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You’re probably familiar with Advanced Placement courses—you may even be enrolled in one or three right now! Advanced Placement courses offered in high schools present an opportunity for students to take rigorous subject exams for college credit.
This college credit can be immensely helpful when it comes to majoring, minoring, double-majoring or even triple-majoring in college degree programs.
Some of the most popular exam subjects in STEM taken by high schoolers are Calculus (AB/BC), Physics (AB/BC), Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Science. These subjects tend to cover subjects considered “gen-ed” science courses in college, which lay the foundation for the rest of the coursework within a major.
Many students enter college with several AP credits in these subjects. Especially in a major as challenging as engineering, credits earned previous to enrollment in college can cut down on the number of science-based courses students must take at one time, expediting degree completion. Despite this, many of those same students enter their college engineering courses feeling overwhelmed and underprepared for the material specific to an engineering course. This leads to a higher rate of students who switch out of STEM majors, even though the academic interest is there.
The good news: lately, there has been buzz from CollegeBoard, the company which administers AP Exams, about adding an AP Engineering exam. This exam would be specific to engineering terms, equations, and principles not covered in the other STEM-related AP subjects. In a recent interview, the Director of Engineering Education for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers came out in favor of this change, saying that he thinks this extra preparation would help future engineers stay on track.
Just last December, CollegeBoard announced the addition of another STEM-related AP course and exam called Computer Science Principles. According to their website, the course is meant as an introduction to computing, its applications, and its impacts on our modern society. The company hopes the course will boost interest in computer science topics among young students. The official launch for the course is fall 2016.
With Computer Science Principles, CollegeBoard is working toward an early foundation of computer skills that would be needed in computing majors. With the addition of an AP Engineering test, more students could feel empowered and capable within engineering majors. Nothing is finalized yet though, so until then, check out the best STEM-related electives to consider!