Advanced Placement Can Equal Advanced Opportunities

As the last of the Advanced Placement (AP) students write their examinations this week, I thought it would be helpful to help those who are not familiar with the AP programme to get some insight.

An AP course is for selected students who show the academic potential and a subject-specific interest that would allow them to learn at a higher level than secondary school. Students study the course material with a Mentor faculty member throughout the year and in May, a worldwide, common examination is administered by the US College Board (the same people who run the SATs). Students who earn a 4.0 or 5.0 on the test can use the results to earn a first-year university credit in that subject. Our students take advantage of this in two ways; they can move on to some second year courses in their major right away once they get to university OR they use their preview of the first year course material to gain an advantage over the rest of their first-year university classmates…especially if they are competing for a spot in a very competitive programme like medicine or engineering.

A very high percentage of our students get that 4.0 or 5.0 (we are awaiting the results of the 2014 tests) but it is interesting to follow the university paths of those students. In just the 2012 AP classes alone, we have the story of Michael, who is spending his summer in the department of neuroscience at the University of Toronto doing research with a lead professor. From that same year is Jennifer, who received an NSERC USRA (which is the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Undergraduate Student Research Award) based on grade point average and subject interest. She has a 16-week grant to work with a McMaster University professor of physics and astronomy looking at membrane and protein dynamics through x-ray diffraction. Not to be outdone, Andrew is “living the dream” as far as the stereotypical university male goes. He is spending his summer in Sweden studying the influence of hop addition techniques on flavour compounds in beer. And he is getting paid, too!

We sometimes think as parents that our kids’ academic life events are a long way off (moving to the Main Campus, Grade 8 graduation, a high school prom) and in this case, we have 2nd-year students working on research projects that we believe are usually reserved for master’s and doctoral students. Because of the head start our students gain here, the future is not as far off as parents of our graduates think!

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

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