.
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  • tptshortytptshorty 556 replies2 threadsRegistered User Member
    I think it's entirely valid for colleges to give AP credit for freshman-level GE courses such as AP English or AP Psychology, or to satisfy foreign-language requirements. I did a three-year BA in Australia, which follows the British system. Parents could save a lot of money if colleges offered a three-year BA/BS.
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  • LAClusterLACluster 81 replies19 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    "At one top college I can think of off hand -- Williams, students can place out of certain intro courses in certain departments with AP scores of 4 or 5, but they still must take the full 8 semesters' worth of courses to graduate. In other words, AP credits don't get them through Williams any faster. There's no tuition $ to be saved."

    This policy hasn't seemed to hurt interest in Williams. I'm guessing there are other elite LACs with a policy like this. Haverford? Swarthmore? other rigorous colleges?
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