AP testing is almost over (to anyone who has an AP test tomorrow, best of luck!) for this year, and you probably have already selected your courses you’re taking next year. If your school doesn’t offer a lot of AP classes/a specific AP class you want to take, or your school limits when and how many AP classes you can take, you might be considering taking an AP course online through an accredited provider.
I did exactly this with AP Psychology since I didn’t have room for it in my schedule at school; I took a self-paced online course through BYU Independent Study during the summer, and then basically retaught myself everything before the AP test. This path might not work for everyone, so keep on reading if you want my advice on whether it will work for you.
Keep in mind that this is all based off of my personal experience and I am not a teacher or education expert! Make sure to talk to your parents and/or counselor to see if they think online AP classes are a good fit for you.
You SHOULD take an online AP class if:
- You have the funds. Online AP classes are expensive unless you live in a state like Florida that has a program where you can take them for free (use FLVS!). I live in California and we don’t have a program like that, so I had to make sure my parents were okay paying for a class. BYU Independent Study was the most affordable choice for AP Psychology at least, but it’s overall expensive
- You’re self-motivated and will get the work done. Don’t pile extra work on yourself if it’s just going to stress you out more and you’re going to procrastinate doing it. You’ll have to hold yourself accountable, and no matter how good the teacher of the online class is, you’ll still end up being your own teacher in a lot of ways.
- You can get an A (or B) in the class to boost your GPA. These classes are super helpful for bumping up your GPA as long as you get a good grade. Make sure your school will accept the credits and put them on your high school transcript if that’s what your after- my school also has a limit on how many online classes you can take, so make sure to check that out too.
- You’re genuinely interested in the class (or you need it to graduate). Unless you need to take the class or you really want to take the class, it probably will just be a burden and something you dread doing. I was genuinely interested in psychology and didn’t have room in my schedule sophomore year to take the class at my school, so it was worth it for me to take it (especially because of the GPA boost).
You SHOULD NOT take an online AP class if:
- You want to take an ‘easier’ version of an AP class. Although some online AP classes can be easier than others or the in-class version, this still isn’t the best attitude to have. Most of the time, you’ll still need to put a decent amount of work in, so make sure you’re willing to.
- You’re mainly taking it to pass the AP exam and get college credit, not because of interest in the class itself. It might be a waste of money to do this. If you’re motivated enough to take extra AP classes/tests, you’re probably motivated enough to self-study the material and take the test without paying for the class you don’t actually care about. I personally didn’t want to self-study since I actually wanted to take the class and I didn’t think I would be self-disciplined enough or have the resources to self-study, but lots of people do it successfully.
- You have the opportunity to take the same class at school. Unless there’s a scheduling conflict or another reason you’re not able to take the class at school, I would highly recommend taking the classes in person if your school offers them. You’ll have a lot more support leading up to the AP test, and it will overall usually be a better, more complete learning experience.
Another aspect of online AP classes I would like to address is the timing of taking the class. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend taking an online AP class over summer like I did. Although it was useful to get the course done at my convenience in a short period of time, it was much more difficult for me to reteach myself the material and study for the AP test. Taking an online class during the school year might pile on even more to your normal school workload, but it also might be easier when AP tests come closer. This is something you’ll want to consider when deciding to take an online AP course; it’s important to choose the schedule that works best for you.
Lastly, if you’ve decided you for sure want to take an online AP course, here are some reputable providers:
- FLVS (free for Florida residents like I mentioned, but available to anyone with a price)
- BYU Independent Study
- Virtual High School/VHS
- Laurel Springs
- UC Scout
- Johns Hopkins CTY (I think you have to apply first? they’re also extremely pricey and rigorous but are very highly rated by those who take them!)
I hope this helped out anyone considering the pros and cons of online AP courses in deciding whether they would be a good choice for them. I personally plan on taking AP Art History this next year, as I need an art credit to graduate and I don’t have room in my schedule to take the class at school. We’re all in this together! Please let me know if you have any further questions. Stay safe and healthy.