Are Advanced Placement Courses Diminishing Liberal Arts Education?
At this time of year, thousands of academically accomplished students enter selective higher education institutions like mine, beginning their arduous journey toward bachelor’s degrees and beyond. They have stellar grade point averages, high SAT scores, and impressive records of community service. The vast majority also have completed Advanced Placement courses in high school, providing them with college credit and ostensibly preparing them for the rigorous academic work they will face as undergraduates.
Yet, my 40 years of undergraduate teaching in the humanities and social sciences, currently at the University of California, Los Angeles, persuade me that Advanced Placement preparation is overrated and may, ironically, diminish rather than advance the deeper objectives of a liberal arts education.
This may be a minority, even heretical, view among my faculty colleagues. Most assume that students’ AP experiences provide a modest advantage in their courses, through superior subject-matter knowledge and higher personal motivation. My experiences...
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