Pre-AP Classes, College and AVID

Updated on May 29, 2012
M.M. asks from Rockwall, TX
14 answers

My son will be a freshman next year (eek!). When meeting with his counselor, I shared my concern that he is borderline in Pre-AP algebra (69-71 avg). She says, "I would rather see a 69 in Pre-AP than a 99 in Gen Ed. (regular math). She said, Pre-AP & AP classes carry an extra 10 points in the averaging of the GPA - what?? Then she continued to say colleges don't necessarily look at the GPA first, they look at how many AP classes were taken.

Can anyone shed some light on this 10 extra points in the GPA average (but it isn't added to the actual report card grade - it would still say 69 or 71) - I don't get that? Plus, is it true, it's better he make a lower grade in the Pre-AP/AP classes than the regular classes? That doesn't seem fair to the people making 99's in those classes. And, are colleges really looking at AP classes before GPA?

I was never in any advanced classes. I was a regular ol' A/B student with the occasional C - so was my husband. So all of this is new to me. My son took Pre-AP math in 6th grade and 3 Pre-AP classes each of his 7th & 8th grade years. He has 4 Pre-AP classes planned for his freshman year. He will be in marching band. He is in the National Junior Honor Society. He is a Boy Scout (Star rank). He doesn't play sports.

On to the AVID question. He was invited to register for AVID in high school. Now, we do not fit the criteria for AVID on any level but he was invited and it sounds beneficial. What I mean by criteria is this (according to the AVID website): "AVID targets students in the academic middle - B, C, and even D students - who have the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard. These are students who are capable of completing rigorous curriculum but are falling short of their potential. Typically, they will be the first in their families to attend college, and many are from low-income or minority families. AVID pulls these students out of their unchallenging courses and puts them on the college track: acceleration instead of remediation."

Ok, I stated above he has been taking Pre-AP classes ("challenging courses") since 6th grade and making A's in all of them but math. He has known he is going to college since he started school. Almost everyone in our family has graduated from college. We aren't a minority or low-income. So, as it is written, we do not fit any of the criteria - so it seemed odd he was invited. But that doesn't bother me b/c it sounds like a good program. They say he will have access to college tutors for any subject twice a week, learn organizational & study skills (which he does not have), and get prep help on SAT/ACT.

My question: Has anyone had a kid go thru AVID? Was it beneficial? I've heard from one parent it wasn't and don't know anyone else that has been in it. I don't want him to get into it and it isn't what it is cracked up to be and he could have taken Speech & Health instead. In other words, I don't want to end up being just a study hall.

Any information on any of this would be greatly appreciated. I'm so sorry this ended up so long!

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much Ladies! You have been a huge help and I feel so much better about his freshman year. It sounds like we are on the right track...let's hope it stays that way :) Thank you again!!!!!!!!

More Answers


answers from Tulsa on

AP classes do add a point to your GPA. So in a regular class, an A would be 4 points, a B 3 points, etc. An AP class means an A will be 5 points, a B 4 points, etc. The grades will remain the same, but the GPA weight is higher. I graduated with a 4.13 GPA because of the AP classes I took. Never hurts to have a high GPA.

Also with AP classes, there is a test you can take and possibly get college credit for the high school class. The tests are scored 1-5 and usually a 4 or 5 will get you the college credit. Sometimes colleges will take a 3. You have to pay for the test, but I was fortunate that our school district paid for ours.

Colleges are going to look at honor courses, pre-AP, AP, etc. So, I would encourage your son to try to take as many of those as he can, assuming he can handle it. I don't agree that a C/D in an AP class is better than a 99 in a basic course. If your son can get at least a solid B/C or higher, then go for the honor/AP courses.

Sorry, I don't know anything about AVID, although it sounds like it could help him.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I teach AP Language (AP English III), and I'm a certified AVID teacher as well, although I don't teach AVID. I've been to multiple AVID institutes.

Pre-AP and AP classes are excellent for preparing students for college, and the 10 point bonus is nice for boosting the GPA, but one thing to remember is that if your son gets a 65 in a pre-AP class, he still fails the class. A failing grade is a failing grade, period. The 10 point bonus only helps the GPA, not the actual grade. AP classes (not pre-AP) can also save you money if your son takes and passes the AP test at the end of each course, because he can get college credit and then won't have to take the course in college.

