In one of the suburbs of Chicago resides a public high school by the name of Mundelein High School. I was lucky enough to attend this school for it has a staff that pushes students to be the best they can be. Honestly, attending this school helped me be more prepared for the college lifestyle (workload, routine change, being flexible, etc...) more so than some of the other students who attend the same university I do who experienced a huge culture shock once they began their first semester.
Now, like any other school that has ever existed there are going to be students that rave about it and those who talk down about it. At the end of the day, it boils down to individual experience. For me, I ask myself "what did my school do differently?"
I can say that yes, taking AP courses does indeed help prepare you for the workload you will experience in college. And PSSSSST, do NOT forget the test-taking skills you've learned in those classes because college exams are written the same way.
But what the material discussed in AP courses may have little to no impact on the work you will be doing in college. There may be some overlap in material, but from my experience - and I am only speaking from my experience alone - the test-taking and homework skills are the things that you will take with you from AP.
The one class that I took during my time at MHS that has the most overlap in all my studies- which I happened to be a class I was involved in all four years of my college career- was journalism.
You may be thinking, I want to be a bio major how is journalism going to help me? Or insert whatever major you are planning on having. The answer is quite simple. It will help you in your academic writings no matter what discipline you plan to go to.
For starters, you learn how to write in AP format (not to be confused with APA), so you already will begin to learn how to switch from MLA to AP and it helps break the cycle of only having MLA rules (or whatever format your high school teaches you how to write in) in your head. This for one helps you break away from writing in MLA format when you start writing papers in college for you sorta kiss MLA goodbye once you start classes.
To continue, no matter what discipline you are in when you write you are always moving facts you've found on to the countless of papers you will be writing whether it be labs, columns, or actual papers. This is exactly all that you do in high school journalism. You take whatever event or story you are covering gather all the facts and covert it onto paper. When you're in the lab, you take the event of the lab and convert it onto paper when you write your lab write up. That big research paper you will be doing? Taking the facts you found and converting it back onto paper. It sounds like a simple task, but doing it well is another game. In journalism, you learn how to make the facts intriguing and make your readers want to continue to read. And let me tell you, your professors will be thankful.
Furthermore, direct quotes do not count towards your word count for the essays you will be writing. In journalism, you master how to take someone's direct quote into a paraphrased paragraph. Mastering the art of paraphrasing will help you tremendously in your academic writing for it helps you not get flagged for plagiarism and it helps you from taking more time to figure out how to plagiarize and not get caught. Just do yourself a favor and do the work yourself it saves everyone from a huge headache at the end.
Lastly, journalism begins to start teaching one about ethics and how the law is applied to certain disciplines. In a journalism class, you will read about supreme court cases, about libel laws, and so on. No matter what major you choose, you will have to deal with ethical issues and the law. Exposing yourself to a discipline that already incorperates those two things at an early age better prepares you for handling these issues when you're older.
So my high school kids, sign up for journalism. Even if you think you're a terrible writer, you need to learn writing skills no matter where you go in life. So go ahead, challenge yourself.