It’s that magical time of year again for high school students! That special time of year when you want to rip your hair out and curl up in the fetal position in the corner of the classroom. (Warning: This feeling doesn’t go away when you get to college; you just start calling it ‘Finals Week’.)

It’s AP testing time! Doesn’t that just fill you to the brim with excitement?

I won’t sit here and tell everyone that they are some kind of horrible person if they are not in AP classes or if they refuse to take AP exams while in high school. But, if I could give any piece of advice to my former, awkward, zit-faced high school self, it would be to take those exams and run.

By this time of the year, your high school teachers – who are, arguably, some of the greatest people you’ll encounter during your education career – have drilled into your skull the importance of standardized testing, Dual Enrollment classes, and yes, AP exams when it comes time to go to college. You may be saying to yourself: “Why would I want to put myself through the pain of preparing for an AP test? What good is it going to do me once I leave the confines of my high school?”

Well, a lot of good, actually, and I cannot emphasize that enough.

I’ve heard all the excuses, and given them myself countless times. “They’re too hard”, “College is far away”, “They won’t give me credits in college anyway”; “I don’t want to study, I’m a senior.” I was in your position once under the same misguided conceptions.

No, AP, IB, and Dual Enrollment classes aren’t everything. But if you are given the opportunity to take these classes and these exams – to challenge yourself – and be accredited for it in the future, wouldn’t you want to take it?

In the grand scheme of things, and in comparison to some of the things you’ll have assigned to you in college for an actual grade, the AP or IB exam is not that hard. Granted, not many professors in college will ask you to write a well-thought out, five paragraph essay in an hour; but they may ask you to write a twenty-one page research paper on the Bob hairstyle for women, if they really felt like it. Besides, we’re all procrastinators. For some people, learning how to write a complete essay in under an hour is a life skill they’ll use all throughout college.

Depending on the school you choose to attend and your future major, some of those AP or Dual Enrollment credits could mean the difference between having to take all core, general-ED classes that you don’t really want to take and getting a jumpstart on your major, and potentially graduating early.

If you have a hard time staying awake in those classes you were forced to take in high school to graduate like science, finance, or a language course, then you really aren’t going to like it when you get to college and have to take all of those plus math, English and history over again (AKA everything you already did for four years plus).

Countless times from high school students, even when I walked among you, ‘Why can we not just take classes in stuff we’re interested in? Stuff that we’ll actually use later in life?’ (As if you don’t use everything you’ve experienced later in life.)

Good news; you can take classes in stuff you’re actually interested in! It’s called making your own class schedule and picking a major when you’re in college! If you go ahead and challenge yourself in high school, you can start that major, that subject area you’re passionate about, right away.

Take it from me, someone who has walked in your shoes and knows the struggles you may be facing. All I can say and hope that you’ll listen to, is that if you have the opportunity, take it and run with it. It does pay off. It does prepare you for college. But, you have to be willing to at least try.