As for AVID, it is a wonderful program if it is run properly. If it is not, it can be a complete waste of time. It varies from school to school.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Yes! AVID will give him a LOT of support. It will actually give him a step up..
They will teach him how to study, they will offer tutoring, they will help when it is time to take the SAT, ACT and apply to colleges searching for grants and scholarships.. This is great that they noticed he would be a good fit. They make sure these students understand how interviews work, have them attend college visits.. Our daughter did not qualify, but some of her classmates did and EVERY one of them is still in college!

Yes, we always told our daughter, we would rather she have a lower grade in AP classes than all AA's in regular classes. The difference is that the advanced classes are taught at a faster rate. they are accelerated on all levels.

To give you an idea.. Our daughter was not in the top 10% of her class, but was accepted to all 9 of the top tier colleges she applied to. She had taken all pre AP and AP classes in her courses.. she did make great grades and had a really good GPA. She was also a well rounded student.. She did extra curricular activities, was an active volunteers, Participated in campus groups.. worked small jobs... All of this all the way through high school.. This is what colleges want.

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answers from Tyler on

Every district varies, in our district you receive 5 pts for pre-ap and 10 pts for AP. The object is to reward the students taking more academically challenging courses vs. the students taking on level and scoring 100's across the board. If all classes were weighed equally, why would any student struggle with rigorous academia, it gives those students motivation.

I have not taught or had a student in AVID. However, I have subbed in AVID classes and I support the program and believe it is very beneficial. The kids come into their AVID class period with any questions they have in any of their core courses and they work with a peer group to answer the question and understand the concepts. It is very structured, one student at a time can get up in front of their group (abt 5 or 6 students) and they follow a very structured and supervised activity to work through the problem. If they get stuck on a problem, the AVID teacher will reteach the concepts. The purpose is a deeper understanding of the task and mastery of the skill, and it really is effective.

I know the program was designed and advertised for the first generation college students from a family, but please don't let that deter you. It is an ultimate study hall and it beats any other easy A elective. It could be the boost your student needs to achieve higher grades in high school. The most common comment I hear from the AVID students on the campus where I work is that it is their favorite class and very worth the time. Consider it as a class period for you son to get his homework completed with teachers to help him.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You've got some great answers already. I just want to throw in my (long-winded two cents)

As a teacher, a parent, and a student who won full ride academic scholarships to every school she applied to... I would say your son should be taking the most challenging courses in which he can DO WELL. 69-71 average is not doing well and it is not better than, nor comparable to a 99 in a regular class of the same course.

I think the 10 points she's talking about is 10% (on an out of 100 formula) or 1 GPA point (on a 4 point scale) . Honors and AP classes are frequently inflated in GPA calculations to reflect the rigor of the course, but you have to be passing (so a B is counted like an 8 A and an A is counted as MORE than an a). Typically you have to have a C or better to take advantage of that, though.

Colleges don't actually care how many AP classes you TAKE. They care how many AP exams you PASS. Pre-AP isn't AP. It's like "honors." It'll boost the GPA and looks good if he does well... but a D is a D.

AVID is a fantastic program, but (as you said) it is designed for middle of the road kids, not high flyers. It's mission is to take kids who might not make it into or through college and get them there. If your son is already on an AP track he should not even qualify. If the program at his school isn't following the program in terms of student selection, I'd be concerned that they aren't quite doing it in other respects as well. (I've seen schools choose high achievers, use the AVID class as a studyhall and then say "oh look how well our AVID students are doing! They all go to college." but they picked kids who were ALREADY college-bound).

Hope this helps.


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answers from Austin on

Most schools have class "rankings" .... this isn't based solely on their GPA..... usually in the handbook it will give you the grade, and the points the student receives based on whether it is core or GT/Pre-AP courses.... And yes, a "B" in a Pre-AP class usually carries the same or more points than an "A" in a regular core class. This encourages students to take the more challenging classes without worrying about their GPA.

Different schools do the figuring differently....

