#069 The Ins and Outs of AP Courses with Megan Rose transcript



Megan Rose  00:00

When I was a school counselor, a child would come to me and say, Okay, I’m really good in English and history. So I’m gonna take my AP Lang and my AP US History exam. But I don’t think I’m gonna take AP calculus exam. I don’t want to ask my mom to pay for that, because I don’t think I’m gonna pass that exam. And the concern is, does it look weird? That’s always the concern that kids have when I’m applying to school. Does it look weird if I took the class, but I don’t have an exam score? And of course it doesn’t. There’s a ton of reasons kids don’t take AP exams, whether it’s you can’t afford it, or whether it’s, you know, we’re sick that day. You know, it’s not that easy to get a makeup AP test. My AP coordinators, if anyone’s listening, I know that so I think what’s most I would caution a student do not let the fear of the AP exam stop you from taking a rigorous class. If you are really interested in psychology, and you really want to take AP Psychology within your mind, you’re just not a great test taker and you’re really concerned about that test. You should take the class, the class, it’s going to show that rigor off for you.


Lisa Marker Robbins  01:05

AP courses to take them or not. That’s often the big question for many students. Some are nervous about the increased rigor demands of such courses, while the other side of the coin is those who chase the rigor as a means to getting into elite colleges. So what’s the right answer for your team? Megan Rose was a teacher for 15 years, including teaching AP courses before she transitioned to being a school counselor at a top public high school. She now brings that experience to the work she does as an independent educational consultant guiding families on the college bound journey. She’s joining us to provide AP insights that help not only guide building the very best schedule for your students, but also will help shed light on how it fits in to college admission. I’m Lisa Mark Robbins, and I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity, a flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right into a great conversation. Megan, Oh, welcome.


Megan Rose  02:14

IV said, Thank you so much for having me on. I love listening to your podcast. I love sharing your podcast. And it really is an honor to be invited. I want to thank you for that.


Lisa Marker Robbins  02:25

Well, thank you, I you know what, following along with what you’re doing, I’m like, she’s a perfect guest to speak to this. And while we’re recording in April, we’re going to drop this in May when Oh, my word students are going to be in the middle of AP exams, which can be a stress inducing time. And I find that sometimes younger students are watching the older students go through this week. And then it induces all kinds of things in them. So let’s talk about navigating this, like when does a student even know if they should be taking AP


Megan Rose  02:58

courses? So I think, again, it’s gonna vary on where you are located in the United States, right? So in some areas, students are offered the opportunity to take AP courses as young as freshman year. And so from what I see about that, typically, we’re looking at, you know, an AP Human Geography scores. Depending on your foreign language history, I do see students that are really excelling at foreign language. So what I would say is, you know, in middle school, especially if this is your oldest child, you do want to become somewhat aware of the forces that your high school are going to be offering.


Lisa Marker Robbins  03:39

Yeah, that’s really interesting that we have one private high school here in the Cincinnati area. They don’t let any students take AP courses until junior year. And sometimes families are concern freaking out, this really be honest about their child might be a disadvantage when it comes to getting into college. So you know, I don’t really see a lot of freshmen taking it. But you’re right, in some areas of the country and at some high schools, but the not only is it regional, but the high school policies vary greatly. So how do you respond to that when you have a parent going? Well, okay, at my school,


Megan Rose  04:17

freshmen aren’t allowed to do it. So I see that a lot. So you know, with Zoom, right, I have clients from all over the country. And so what works for a student maybe here in central Florida certainly doesn’t work with a student necessarily in central New Jersey, where they don’t offer this opportunity. And so what I would say to that is your child is not at a disadvantage. And because we want to be careful of comparing apples and oranges, right, because we shouldn’t be doing that kids. That kid when your child is applying to college, that high school is going to be sending to the college what’s called the High School profile. And in that profile, it’s going to go over all of the courses that are available to the student And when they can take those courses, so you are not at a disadvantage, if your school’s role is freshman year, you cannot see classes, because it’s going to see that so they are going to see that information when you are applying to school.


Lisa Marker Robbins  05:15

So there I mean, the students only held responsible for pursuing the rigor that’s available to them. And if AP is not available to you, freshman year, freshman and sophomore year, no big deal on the college side, right? Really no


Megan Rose  05:31

big deal at again, in being in the education business for you know, 20 years, I am confident in that, you know, I can’t hold you accountable for not taking something that you didn’t have a chance to take. And the same goes for different courses, right. So different high schools will offer different AP courses. If your high school doesn’t offer AP French, I can’t, you know, hold you accountable for not taking that course. So again, you are being compared to what is offered to you, as a high school student.


