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Monday, June 13, 2011

FAQ: AP English

We have been receiving a few questions about our new Advanced Placement course, AP English: Literature and Composition; What Good is a Good Story. Just in case you have similar questions, we are posting them here. Please feel free to leave a comment below or email us if you have further questions. We would also love to hear your suggestions if you have them.

Q: My son plans to take your AP English class. Can you tell me how many college credits he would earn if passing the College Board?
A: Credit is determined by the accepting college, based on the student's score. If your child has one or more colleges in mind, we suggest contacting them to ask if they accept AP credit and how much is given. Here is the college board's link to AP credit acceptance policy at most colleges and universities. It is always wise to contact the university, as policies do change. Note that the college board applet also links to the schools' websites and AP policies.

Basically, there are two things taking an AP class can do for a high school student. First, it prepares him or her for the AP exam. That exam gives students the opportunity to demonstrate that they are competent in college level work in the subject matter. A 3 is considered a passing score. Many schools give some credit for a three; most give 3 to 6 hours of credit for a score of 4 or 5 on either of the English exams. Some selective schools use AP scores not for credit, but for placement.

Q: What is the value in taking an AP course?
A: As discussed in the previous answer, college credit can be earned. This can save a parent and student a substantial amount of tuition as well as open the possibility of taking more challenging courses.

The second advantage of taking an AP course is its value in demonstrating the level of your curriculum. Many universities want to see that applicants have taken the most challenging courses available, and they know AP classes are challenging. particularly if you are interested in selective college admissions, the AP designation on the transcript is can be as valuable as the score/advanced credit option.

Mrs. Gill is a dual enrollment teacher for English in a Catholic high school as well as an AP teacher. In her opinion, AP is the superior program.

Q: I plan to enroll in the AP English course. Can I get the book list so that I can begin reading over the summer?
A: Yes, you can find it HERE.

Q: My daughter is enrolled in MODG (Mother of Divine Grace). MODG doesn't offer AP credits at this time. Can she take the AP course while still being enrolled in MODG? Does Homeschool Connections provide official transcripts? Thank you so much.
A: We do not provide official transcripts though we would be happy to supply MODG with your child's grades and credits on a request basis (records are kept for 180 days from course completion). We are not a full service home study school like MODG. Instead, we offer individual courses. We get a number of MODG as well as Kolbe and Seton students. You should always get approval from your consultant first so that you can get credit through MODG and it shows on your transcript from them.

Q: Hi, maybe I missed this but are any of your high school courses set up for duel enrollment college credits? Thank you very much
A: No, not at this time. We are currently considering working with a Catholic university to offer dual enrollment in the future.

Also note that we do offer AP English (Advanced Placement) which offers college credit through the College Board. At the end of the school year, the students takes the AP English (Literature and Composition) test locally. Once they pass, they receive the credit through the College Board. We are currently working to add more AP courses, including AP Latin, in the future.

Here is information on the 1st semester of our AP English course:

Here is general information from the College Board on how AP works:

Q: My son has taken some courses with you and has been very pleased. I saw the AP Lit class for the fall and became very excited. It is exactly the type of class I was looking for ... AP lit through a Catholic lens. However, after reading about the work load and time commitment involved, I realized there is no way he would have time for this course. I personally believe the commitment is a bit unreasonable especially for most high school junior and seniors most of whom would be college bound (SAT prep, college apps, etc that need to be done as well) .

I am just communicating my disappointment in the hopes that in the future you might offer the same course but with less time involved. Thanks for listening.

A: Our AP course has been reviewed and approved by the College Board. They require a very high level of commitment. If we do not meet their criteria then we cannot officially designate a course as AP.

However, we are always working to make sure all students are served. I believe that we can offer a similar high school experience with less commitment. By taking Dr. Russell's literature courses along with Dr. Gotcher's writing courses, a junior or senior will receive solid Catholic teaching in the area of literature and composition. The work load would less but still very high quality. Plus it would still prepare students for college (sans the AP credit).

Q: Can one take the AP recorded (vs. live) class and still be eligible for taking the exam?
A: Anyone can take the exam. The question is whether or not a student will be properly prepared without taking the course. One student we know of, did not take an AP US History course, and was able to score a 4 on the exam, enough to get credit at a fairly selective university (USC). So, it is possible.

