A prestigious college degree is seen as a passport to success, and high school students find themselves in an academic furnace, forging their credentials to match the golden ticket of acceptance from elite institutions. Amidst this backdrop, a discussion on Reddit unveils the grueling demands of Advanced Placement (AP) courses and dual enrollment, often perceived as the keys to unlocking the gates of prestigious colleges. However, discord emerges as the discussion develops, questioning the essence of this difficult journey. Are the rigorous academic loads justified, or is there a disconnect between the high school curriculum and the actual prerequisites of college education? 

Woman shrugging
✅ AI Essay Writer ✅ AI Detector ✅ Plagchecker ✅ Paraphraser
✅ Summarizer ✅ Citation Generator

Key Takeaways:

  • The current education system places immense pressure on high school students to undertake a grueling curriculum.
  • There is a growing call among education experts and the community for a more holistic college admissions process. 
  • The discussion highlights the potential value of alternative educational pathways such as vocational training, internships, and project-based learning. 

The world of college admissions has evolved into a competitive arena where high school students compete for a spot in esteemed institutions. A significant aspect of this competition lies in the robustness of the academic portfolio a student brings to the table. Advanced Placement (AP) courses and Dual Enrollment are often heralded as the hallmark of academic rigor, allowing students to showcase their readiness for the intensive college environment. These courses, administered by the College Board, are designed to offer a taste of college-level coursework while potentially earning college credits, making them a seemingly indispensable asset in the eyes of both students and admissions officers.

However, the reality is not as straightforward as it seems. The quest for a well-rounded academic profile has inadvertently cultivated a culture of relentless pursuit of perfection. The conversation on Reddit reflects this belief, shedding light on the intense pressure students face to not only enroll in numerous AP courses across various core academic areas but to excel in them unequivocally. This relentless pursuit often extends to maintaining near-perfect grade point averages, which leaves little room for error.

The paradox deepens when the credits earned from these rigorous courses are at times not acknowledged by the very institutions students strive to enter, mandating them to retake similar courses in their freshman year. Furthermore, when compared with the practices of grade inflation at prestigious colleges, the tough high school grading system appears somewhat out of place.

In light of these revelations, the discourse steers towards critically examining the current high school curriculum’s alignment with the real expectations and requirements of college education. The Reddit community, a melting pot of diverse perspectives, is a fertile ground for exploring this issue, offering a glimpse into students’ varying experiences and opinions. 

Community Insights

The discussion on Reddit opens up an avenue to explore the varied perspectives surrounding the rigid academic path leading to elite college admissions. The conversation acknowledges a notable differentiation between preparations for top-tier institutions and other colleges.

Preparation for Elite Colleges

Users collectively point out that the demanding academic regimen is more aligned with aspirations toward top-tier colleges rather than a universal requirement for all college-bound students. 

“Yea? This is true for top colleges, not ALL colleges. If you did this for my normal state school, you’d be starting college with 30-60 credits from a combo of AP tests (mostly 3+s are accepted) and DE … and prob finding college to be easy at the beginning.”

They describe a scenario where students sticking to this relentless preparation find themselves well ahead in terms of college credits, especially when enrolling in less competitive institutions. This tendency underpins the notion that the extensive Advanced Placement (AP) course load is somewhat an overreach for standard college readiness and is instead a tailored strategy for those eyeing elite college admissions.

Examining Academic Rigor

There’s a shared skepticism among users regarding the claimed college-level rigor of AP courses. They express concerns about the actual equivalence of these courses to college-level academics, particularly pinpointing courses like Literature and Language. This opinion cultivates a broader discussion on the authenticity of the college readiness claim attached to these courses. Furthermore, users reflect on the flexibility in AP course selection, underlining that students often tailor their AP course load based on personal interests and intended college majors, which underscores a more personalized approach to college preparation.

“Yea? This is true for top colleges, not ALL colleges. If you did this for my normal state school, you’d be starting college with 30-60 credits from a combo of AP tests (mostly 3+s are accepted) and DE … and prob finding college to be easy at the beginning.”

The College Credit Confusion

The conversation turns a critical eye toward the acceptance of AP and Dual Enrollment credits by colleges. They present varied circumstances where some colleges are open to acknowledging these credits, providing an opportunity for students to test out of General Education (GE) requirements. 

“There are plenty of schools that let you test out of GE requirements or just straight up accepting the credits on a case-by-case basis.”