Lisa Marker Robbins  06:05

Well, and it’s not only, I mean, we’re talking about APS today, but to your point, some schools, a large high school might have like, a lot of different electives, that would be really cool to take. But if you go to a small high school that maybe doesn’t have as many elective offerings, or maybe, maybe one school offers Chinese, but another school only offers Spanish as a foreign language like you’re not held responsible for


Megan Rose  06:31

that. No. And I also talked about the number also, you know, I would parents often will come to me and say, you know, what’s the magic number, you know, whether it’s the SATs score, or the AC T, or the GPA, but they’re really talking about the AP class? Right? on that? What’s the magic number is six, my neighbor said it was six. And, you know, I think it’s funny that, you know, we’re assuming there is a magic number. And I always wish there was right, because it would just make this process so much easier to families. But it really largely depends on what your high school is offering. You know, if you are in a high school, a very rural area, and maybe they can’t find AP teachers, and they offer four AP courses, and you took two, you took 50% of the AP courses available to you. You know, the other side of this, obviously, is if you’re in a high school, and they’re offering 20 AP classes, and you took two, okay, well, now you took 10% And maybe if you’re taking 10% of those courses, and you have a 4.0 unweighted GPA, a college is going to go maybe they should have taken a chance and shown a little bit more rigor even. And I do mean this, if they get to be. Amen,


Lisa Marker Robbins  07:46

I remember this is years ago, so because of that not gonna say the name of the school. Yes, it was not a highly selective school, but it was a selective school, right. And there was a young man I was working with, he had a 28 on his AC T, which was on par for getting into that school. And he had, you know, 4.0, unweighted, and he didn’t get into this school, that was a school he wanted to go to. And his school counselor was the one that reached out and said, hey, you know, we’re just curious, any feedback. And they said, We don’t want kids who are playing safe and not willing to take the risk, we would have rather seen a B in an AP, and that it says a lot about the student and how they’re going to show up on our campus. And he was shocked, I was not playing it safe is not necessarily the way to go.


Megan Rose  08:43

You know, it’s not and that’s something when I work with my families, it because this is a family decision. You know, when we’re talking about scheduling, I mean, these are children is her 1415 1617 year old children. So when we’re working through this process, about the schedule, my general rule of thumb when I’m working with the student, high achieving student who, let’s say has a board point out, and let’s say they’re debating about taking AP biology. And I’ll say to them, you know, can you get a beat? And I’ll look them the student dead in the face? And I say, can you get a beat? Do you think you can get a B in this class? And the parents will go out? I don’t know if they know that. And I’ll say to the student, can you get a B? And they’ll go, Well, you know, I had an A in biology honors, and my teacher said I could probably do it, my school counselor said I could probably do it. And I’m a really hard worker, and I have time to dedicate this. I find that kids genuinely do kind of know when I asked them direct Do you think you can get a B in this class? I find that kids know. And then the follow up question. I say, you know, I said can you get to be without drowning? Right? And so what I mean by that is just your life right outside of school allow you to give the time that it takes to succeed in these courses. And again, that really depends on the balance of students house. Wrong have a student? Or how much time do you have to put into these classes? You know, because kids are kids and they have lives outside of school as they should. And they play sports, and they’re an eater and they’re in the band. I always think about the band kids, because no matter when you drive by a high school, you see practicing forever, but they have jobs, or they’re helping their family out. So that’s the other thing, you know, can you have this social life while also getting a B in this class? And I find when I ask kids that they know the answer to that.


Lisa Marker Robbins  10:29

I would agree with that. You know, I think another litmus test too is, and this goes on the side of students who I find sometimes maybe are trying to chase the rigor as a means to checking the box that kind of goes back to your like, what’s the magic number? I have a conversation too, you know, because my specialty and my passion and purpose in life is to help them figure out the right career and the college major or majors that can lead there. Your college is a vehicle to get us there. I also ask the question like, how does this align? How do these course selection align with who you are? Because, you know, if they’re thinking about how busy Am I outside of school, do I have the time to devote to an AP class? Well, yeah, maybe you do, but maybe not every period of the day. So we’re gonna choose to up the ante on the rigor in a particular area. Now I’m like, let’s choose the ones that align with where you’re headed in life, what you’re thinking career in college major wise as sort of another filter, because I agree with you kids need to be kids. There’s too much pressure on them. So let’s make wise choices.