If he is willing to do the work, encourage him to stay with the Pre-AP classes...there are usually fewer discipline problems in classes like those. He will also be challenged more, thus hopefully he will learn more.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

Wow, what you wrote about AVID is not what is written on my younger son's AVID paper. It says nothing about low income or first kid in the family to go to college. It does say your first sentence. It says that the goal is for a student and parents to aspire to a 4 year college. It says that the student needs to take at least one AP course and one honors level course.

I am astonished that the rest of that verbage is on your form. I am thrilled that they are considering my son for AVID (unfortunately I had to ask after I heard about it) because they didn't bring it up. He needs the organization skills it brings to the table and the homework support that the question and answer sessions provide. And he will get a grade for organizing all his other classes, AND for being ready for the tutoring sessions by having done his homework. It's like double the pleasure, double the fun (if that makes any sense to you!) I only wish I had known about it 2 years ago. I feel like he really missed out.

No, AVID is NOT just a study hall. The parents I've met whose children are in AVID are very pleased. Since your son isn't organized, I'm sure he could benefit from it. And he probably will have to take Health sometime during his 4 years in school, so don't worry about him missing it in 9th grade. There's time for it in his elective schedule.

Anyway, I'd forget about the part about minorities and first in college and all that. Your child can benefit from the program - I'll tell you that 10th grade is harder than 9th, and if you don't do AVID, you may wish very much that you had. (I wish very much for my younger son that I had known about it before high school. Perhaps the middle school thought he didn't need it, but they were wrong.)


2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I've never heard of AVID.

As far as GPA.. Each school system does things differently. Mine is very confusing as I have 2 daughters in the same high school and recently they changed the ciriculum, graduation requirements and the way GPA is calculated. So in theroy they could take all the same classes, get the same grades and have different GPA's.

I've never heard of pre AP, as AP means advanced placement and is a college level course. I'm guessing "pre AP" would be equivilent to an honors course, or as you mentioned a more challenging course.

In general the perfect GPA is 4.0 (as I mentioned each school district is different). So if your child took 5 classes and had a "A" in 2 and a "B" in 3, the GPA would be 3.4 (the A's are worth 4, and the B's worth 3). If he were taking all advanced/honors, ect type classes and had the same grades, his GPA would be 4.4, because a A is now worth 10 points higher and would be worth 5. This is actually a very fair way of determing GPA, because a regular class in general has less homework, covers less material over the course of the year and it's much easier to get a A in that class, then in an advanced class.

We've attended some college fairs and talked to some people in admissions. As you know, each college is different, but all of them highly recommend taking higher level courses. We've been told they look at your transcript which includes the classes you've taken and the grades you've received, not necessarily your GPA, although it's considered. . Other things that are considered are your SAT/ACT scores, class ranking,college essay, community service/involvement, and employment.

You may want to visit There's lots of valuable information.

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answers from Boston on

Typically, GPA/transcript accounts for 50% of the entire college admissions "package." The other 50% is made up of a combination of standardized tests, extra-curricular activities and work experience, the essay(s) and letters of recommendation. As others have mentioned, honors and AP classes carry higher points. In my high school, we were on a 4.0 scale. In a standard class, an A was worth 4.0 points, honors were 4.5 and AP were 5.0. This is how the extra rigor of these courses is reflected in the GPA. All that said, in my school system, students have to qualify to get into AP and honors classes. A student who earns a B- or lower in an honors class will be dropped to standard the following year. I believe that to get into AP classes, a student has to have a B+ or better in an honors class the prior year. Students who can't keep up with the honors or AP workload are not allowed into those classes. In our school system, a C- average would certainly not qualify for continuing at an advanced level, but we are in a school system where we joke that if you want small class sizes, stay out of honors because there are too many honors students.

We don't have the AVID program in my state but it sounds like a great opportunity - I can't imagine a down side of enrolling your son in that program.

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answers from Denver on

I have read a few of your answers and can only agree that AVID is a good thing! How supportive and involved the AVID program is... is usually dependent on the teachers. There will be differences based on whether there is one teacher/ core doing the program if it is school wide. You can't go wrong with having your child take part in AVID!

As for GPA and AP classes. YES take the AP classes! They do carry more weight! In our high schools there is the opportunity to get college credit while taking AP classes. It will depend on what school you apply to as for how much weight they carry but it is something competitive colleges look at. And, it is good experience.
I am a teacher and have experience with both these items... let me know if you have further questions!

