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Campbell column: AP courses good prep for college

CHINA GROVE ó South Rowan High School Principal Dr. Don Knox is tired of seeing students receive rejection letters from the college of their choice.
ěWhen we called the schools and asked why this was happening we heard the same common theme ó these students did not show enough academic challenge in their transcripts,î he said. ěSo, I decided that we need to do something to offer more students information about our (Advanced Placement) program and why they need to consider taking these classes.î
Knox did just that Tuesday night, hosting the districtís first AP Symposium.
He brought in his advising faculty, former AP students, a college professor and a college recruiter to discuss the benefits of taking AP classes.
Dave Meredith, senior assistant director of admissions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told students and parents that the rigor of high school curriculum is one of the most important things on his radar.
ěYou guys get way more obsessed about GPAs than college admissions do,î he said. ěYouíll be much more impressive to folks like me if you have really hard classes and Bís than easy classes with Aís.î
Katelan Frye, a 2007 graduate of South Rowan, said taking AP courses gave her a competitive edge when entering school at Carolina.
ěEvery college wants to see that you want to do better,î she said. ěThey want to see that you want to push yourself to the next level.î
Matt Stevenson, another ë07 graduate of South, said taking AP classes helped him adjust to the expectations at North Carolina State.
ěIt all starts here with the initiative and drive to better yourself,î he said. ěStep up and do the work.î
Leah Robinson, an ë09 graduate of South, said taking AP courses helped her transition to Lander University.
ěThe time management skills that it taught me definitely carried on with me to college,î she said.
Knox said itís also important for students and parents to know about the financial perks of AP courses.
ěThe student can receive college credit after passing the AP exam …, he said. ěThis can save a parent hundreds and even thousands of dollars in college tuition.î
Maybe Knox is onto something in his quest to get students to take more challenging courses.
In high school, AP courses challenged me to think outside the box. They pushed me to read and write more. They gave me the opportunity to ask questions and participate in debate.
All of these things prepared me for my first days at East Carolina University, giving me the confidence to speak up rather than shrink away.
AP courses also taught me balance. Juggling tough coursework, tennis, school clubs, a part-time job and a social life got tough, but I always managed.
I took that juggling act to college, working two part-time jobs and attending class full time.
AP classes didnít change my life, but they certainly enhanced it.
And although the classes arenít for everyone, Knox is right to look for ways to get students to step outside their comfort zones.
Without challenges how can anyone grow?
Sarah Campbell is the education reporter for the Salisbury Post. She can be reached at 704-797-7683.

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