A year ago, RPI enacted a policy that limits the number of transferable Advanced Placement credits to 32. As a graduating senior at Rensselaer, I believe that this policy undermines the efforts of hardworking potential students, limits their ability to take specialized classes, and forces them to pay more tuition dollars to retake the same introductory classes.
Despite affecting a minority of people, this code turns a blind eye to students’ previous accomplishments. For many, these credits mean more than a value of currency; they represent years of hard work. AP classes are the best (and most difficult) classes you can take at most high schools. While many schools offered three or four AP courses, I was blessed to have a high school that offered around 16. I took advantage of that opportunity by taking as many AP classes as humanly possible. To imagine being put in the shoes of someone denied a quarter of their life’s work frightens me. I have sacrificed too much to have the four years of my high school life wasted.
Not only does such a policy deny hardworking students the honor they deserve, it also hinders their ability to provide positive contributions to the RPI community. Universities are supposed to teach the courses we dream of taking, not force a lengthy review for those fortunate and dedicated enough to have taken those courses already in high school. Additionally, placing a limit on transferable AP credits restricts elective options, graduate admissions, and career development. If a student is so inclined to graduate in four years with a bachelor’s degree, RPI offers various courses to fill the void. With enough credits in a chosen specialization, one can pursue a minor—or a dual major. Better yet, one can partake in the co-terminal program to graduate with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in four years. And to those people who are dedicated enough, one can possibly graduate from RPI with a bachelor’s degree in two and a half years. (I did—well, I am going to by the end of this semester.) All of these options are available with a sizable quantity of AP credits. But, RPI’s decision to cap this reduces the possibility that any of these dreams are realizable.
Honestly, I cannot think of any good that could come from a policy like this from the perspective of a student. You could argue that having so many AP credits devalues the college experience. On the contrary, having a large amount of credits only strengthens it; it reinforces the college environment. From the Institute’s perspective, restricting the number of transferable AP credits guarantees a student must stay at RPI for at least three years. That’s a semester’s worth of tuition for a person like me! Sure you can bring up notions of missing out on the full Rensselaer experience, but isn’t it my decision to choose whether I want to spend another semester at the ’Tute when I already have a job lined up? It is my choice, not the Institute’s, that should shape my life’s goals.
I implore the Institute to, at the very least, discuss the possibility of removing the cap on transferable AP credits. It has absolutely no benefit for the students, proving more harm than good. As a side note, being able to advertise to prospective students that RPI is a school that fully accepts AP credits would be a profitable selling point. RPI has worked hard to improve its reputation around the world. Repealing this would be one giant step forward in the right direction.