I'll have taken around 16 AP courses by the end of senior year, and let's just say 10-12 of them count for a credit. Would I be able to get an associate degree? What degree could I earn? How would this help me if I still plan to get a bachelor's degree? How does this work?
The short answer is that you can certainly find a less competitive college that may accept all your 16 APs and give you corresponding college credit for those classes if they align with their graduation requirements. So in an ideal situation, say ABC College says all 16 APs are applicable as long as you have scored a min. of a 3 on the AP exam. For argument's sake, let's say you have scored a 3 for all of them, so when you matriculate with this college you will meet with your academic dean who will determine how many college credits each course is worth. For simplicity's sake, most college courses are 3 credits or units. Therefore you would receive a maximum of (16 X 3) or 48 college credits for your high school work. Most AA degrees are between 60-64 credits so you will be about 12-16 credits short in the best scenario.
However, not many colleges will accept all 16 APs because they have their own core curriculum requirements.
For example at MIT, you get ZERO AP credit for AP Bio, AP Chem, AP CS, AP Calc AB, AP Stats, AP Env Science, and a Maximum of 9 credits for an AP in some humanities and a Max of 9 credits for AP LIT and AP Lang but only if you scored a "5" on these exams. Zero credit for 4s and 3s. So at MIT you might get a maximum of 18 credits if you took specific coursework that aligns with their policy.
At Brown or Williams, I think you get ZERO college credit for APs. At other schools like Vassar, I think it's like 6 credits maximum.
You see, college is not just about the big "D" (Diploma). It's about being part of the group of high-achieving students who hopefully find community in an academic setting and help and learn from one another to be the best version of themselves.
If you have aspirations to attend a Top 25 college, then you should set aside this mentality that you need to get the maximum value for your AP credits. For the most successful admits at Top 25 colleges, taking 10-15 APs or college courses or earning an IB diploma is a prerequisite to gaining admission, and that is all. It's not a tool to gain advanced standing or skip 1 or 2 years of college.
Good luck and I hope you understand that college is a whole chapter of your life you should fully engage in for the entire 4 years.
The standard bachelor's degree is about 120 credits total, of which 60 come from general education or gen ed, which you can get credit for through AP, IB, and/or dual enrollment. Considering a standard college course is 3 credits, you would need to have passed the equivalent of 20 college courses going in to have your AA or gen ed completed.
There are some exceptions - since AP Calc BC is Calc I and Calc II, and they are worth 4 credits each at my college, I earned 8 credits for getting a 5 on the BC exam. All schools (depending on selectivity) will have a cap on the number of credits they accept and require a certain score for the classes they accept. If you have 4s/5s and some 3s on 10-12 exams, that's already a great start and you can still graduate early or do a double major. But the only kids I know that came into college with their AA or gen ed complete went to a special high school where they could dual enroll at a state school and transfer the credits to any other school within that system once they went to college.
I would check out your local community college. They may allow you to transfer in the AP credits and take classes to complete an associates. If you complete the associates by the end of high school, you should be able to go to college and complete a bachelors degree without any problems. I considered getting an associates during high school but not enough of the classes would cover things my bachelor degree would require. In my situation, it is better to handpick the general education credits that would transfer into the bachelor's program and ultimately save time and money.
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