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answers from St. Louis on

This does not should like a universal program, either of them and the GPA scoring. Colleges look at ranking and GPA. I don't think my kids AP or 1818 courses made a bit of difference. 1818 are unique to St Louis but are the same as AP.

No school here offers pre-AP not have I heard of them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Everything that you read about AVID is pretty much the criteria. I work in the school district. The website is accurate as far as targeting students that will be the first in their families to attend college. The best thing to do is contact the counselor. In high school, most counselors are assigned by
alphabetically. You will have the same counselor for the 4 years in high school. If there is a class that your student could take instead of AVID that would work towards credits to graduate, I would have the schedule changed.

As far as AP have to do well in AP in order for it to be worth your/your students while. Just like one parent mentioned before, a D is a D, even in AP. One thing that you need to remember or maybe you are not aware of is that the band in high school is very demanding.
Your freshman year is full of adjustments. You had mentioned that your student does not play sports, however the marching band is practicing before the football boys show up in the morning and are still marching after football has showered and gone home in the evening.
AP is great for your GPA as long as you keep your grades up. The AP classes are challenging.........and that is a good thing! However, that being said, if your student is failing an AP class, but could be making A's in a regular course, you may want to drop the AP and have them changed to a regular class. We had to do that for our son who is an athlete. We pulled him out of AP English and now he has an A.

Don't be afraid of contacting your counselor or teachers. Teachers appreciate communication and one thing that you will discover as a freshman parent is that freshman are so busy adjusting and being involved, they don't always tell you everything about what is going on in their classes.

Good luck! High School will be a great experience for your student!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Sending you a virtual hug. I, too, have a soon to be freshman, and I just picked up the packet today of courses. It used to be so SIMPLE.... (sigh)...

Let's see.. regular classes vs. Pre-AP classes, vs. Honors classes vs. gifted. Ummmm can someone explain all this to me?! I was told this morning, gifted is more intense in the subject than AP, but only AP lets you test for partial college credit. So, why would anyone take the gifted class?? and what is different between either of those and Honors? Ugh...

Here's something I noticed in your post though, regarding AVID: "...have access to college tutors for any subject twice a week, learn organizational and study skills, get prep help on SAT/ACT..." Kinda makes it sound like many things--- you get out of it what you put into it. If your acquaintances' kids didn't get much out of it, perhaps they didn't take advantage of all they COULD have. Maybe they just showed up for that class, like any other, and didn't do anything else that was AVAILABLE.
I'd ask the guidance counselor specifically and if you can, the teacher(s) of those AVID classes. Or whomever organizes the tutoring sessions, for example...

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answers from Dallas on

My DD is just finishing up her jr year of AVID and also does not fit the main profile; however, she was performing below her ability because of her dyslexia, and AVID targets students who are performing below their ability, even if they are not low income or prospective 1st gen college students. She has loved the AVID program. It has given her a tight-knit group and many leadership opportunities she would not otherwise have had or have taken. Next year she'll be the president of AVID at her HS in Plano. She's had considerable practice taking college-bound tests, lots of field trips to college including those as far away as 4 hrs, a leadership camp, college-level study and note-taking skills that will put her ahead when she does get to college, tutors for her weak subjects, and a supportive social group. That said, it was more worthwhile in 9th and 10th grade because the teachers were far better. In 11th, her teacher is a coach and brand new to AVID and it has become more of a study hall, but she has stayed in it because there are still things she benefits from enormously. She has taken advantage of the AVID scholarships offered by PISD to take summer school classes at no cost (so long as she stays all 4 yrs in AVID) so that she can get things like health and PE out of the way. PISD allows AVID to count for their speech requirement, so that helps, too; I don't know about Rockwall. My dd is shy and AVID has helped her come out of her shell and become more of a leader. She would have already been taking honors and AP classes but the AVID study skills and tutorials made more of them possible, and with better results. Our middle school often invites a number of students who don't fit the AVID stereotype because it does not have a large population of students who both fit the usual criteria and want to commit to the program. At the other middle school that feeds into our HS, there is a much larger poor & minority population with parents who did not go to college, so she would not have been as likely to be picked had she gone to that school.

1 mom found this helpful
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