Megan Rose  11:42

Yeah, and I think that brings up a good point, you know, like, what are you naturally interested in? Right? So if you’re naturally interested in people, and places and maybe wars, and you know, the history and culture, well, then great, you know, we have so many AP Social Studies courses available to you. And when you bring up major, I think that’s another point. I recently had a student. And when we were going over it, he wanted to major biology. In college, when I looked at his transcript that did an audit, I said, You never took AP Biology and he was dead serious. And he goes, it’s very hard. It’s very competent med school. And I said, Well, you know, that could be maybe a little bit of an issue now. Right? So to your point, when we’re talking about majors, we want to make sure that your transcript right makes sense with that major. Because again, I would be hesitant, putting, you know, a biology major down, if a student was a little concerned about taking AP Biology in high school, so didn’t have that other transcript. That’s another piece of the puzzle here.


Lisa Marker Robbins  12:42

Yeah, you’re like, if you’re afraid of AP Bio, buddy, go look at what courses you have to take to earn that biology degree, right? Where you’re trying to strike that balance for your families and thinking about the whole student and mental health and goals and all of it? Is there an amount of time that you tell them that they should, as a former AP teacher, yourself in you taught a push AP US History, which is a demanding AP course? So is there an amount of time that you say to them, you should expect to devote to an AP course,


Megan Rose  13:22

homework? Um, and so I don’t know if it’s in actual number, right? So I don’t want to say, you know, we talked about a magic number. But I think what I do ask is, you know, can you stay after school for extra? How can you go to these extra study sessions, I know, you know, we are in the midst of, you know, heading into these, you know, AP exams, I have a lot of emails from my juniors kind of, you know, breaking up with me over the course of the next two weeks, kind of dedicating this time to exams, which I, I always anticipate anyway, so it’s, you know, do you have the time, you know, to stay after school, to maybe go during lunch? I know, a lot of teacher, you know, the AP teachers, you know, I have to say, I know, a lot of them, put, you know, spend their free weekends leading up to AP exams, doing study sessions on Saturdays and things like that, you know, so do you have the time, I find that, you know, again, all kids are different. So maybe for some kid, they might need an hour a night, you know, studying, you know, the AP US History or AP Bio other kids not so much. So it’s, you know, when it gets serious, right, when it’s time for exams, do you have time to allot that to studying and of course, you know, the other thing just to throw out the juniors this year, it’s always that may SATs, right? So this year, of course, you know, the May LSAT is smack in the middle of the AP exams. So I think that’s kind of becoming a little overwhelming. So again, I just, we have to find that balance. And I think that’s where an IEC can certainly come in a school counselor, parents and come in, we know what our kids cannot handle. I think as parents right, and one of our children can handle it doesn’t mean the other one can also So we have to make sure that you know, it’s not one size fits all in terms of these AP courses,


Lisa Marker Robbins  15:05

for sure you and I both have three kids. And I think you’ll agree with me, all three of mine are very different from one another. I also think, you know, think about the high schools can usually I’ll see where it’s a consistent teacher that teaches those AP courses year after year. So really just asking around, you’ll get an idea of, well, that teacher tends to hold Saturday morning, and April or March and April. Honestly, this might be surprising to some of our listeners that’s available, and sometimes even an expectation that you carve out the time outside of school, in the evening, after school, Saturday, morning, afternoon, whatever, in this March April timeframe leading up to the exam to put in extra, so if you just ask around, you probably can get a good feel for that. So let’s transition and talk about AP exam. So there’s AP courses that are preparing students all year long for AP exams, and may talk a little bit about the ins and outs of that.


Megan Rose  16:11

So that was super interesting for me when I moved from New Jersey to Florida. So I was working with the student. And they told me that they failed in AP class. So in my mind, when you tell me you failed an AP class, I’m like, oh, no, you know, this is going to be an F on the transcript. And the students said to me, no, no, no, no, I’m sorry, I got an A in the class. But I got a two on the exam. And I said, But so then you did not fail the class. So there is a difference. And parents really have to be clear about that. Right? So what is on your transcript, what’s on your transcript is going to be your final grade in that AP class, right? That’s going to be or your semester, however, your county does it right? Aside from that, right, is going to be the AP exam, right? And that is an exam that you’re taking with the hopes possibly, of getting either credit or advancement in college, right. As a parent, I think you want to be very clear. And again, we talked about when I would say you know, eighth grade, what is your school’s policy on AP exams, because all schools in all counties are different. In my county, our school is paid for the exam, all the exams are covered. So our students do take the exams, because there’s really no reason not to. I know that’s not the case, in all schools, in many schools, parents are responsible for paying for these exams. So when I was a school counselor, a child would come to me and say, Okay, I’m really good in English and history. So I’m going to take my AP Lang and my AP US History exam. But I don’t think I’m gonna take AP calculus exam, I don’t want to ask my mom to pay for that, because I don’t think I’m going to pass that exam. And the concern is, does it look beard? That’s always the concern that kids had when I’m applying to school, does it look weird if I took the class, but I don’t have an exam score. And of course it doesn’t. There’s a ton of reasons kids don’t take AP exams, whether it’s you can’t afford it, or whether it’s, you know, we’re sick that day, you know, it’s not that easy to get a makeup AP test, I had my AP coordinators, if anyone’s listening, I knew that. So I think what’s most, I would caution a student, do not let the fear of the AP exam stop you from taking a rigorous class, if you really interested in psychology, and you really want to take AP Psychology within your mind, you’re just not a great test taker, and you’re really concerned about that test, you should take the class, take the class, it’s going to show that and rigor off for you.


