Registrar to restrict AP, IB credits
By Min Kyung Jeon
Published on Wednesday, January 9, 2013
The College’s new policy to stop accepting pre-matriculation credits for incoming students may impact students who wish to save on tuition by graduating early. The change, voted upon by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on Nov. 12, will take effect beginning with the Class of 2018, according to Registrar Meredith Braz.
The College previously accepted students’ qualifying scores on Advanced Placement, A-Level and International Baccalaureate examinations as credits, exemptions and placements in some subjects. The faculty has been considering a vote to eliminate such pre-matriculation credits for about 10 years, according to the Committee on Instruction Chair Hakan Tell, who brought the proposal before the faculty.
The faculty based their affirmative vote on concerns that courses completed in high school do not equal Dartmouth coursework, Tell said.
With more students taking advanced high school courses in recent years, the faculty has been “concerned that the academic rigor of our own programs was being diluted,” Tell said.
Eliminating pre-matriculation credits may also encourage students to take more upper-level classes at Dartmouth, he said.
“We really want the students to do more in-depth research and more independent level work with the faculty,” Tell said.
Although students in the Class of 2018 and beyond will no longer be able to apply their pre-matriculation credits to their degrees, Braz said that the flexibility of the Dartmouth Plan will continue to enable future students to graduate in fewer terms.
“Some students do not take as many breaks but complete their degrees in a shorter period of time, which the D-Plan allows,” Braz said. “And students use a variety of methods to achieve degree completion.”
For example, since students can take up to three four-course terms without having to pay extra tuition, some students might take two four-course terms to graduate in 11 terms.
Other methods include taking a four-course transfer term or using two pre-matriculation transfer courses.
Braz said that it is difficult to know precisely how the new policy will affect future students.
“Advanced Placement credits sometimes contribute to the completion of the degree and sometimes are just used as placements or not at all,” she said. “Therefore, it is not possible to measure the degree to which the policy change impacts the pace of degree completion in aggregate.”
Although many students receive a lot of AP credits, many will not use them.
“Sometimes the AP credits would be on [the students’] transcripts, but [the credits] wouldn’t necessarily be used to reduce the amount of time they are here,” Braz said. “You also can’t use the credits toward your major or your general education requirements.”
Students who graduate early said that they are mostly motivated by financial concerns.
Bum Sun Jun ’14 said he decided to graduate early because he wants to avoid spending an additional year of tuition.
“The biggest thing is the money,” Jun said. “If I could graduate early, I would not stay one more year and spend an extra $50,000.”
Jeongu Gim ’11 received no financial aid from Dartmouth or any other source and said in an email that he wanted to save some money by graduating early.
“I took two years off after my freshman year to serve in the South Korean Army,” Gim said. “So even though I had spent only three years at Dartmouth by the end of my junior year, all my fellow ’11s were long gone, and I already felt worn out and trapped in Hanover for too long.”
Students had mixed views on whether they thought the policy change would influence the decisions of prospective students.
Melody Zhang ’13 said that she took a lot of AP courses in high school, and if she was not able to receive credit at the College she would choose not to matriculate.
“I think there are definitely really high-achieving high school students,” she said. “They wouldn’t like it if all the effort they put in was not going to be rewarded in college.”
However, other students said that the new policy will likely not affect the application results. Jun said that when he applied to Dartmouth, he did not know that he could get pre-matriculation credits for AP courses.
“I don’t think the new policy is going to affect the application pool that much,” Jun said.
Tell said that even though it is impossible to predict exactly how the new policy will turn out, he does not imagine that it will negatively impact future students.
“We protect our education and want to make sure we make the most of it,” Tell said. “But this is not at all an attempt to discredit high school work.”
Tell said he believes advanced high school course work remains important because their efforts indicate that students will successfully transition to college-level work.
“I think that these courses were designed more to help place students into appropriate courses once they get to college,” Tell said. “But that is not to say that these courses are equivalent to Dartmouth courses.”
The College will uphold the new policy for two years and then review the impact it has on students, Tell said.