Starting next fall, Dartmouth College will no longer award credits to incoming students with high scores on AP exams. However, it will continue to grant advance standing to students who enter with AP work in certain subjects. Click here for more info.
While the Dartmouth website does not provide a rationale, Hakan Tell, the chairperson of the faculty group behind the decision, recently told Inside Higher Ed that the feeling at Dartmouth is that APs are “good courses,” but “not the same as a Dartmouth credit.”
According to Tell, the decision was supported by the results of an unpublished study. Few details of the study are publically available, but, according to Inside Higher Ed, it entailed administering a test based on the final exam for Dartmouth’s Introductory Psychology course to over 100 incoming Dartmouth freshmen, all of whom had previously earned a score of 5 on the AP Psychology exam. Ninety percent of those students failed the Dartmouth exam, though it is unknown whether they knew about it prior to their arrival on campus. (Even if they did, however, a high score would seem unlikely after three months of summer vacation.)
Dartmouth is not the only elite college to stop awarding credits for AP courses—e.g., Penn stopped doing so in 2005. However, the real issue isn’t the effect of eliminating credits for APs at residential colleges such as Dartmouth and Penn. (At such schools students pay a flat tuition per term—regardless of how many credits they take—and almost always attend for four years regardless of the number of credits with which they enter.) Rather, the issue is whether the decisions of such institutions will influence the decisions of less-exclusive schools—places at which many students attend part time, often while working a full-time job, and pay per credit. For students at such schools, earning three or four credits through a $90 AP test represents a considerable savings.
Click here to read more on Inside Higher Ed.