Lisa Marker Robbins  18:34

I think as they also navigate that throughout the year, you’re gonna see your students confidence build, I mean, these are rigorous courses that require a lot of reading a lot of writing a lot of time analytical thinking. So it’s going to grow those skills in and somebody might go into it thinking like, I’ll never take the exam. And then here we are 678 months later, and they’re like, Oh, this is totally doable. You know,


Megan Rose  19:01

this is absolutely, and I do sort of tell students and families, your first AP class, right, when that first test comes out, you know, if let’s say you have a 4.0, up until that point, you probably got a walk out of that exam go, your first test, they shouldn’t say your final exam go. I probably needed to study a little bit more, you know, again, these are college level courses that and we have to be very clear about that, which means they’re college level tests. But I think, you know, at least it’s your point, you start to figure out a testing strategy, and you start to figure out your strengths and your weaknesses. And, you know, I’ll tell you, the AP teachers I know and the AP teachers, you know, I have the pleasure of working with are so great at growing those skills with students, the writing skills, the SR IQ, which parents you’ll start to get familiar with all the acronyms that are involved in AP but it’s really the right thing. And again, it’s you know, you may start off really struggling in that course, but don’t As teachers are so well trained, that they are going to help you grow. And that’s really where you get that confidence. Maybe you come May you pleasantly surprised. This wasn’t too bad. I think I really did well on this test. Well, you


Lisa Marker Robbins  20:13

know, this also speaks to I think back when you were talking about like, some in some schools, freshmen might even be taking them. The AP, not all AP course rigor is the same if we’re honest, right. So not all APs are created equal as far as how rigorous they are. And the colleges know that the high schools know that they’re not all viewed the same. So when US EPA students taking something freshman or sophomore year that’s available for them to take. That’s not going to be the most rigorous AP courses. So maybe it’s time to dip your toe in so that you can work up to an AP Bio in AP Chem AP cow with greater confidence.


Megan Rose  20:56

Yeah, and again, and so we have, you know, College Board is coming out with you two new AP courses, right. So, in terms of math, you’re going to have AP precalculus. So now you are going to have students who Lisa, maybe you know it depending on their math track, right. But if you have an advanced student who, let’s say freshman year as an Honors Algebra Two, which can be a track again, you would be advanced sophomore year, usually you would be taking honors precalculus. Well, now we have AP PreCalculus made available to what on if that is available in your school, you know, it’s coming out it doesn’t need it’s available in your school. But yeah, certainly I would not recommend AP physic for anyone’s first trial run at an AP class. But again, I think that’s when the counselor and I see and the teacher comes into play, right? Like, if you are the parent of a child who really loves learning about people or loves to read a reader, right? Those kids are going to do really well on AP lay, you know, if you have a reader, a kid who really excels in reading and writing, they’re gonna do well, you know, same thing, if you have a kid who loves reading, you know about history, they’re gonna do really well on those history courses.


Lisa Marker Robbins  22:01

I love that. That just you’re instilling confidence. You know, that’s part of what I love about this conversation. Now, let’s go back for just a second as we’re getting ready to wrap up here pretty soon. And, you know, you mentioned the kid who got an A in the class, but a two on the exam. Talk to the point of who ends up seeing these AP scores that students


