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College Admissions Planning AP vs. IP vs. AICE

AP Classes

Yes, these are the most challenging courses available in high school and will prepare your student for the reality of the demands of the undergraduate academic experience. I highly encourage every single high school student to take at least one such course before graduating.
Moreover, your scores on AP exams allow admissions to objectively compare students across high schools. AP exam scores are NOT currently a required element on your college application, but excluding them in the space provided on the Common Application hints at your score. No one fails to share a “4” or a “5” on their college application.  BEWARE: some high schools actually report your AP score on your transcript.
As noted earlier in earlier blogs on testsing– we anticipate seeing a shift in the next few years to seeing AP scores become an accepted part of college admissions.
There are over 16 AP classes in Humanities, Social Sciences, STEM, visual and creative arts and foreign language. If you can manage- I suggest increasing the number of AP courses each year- to comfortably handle 2 to 4 by the senior year– similar to the demands of the freshman year of undergraduate study. My separate newsletter on AP courses has specific detailed recommendations by interest level.
AP exam scores may also substitute for SAT/ACT scores at Test-Flexible universities. For example, including three exams of your choice allows subject-specific test takers to reduce test anxiety and increase their chances of college admissions.
For a complete list of available AP and their descriptions CLICK HERE for AP COURSES.

Ask me which AP tests are invaluable, if not essential, given your student’s longer-term educational plans.

For example, aspiring engineers- AP Physics C preferred over AP Physics 1.
For example, heading to medical school — AP Biology is essential in high school to put you on the footing for the demanding Biology and Chemistry courses ahead.
Business, Humanities, Social Sciences– depending on your interest area– I strongly recommend AP Language, AP Statistics or any of the available AP Economics/Government (4 of them ).
Despite the best of intentions and the best time management, enrolling in too many AP classes can create hours of homework thus limiting time available for meaningful extracurricular activities (which are also essential for admissions success), needed sleep and family harmony (parent-child dynamics suffer when students are stressed and unnecessary homework completion “arguments” ensue).
For example, if your student is STEM focused, there is little admissions advantage gained from taking AP History classes which have exceptionally large homework demands.  AP World is an absoulte time devourer – the coverage is immense- there is no reason for a STEM student to enroll unless you lovvvveeee history. However, fear of writing – you need to write- and I always gently push my STEM students to take AP English (business students too!)
Likewise, many non-STEM students – feel “iffy” about their success in mathematics classes and many say they don’t enjoy high school science. I am going to take some heat here- but Marine Science is NOT a science class that I recommend. Core science is Physics, Biology and Chemistry- it’s what we see listed on college admissions recommendations for your college application. Whatever major you select- you will have a required year of science ahead as an undergraduate– please don’t arrive at college with only 9th and 10th grade science behind you and then enroll in Marine or Anatomy for 11th– You need to have a background in science – it’s 2023!
Perhaps you’ll consider AP Environmental Science– even a business student or aspiring attorney will one day face the discussions that humanity will address on global warming- learn enough to talk with the scientists – even if you aren’t a scientist will level the playing field for you in whatever industry you land. Big picture- it’s only high school- every teen is perfectly capable of completing these courses.
Again, admissions representatives aren’t impressed by APUSH on a STEM applicant’s high school transcript. The flip side, humanities driven students might consider the importance of “big data”! All disciplines are now moving to analytics. So, while AP Physics isn’t necessarily your cup of tea, if you’re a pre-law, business or even an aspiring English major, consider AP Statistics, AP Psychology or AP Computer Science adding breadth to your file setting you apart from the typical humanities applicant.
Don’t follow the crowd- but focus on creating your unique high school curriculum plan
that is relevant to your education, college admissions and career objectives. Leverage my extensive knowledge of academic disciplines and explore some unusual major areas of study (increasing your odds of admission and making you a stronger student).


AP vs. IB vs. AICE

As noted, the Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) and AICE programs are college-level courses providing the opportunity to earn college credit.
The underlying educational philosophies are quite different. The AP program is offered through the College Board and allows students to select one or a dozen+ courses tailored to their specific goals.
In contrast, the IB program was developed in Europe and as the name implies, it’s an international program. Students earn a diploma by completing a specified number of courses across a range of subjects. To earn a diploma, there are specific distribution requirements. In some high schools, students are allowed to enroll in just a few IBs without earning their diploma. This is also the case for the AICE program.
IB courses and the overall program place a significant emphasis on writing and developing critical thinking skills. Earning an IB diploma requires each student to complete an extended essay on a research paper. Unfortunately, many high schools don’t schedule the timing of the essay to offer students the opportunity to submit their IB research papers to nationally sponsored essay competitions or to include on their college applications submitted early in the senior year.
Aside: Click to View my recent newsletter on  COMPETITIONS increase ADMISSIONS SUCCESS
A noteworthy difference between an AICE and IB diploma is flexibility. Students can select courses within three AICE curriculum areas. AICE is the most recent of the programs (piloted within the state of Florida), and it was only recently that the Common Application even recognized AICE as an option for designating course level. It is one of the newest advanced academic programs. AICE courses aren’t as difficult as AP or IB courses.
AICE courses don’t often prepare students for success on required SATII subject tests – which is no longer a consideration. However, if you look at the college transfer credit requirements– all colleges have clear guidelines on AP scoring and earning credit/undergraduate placement. That’s simply not the case for AICE. AICE diplomas have favorable status in Florida colleges- but their widespread appeal is lacking in most settings and the courses aren’t simply as rigorous as the gold standard of high school coursework in AP and IB. If you’re a Florida resident- you may be focused on the Bright Futures scholarship and in this case, the AICE coursework and diploma takes on a unique relevancy.
Like the IB diploma, students within an AICE program take a variety of different level exams with specific subject area distributions with an option to earn an AICE Diploma. Few competitive colleges accept AICE credits towards the undergraduate transcript.
The AP program creates opportunities for students to learn specific content and subsequently tests this knowledge on AP exams. Courses have content objectives. AP exams have become the gold-standard of an academically rigorous curriculum. Earning a high grade on an AP exam can overshadow the high school transcript.
For STEM students to be competitive in the admissions process, AP Calculus, AP Bio/Chem and/or Physics, APCS are invaluable and often expected on a student’s transcript to be a viable candidate in the most competitive of colleges.
Likewise, courses in AP History or AP Economics or AP Lang/Lit will be invaluable to preparation for many Humanities and Business students.
*** By the Junior year- students should have enrolled in at least one or two AP classes related to the intended college major area of interest. This is not only to be a stronger applicant- but it is evidence of academic rigor and preparation that will ease the transition to the undergraduate experience.
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I invite you to schedule your mid-year strategic educational check-up to assist with summer plans and confirming course planning for the next academic year.
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College Admissions TIP:  As discussed in my blog on required testing many competitive colleges used to require SATII subject tests. The fact that AP exams have historically better prepared students for these exams than the AICE or IB classes speaks volumes about coverage- this is especially true for math and science coursework.  In some sense, this result was expected, as both AP and Subject tests are administered by the College Board.