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The role that Advanced Placement (AP) credit plays in an honors education is increasingly significant. More high school students have the opportunity to take AP courses and successfully complete the AP exams. As a result, they arrive on campus with credits toward some and often many of their early core-focused college requirements. This widespread bypass of early requirements often leaves honors programs scampering to find strategies for a robust experience in the early years of an honors education.
This essay emerges from our experience at Northeastern University, where the number of AP credits applied to our undergraduate degrees has increased dramatically over the last several years. We have developed a number of curricular responses to this phenomenon, and, in order to understand how students perceive the role of AP credits and plan to use them, we developed a survey instrument administered to our fall 2007 entering class.
This paper has several goals. First, as a backdrop for the larger discussion, we present a brief description of our honors program and an overview of AP credit. Second, we present the findings from our survey and a series of comments we received regarding AP credit through the NCHC listserv. Third, we situate the discussion within the larger concerns and challenges of honors education. The essay argues that the impact of AP credit directly affects many honors programs by presenting challenges to general education requirements as they are currently conceived and delivered at colleges and universities.