Megan Rose  22:22

earn? Great, and it’s a great question. So it’s interesting, when you were applying to school, you’re going to notice on the Common Application, when you come to testing, there’s a word in there that says wish. And what that statement is, it says, Do you wish to report any scores, including AP scores, right? So that’s where you can choose what exams you want to report. Right? A general rule of thumb, right, if you’re applying to general schools is a passing score is a three to five, right? So with three, four or five, generally speaking, you would report now, again, highly selective school, that’s kind of a little bit of a different story. But a majority of students aren’t going to highly selective schools, right. So you would then record a three, four or a five, but you are not required to report for 99.99% of schools, you are not required to report all of those scores. And so that is, again, I don’t want that here of the exam preventing a student from taking the course. Right, then the question becomes, why should you report a score? Right? What does that do? Right? And so, you know, it’s really not about admissions and in the sense of an AP exam, and you’re passing an AP exam. Now you’re looking at credit, right? So the college is going to give you credit or maybe advancement, or maybe both, right, you might get credit and advancement at some schools. So you would have the ability to possibly, you know, finish your degree early, jump ahead of your peers. The other thing with that, and sometimes they do tell kids if let’s say you get a three on the AP calculus exam, sometimes I recommend to kids, not the worst thing to retake calculus in college, you know, what’s the worst thing that happens? Easy, it’s a little bit of Riverview from high school. That also is okay, too.


Lisa Marker Robbins  24:10

I totally agree with you. I want to make sure our listeners that when you say advancement, we’re talking about like, Hey, you can skip calc one and jump right into Calc Two, you can skip comp 101, or whatever it might be called and go to comp 102, or whatever it’s called. So there’s credit, they actually might give you credit for that on your college transcript, or you might get to skip a class. And that’s gonna save time in college. It’s gonna give you room to maybe not take such a heavy load from semester to semester. I always encourage my own children to take a lighter load when they started out. So that’s what in and it also makes me think of, you don’t have to even if you don’t put it if you don’t wish to put it on your college application, you still can submit add it later to ask for credit. It’s not like if you apply to college without that AP score that you’re not going to be able to make them aware of it later. Right?


Megan Rose  25:08

Right. And again, remember when you’re applying to school, whatever courses you’re taking senior year, right? Because if we are taking AP classes, we want to make sure you know, we’re showing it trends, right? So we kind of want to see an increase in rigor. Sometimes when I’m working with students that I see their senior year schedule, and it’s weightlifting and baking a guitar. And sometimes those caught, you know, one or two or okay, I’m like, Was anyone halt to who helps you pick your classes? Right? So we want to make sure a senior year, we’re showing an increase in rigor, right? So you don’t have those AP score. But what you can report and this is really important that parents see this on the Common Application, it’s going to ask you, you know, any exam that you anticipate taking, right, so then if you’re in, you know, AP wood and AP statistics, and AP Biology at the senior, you would list that right that you’re anticipating taking these courses. So then later on, right, Come May, when your deposit is down already at a school, you can go ahead and send those scores to them. Yep, well,


Lisa Marker Robbins  26:10

this is all fantastic advice is a complicated topic. I see parents and teens kind of this is one where a little angst gets in there. And I want to just real quick, tell our listeners, we talked about just overall core selection in January, that really hits that what you just ended with, and I want to reinforce it if anybody, I’ll link to it in the show notes. It was about high school course selection. But we talked about not taking your foot off the gas senior year. And a lot of families need to hear that. And I’m glad you said that. And I’m also going to link to that particular episode and the show notes because I think that you and Julie SPAC who was our guest in January, reinforce each other with a lot of this, and you’re getting very specific on this topic. And pure gold was the advice that you gave today. Megan Rose. Thank you.


Megan Rose  27:05

Thank you, Lisa, thank you so much. It was such a pleasure. Thank you all.


Lisa Marker Robbins  27:14

I hope you’re ending this episode feeling hopeful, and that you’re inspired to make great AP course choices that align with who your teen is, and their future goals without sacrificing their health. Are you ready for your college bound homework? Before I give it to you, would you do me a favor? And if you found value in this episode with Megan, could you grab the share link and send it to a friend or take a screenshot and post this episode to your social media feed. It helps us help more families. Now for your homework. There are 38 AP courses that fall into seven categories. And it’s unheard of for a high school to offer all 38 courses. So head over to your student’s high school website to check the course selection guide and identify which AP courses are options for your team. Now, the real value as a family discuss which of these courses would be good choices for your team. Based on what Megan and I shared today. I recommend using a filter of what aligns with the work they are doing as it relates to future career and college major goals. After all, college is simply a vehicle to help your students successfully launch. And if you’ve already enrolled in my launch Career Clarity course, your team may already know what that major and career is. So you’re looking for alignment with this courses. Making wise and balanced choices is the key. Don’t forget to subscribe to the College and Career Clarity podcast so I can continue to help your family move from overwhelmed, confused to motivated, clear and confident about your teens future