MARGOT WHEATLEY, Staff Writer —
The phrase, “No GE requirement fulfilled with listed course,” is a common occurrence on Denison’s Advanced Placement Chart. In fact, 15 out of the 38 AP courses that Denison accepts credit for mention that no general education (GE) requirement is fulfilled with the listed course (e.g. “Introductory Topics in History, Introductory Topics in Chemistry, and more). These “Introductory Topics” classes are not courses at Denison.
In 9 out of 38 AP courses, the equivalent course at Denison will not count toward the required courses for a student pursuing a major or minor in that particular department. While students do receive credit towards their overall degree if they score a 4 or 5 on an AP exam, that is usually the only credit they are given.
To learn more about AP credit at Denison, I looked at the Academic Policies on Denison’s website. I found the same information as I did on the equivalency chart, but more generalized. The first line of the section says, “First-Year Students and Transfer Students who score a 4 or 5 on a College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) Advanced Placement Examination will usually receive academic credit for their scores.” This document also affirms that only in “a few instances” students receive credit for GE or major/minor requirements.
Take psychology for example. A 4 or 5 on the AP Psychology Exam will give a student credit for PSYC 096, or Introductory Topics in Psychology. However, the student will receive credit for neither PSYC 100, nor a GE requirement. On the first day of my PSYC 100 class, the professor asked the students why we were interested in psychology. A decent amount of the class, including myself, said it was because they had taken a psychology class, usually AP Psychology, in high school.
Denison’s AP Credit policy is contradictory to what high school students are told about AP classes in high school. While students who score a 4 or 5 receive credit towards their degree, which is what they are told in high school, they are also told in high school that they will be able to place out of classes. With the exception of most foreign languages and a few sciences, they are not able to do this.
Most public university systems, like at the University of North Carolina, allow for their students to place out of several classes. Although it is common for students to take advantage of this policy, some students regret doing so because they struggled taking higher level courses. This is so because many students take AP classes all four years of high school, allowing them to place out of college classes during their freshman, sophomore, and junior years. The students will likely not remember all of the concepts from the classes they took before their senior year of high school.
As a liberal arts institution, it makes sense that Denison usually does not allow students to place out of courses other than languages, as the goal for a liberal arts institution is to diversify a student’s knowledge of subject areas. After all, that’s what the general education program is all about.
But the AP Credit policy at Denison isn’t wrong, nor should it necessarily be changed. The university needs to work toward being more transparent with both prospective and current students about the credit they will receive for their work in high school so that students can make the best college decision for themselves academically.
Margot Wheatley ‘24 is an English creative writing major concentrating in narrative journalism from Kernersville, NC.