This idea contrasts with the initial report of credits being discarded, particularly by elite institutions, hinting at a diverse college acceptance policy concerning AP and dual enrollment credits.

Key features of the dual enrollment program:

  • Early College Exposure: Dual enrollment programs provide high school students with an early exposure to college-level coursework and the college environment, which can be beneficial in preparing them for the transition to college.
  • Cost Efficiency: These programs can be a cost-effective way for students to earn college credits as the tuition for dual enrollment courses is often lower than traditional college courses. In some cases, the high school or state may cover the cost of tuition, making it even more economical.
  • Time Saving: By earning college credits while still in high school, students can potentially shorten the time it takes to complete a college degree.
  • Enhanced Academic Performance: Participation in dual enrollment can foster academic achievement by presenting students with challenging coursework that enhances their academic skills and intellectual curiosity.
  • Transferability of Credits: The college credits earned through dual enrollment are often transferable to other colleges and universities, although the acceptance of these credits can vary from one institution to another.
  • Variety of Courses: Dual enrollment courses can range from general education classes to more specialized courses in a particular field of study, giving students an opportunity to explore areas of interest before they officially start their college education.
  • Support Systems: Dual enrollment students often have access to college resources and support systems, such as tutoring centers and libraries, which can aid their academic success.

Alternative Paths and The “Admissions Lottery”

The unpredictability of college admissions emerges as a theme, with users referring to it as an “admissions lottery.”

“If you are from rural Appalachia, speak 3 languages fluently, have won a bunch of autoharp competitions and have a reasonably rigorous academic record, maybe you will win the admissions lottery because you’re a unique applicant.” 

They argue that unique personal accomplishments, backgrounds, and diversified skills could capture Admissions Officers’ interest, suggesting that a stringent academic curriculum might not be the sole pathway to securing a prestigious college seat. This standpoint broadens the discussion, introducing the notion that there could be multiple pathways leading to college admissions, each with its unique set of challenges and advantages.

Reimagining College Admissions

The sentiments echoed within the Reddit community resonate with various education experts who have delved into the intricacies of college admissions and high school curricula. These experts often stress re-evaluating the established norms to foster a more holistic and equitable education system.

Holistic Admissions ProcessExperts argue for a more holistic approach toward college admissions. They suggest that besides academic achievements, other facets of a student’s profile, such as character strengths, extracurricular involvement, and unique life experiences, should hold significant weight in the admissions process. This perspective aligns with the Reddit users’ call for acknowledging diverse student capabilities and accomplishments beyond the traditional academic sphere.
Addressing Equity ConcernsEducational equity advocates emphasize the inherent disparities within a system that heavily leans on standardized testing and exhaustive advanced coursework. They argue that this model inadvertently favors students from affluent backgrounds with access to many resources. Experts call for a more inclusive admissions framework that can adequately reflect the diverse socio-economic realities of students, thereby promoting a more equitable education landscape.
Value of Alternative Educational PathwaysThe discussion around alternative educational pathways has gained momentum in academic circles. Experts propose that vocational training, internships, and project-based learning experiences can provide valuable real-world skills and knowledge. These alternative pathways could also serve as a viable route for students to demonstrate their college readiness, aligning with the Reddit lesson that stresses the importance of practical and experiential learning.
Promoting Well-rounded DevelopmentPsychologists and education experts underline the importance of fostering a well-rounded development during the formative high school years. They caution against overemphasizing academic rigor, which may lead to stress and burnout among students. Advocates for a balanced education stress the significance of nurturing other essential life skills, such as emotional intelligence, resilience, and interpersonal skills, which are crucial for success in college and beyond.

The Bottom Line

Transitioning from high school to college is a critical phase in a student’s academic and personal development. However, as illuminated by the spirited discussion in the Reddit community and confirmed by education experts, the current path laden with excessive academic rigors and a narrow focus on traditional college preparations paints a demanding, often stressful, picture for students. It calls into question the fairness and efficacy of a system deeply entrenched in competition and a one-size-fits-all approach to evaluating student potential.


Opt out or Contact us anytime. See our Privacy Notice

Follow us on Reddit for more insights and updates.

Comments (0)

Welcome to A*Help comments!

We’re all about debate and discussion at A*Help.

We value the diverse opinions of users, so you may find points of view that you don’t agree with. And that’s cool. However, there are certain things we’re not OK with: attempts to manipulate our data in any way, for example, or the posting of discriminative, offensive, hateful, or disparaging material.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Register | Lost your password?