Q:

I've always been an advocate of smart kids taking AP (advanced placement) courses. My son is reluctant to take an AP class, citing more work and possibly lower grades. What is your opinion? -- Interested

A:

AP courses offer high school students a chance to take a challenging college level course. A national report indicated that 32 percent of the 2012 high school graduating class took an AP course. Students who take these courses are more likely to succeed in college. This might simply mean that these students are better and more motivated students.

Students take AP courses for several reasons. Many want a chance to increase their grade point average and class rank. Others would like to enter college with some college credits under their belts from their scores on the AP exam.

AP courses are definitely worthwhile for students who are well-prepared for the more challenging material, motivated and have a good teacher. They have a downside, too. Colleges do not always give credits for these courses, so they might have to be repeated in college. Plus, they can really add stress to the lives of high-achieving students who already have their time so filled with extracurricular activities and homework. And a very low grade in an AP course can really lower a student's grade point average.

Possibly talking to students and parents of students who took AP courses could help you and your son determine whether an AP course is right for him.

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