With the recorded course, you would still have access to the recorded classes, homework assignments, and support materials. The parent and student would need to be self motivated. Also, instructor feedback and peer interaction would not necessarily be available and this is important to truly getting the AP as well as college-level experience. We are currently working on a program to provide grading services for our recorded courses (for a separate fee). So, by the time this course is made available as a Recorded Course it is possible we will be able to provide that service for you.

Aside from the test, taking the course itself can help with college admissions. Colleges like to see that students have sought a challenging path, and they know what AP delivers. To some degree, it is more advantageous to be able to have AP on your transcript than it is to take and pass the exam. Using an example of another graduate, who attends the United States Military Academy (West Point), no advanced credit was given. However, taking a full range of AP courses was doubtlessly helpful in gaining admission to this highly selective school.

Q: Which is better, AP or ACC?
A: We personally like AP better than ACC (advanced college credit). By forcing students to perform on an exam, AP guarantees that they are capable of college level discourse. ACC courses can vary widely in content, quality and level. The AP test runs about $80, usually quite a bit cheaper than the charge of most ACC programs.

Q: Will you be offering any more AP courses in the near future???
A: We hope so. If there is a demand for more AP courses in other subjects, then we will begin the process of creating such courses. It will depend on enrollment next semester as well as feedback from parents and students.

Q: Have you heard which good Catholic higher learning schools might accept AP?
A: Most colleges offer credit for the AP English exams. Many of Mrs. Gill's past students, for example, have gotten 6 hours credit at U Dallas for scoring a 4 or a 5 on the AP Lit exam.

The link below is the college board's search utility for college credit, but policies change and can vary from department to department, so it is best to check with your university.

Q: Hi. My daughter will be a homeschooled junior next school year. She is very interested in taking the AP English course on Homeschool Connections next year. We see that you require special permission from the instructor for those who are not 17 yet. She will be turning 16 this June. She has not been moved ahead a year, she is just on the younger side of her grade.

She has taken several out-of-home classes. As a freshman, she received permission to take a literary analysis class taught by a Ph.D. candidate. In that class she received an A. The year before, she took a class from a published author who teaches many writing and literature classes to homeschoolers in our area. There she earned an A and was told by the instructor that she was writing at college level and "won" his award for best student out of all of his classes, beating out seniors. She reads Shakespeare for fun!

I understand that the issue may be about sensitive subjects. She took a class this year, a history/lit combined class out of the home. The teacher did point out issues in several of the books (for instance, All Quiet on the Western Front comes to mind, and there were others). 

And as far as the load of reading, this is a child who "gets in trouble" for reading "too long". She would welcome the "it's for my class!!!!" response!

A: Our chief concern about younger students in the AP literature class has to do with the moral complexity of some of the works. The capstone novel at the end of the course is The Power and the Glory by Grahan Greene, a beautiful novel about mercy and Divine Providence, but one that can be troubling to young people due to the reprehensible character of the protagonist, who is a priest. Parents need to know from the outset that some of the ideas are complex and mature. In our philosophy, you are the best ones to judge whether or not an exposure could be damaging or premature. We would trust to your judgment.

In our experience, younger students also struggle with analysis, but it may be the case that your daughter is an exception. If you do not object to the content of the course, she is free to take it and we will look forward to working with her.

Q: This AP English class is exactly what my daughter needs for the fall. I do have one concern: What is the Thursday time commitment? (She has theater 6:30-8:30 Central Time)

I spoke with University of St. Thomas Houston and U Dallas already regarding AP English, and this course will be a good match. These are the schools my daughter is most interested in attending.

A: AP English meets for a total of 30 weeks over 2 semesters. Tuesdays are lecture and Thursdays are lab/discussion.

We could try out the class for your daughter because the discussion/lab will have a strong online component. She could participate in our discussions, just not in real time. We are willing to try to make it work.

Though students gain a great deal from interaction with one another, the instructor will only occasionally grade those discussions. Most of the students' preparation is through reading and writing and your daughter's writing will be graded and commented on by Mrs. Gill. For that reason, this could work. We would love to help your daughter get college credit for English.

If this ends up not being a fit for you, then another option is Dr. Russell's literature classes on Tuesdays at 10 am (Eastern). His are purely lecture with quizzes + answer keys provided. Dr. Russell taught literature at Franciscan University and was head of the literature department at Ava Maria so his lectures are quite insightful. His 2011/2012 Homeschool Connections courses are recommended for 11th, 12th, and college level.

Other courses that would be on the challenge level would be Miss Ashour's theology courses, Mr. Rivet's Advanced American Government, Dr. Gotcher's Writing for College and Dr. Rioux's Early Modern Philosophers.