AP Classes vs. College Courses: What’s the Difference?

December 11, 2014

We are constantly told in high school that AP classes are just like classes in college and we are even given credit for them in college, but how similar are they really? We had some college students share the truth about difference between AP and college classes with us today:

jaclynh: High school AP classes are very different than actual college courses. There are more exams, quizzes and assignments in high school. For most of my classes, my grade consists of one midterm, attendance/participation, and the final. There’s a lot of room for mistake and a lot of pressure to do well. College courses also have a lot more reading assignments compared to AP classes. Further, depending on the school, college classes will often be a lot larger than the classes you took in high school.

nrchhabra: The answer to this depends on the institution you apply to. If you’re attending a top university then AP classes are nothing like college courses. Top universities care more about concepts and essay writing. From my experience, AP classes focused more on multiple choice exams and small essays. Another key difference is access to the professor. In AP classes, it is much easier for the teacher to focus and communicate with you. In college, the professor has hundreds of other students therefore they can’t help you as much. 

NUWildcat: The biggest different is teacher involvement and classroom environment. College courses are different - you might not know a single person in your class. I didn’t realize how important it was in high school to have someone I could text about a difficult homework problem or to study with. Also, the teachers in high school are much more concerned about your success. If you don’t develop a relationship with your professor in college, it is unlikely they will be involved in helping you catching up.

Leave a comment and let us know if you found this helpful and let us know if you have any questions you need answers to!

Browse Successful Application Files

UChicago ‘18

Accepted to Duke, Brown, NYU, UChicago, UNC, East Carolina, NC State

I'm a class of 2018'er at UChicago studying Economics and Psychology! Super interested in start-ups and economics.
Rutgers ‘20

Accepted to Rutgers, NYU, Fordham, UMass, Colorado, MSU, Illinois, Arizona, Washington

Your local political astronaut with a passion for the prolific things in life.
Yale ‘20

Accepted to Yale, UMich, Cornell, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSD, UCSB

Here to mentor and guide you!
GA Tech ‘19

Accepted to , Illinois Tech, RIT, Clarkson, Stevens, GA Tech, Case, UMich, Illinois, Colorado, Rochester

Georgia Tech Class of 2019. Studying Computer Science. Working for Google in Summer 2016

New Posts

Duke Supplemental Essay Prompts & Examples
Duke Supplemental Essay Prompts & Examples
March 16, 2018

Thinking about applying to Duke this Fall? Check out Duke’s supplemental essay prompts and examples from the 2017-2018 application cycle.Duke Application Prompts1. Short Essay Required for Engineering Applicants: If you are applying to...

Student Reviews: Dartmouth College's Location & Culture
Student Reviews: Dartmouth College’s Location & Culture
March 12, 2018

Thinking about applying or enrolling at Dartmouth College? Look beyond Dartmouth’s Ivy League reputation and see what current Dartmouth students have to say about going to school in Hanover. 1. Dartmouth’s Campus & CultureStudent...

The 10 Stages Of Waiting For College Decisions
The 10 Stages Of Waiting For College Decisions
March 08, 2018

Nothing feels more like a judgment of who you are as a person and what you’ve accomplished than college admissions results. As you oscillate between crushing self-doubt and steeled confidence about how your application...

Load More Posts