by Alayna Vernon

My experience with AP® in high school was a whirlwind for which I was completely unprepared. You can read all about it in my article How I (Barely) Survived 7 AP® Exams in High School. Even though my experience with AP® was challenging and hectic, I didn’t realize how many advantages it would give me in college.

When I enrolled at the University of South Florida (Go Bulls!), I was able to jump right in with 15 credit hours my first semester. As a student who loves a good challenge, I signed up for the Honors College at USF, taking all of the advanced courses I could get my hands on.

As early as orientation, I realized that the madness of my overloaded AP® schedule was finally paying off!

All of us incoming freshmen had to register for our first semester classes from the Honors College office, and I discovered just how much freedom I had with my schedule. Unlike most of my peers, I didn’t have to take freshman writing requirements, which meant I could jump right into more interesting courses right away.

Once classes began, it became apparent to me that my AP® English Literature teacher had done an amazing job of preparing me for all of the college-level essays I had to write. She’d made me write 52 full-length essays over the course of one school year—so by the time I got to college, writing essays quickly became second nature.

The skills I’d acquired in AP® courses were benefiting me far beyond my old high school classrooms, and I’m not sure what else would have prepared me any better.

I actually had a friend who took a similar (non-AP®) course at our local college while we were in high school, and he never wrote as many in-depth essays as we did in AP® English Literature. Also, his professors didn’t take the time to pull him aside and explain how he could improve. The study skills my AP® English teacher taught me—especially when faced with such a high volume of information—became vital when faced with tests, midterms, and final exams in college.

Finally, in the semester before graduation, I wasn’t in a panic like a lot of my peers, who were desperately trying to meet all of their graduation requirements in writing, science, and math.

The credits my university had given me based on my AP® Exam scores saved me time (classes I didn’t have to take), money (credit hours I didn’t have to pay for, plus books that I didn’t need to buy), and lots of stress! I had the luxury of picking more classes that I wanted or needed for my major rather than fighting for seats in courses that everyone has to take to graduate. I loved my senior year and graduated feeling happy that I’d taken AP® courses in high school.