David Thompson Secondary has taken its AP course offerings to the next level earning a coveted Capstone designation. This makes Thompson one of ten schools in Metro Vancouver offering these high level, university-accepted credit courses.
Currently the school has over 150 students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
AP and Thompson teacher Albert Chang says there are many benefits for students taking AP courses, but one of the biggest ones in his mind is they allow students to get a good understanding of how they will do in university because all the courses are taught as equivalent to first year university courses.
In addition to prepping for university, AP courses can also be a big money saver. Chang says that because universities count the AP courses as first year courses, many of his students are able to save tuition costs (particularly when studying in the USA) by completing their first year courses while still in high school.
Ultimately though, Chang says it is the complexity and hands on nature of the courses that he says is most alluring for students.
"One of the things they are focused on is concept-based instruction. Students don't worry about instructions and are more focused on concepts. So this means for labs, students are given an idea and an objective and it is up to them to design the experiments," says Chang. "It is very open ended and means lots of problem solving. It can be pretty overwhelming for many kids and is certainly changing how many of them think about these problems."
For David Thompson AP alumni Nishad Jamaldeen there were a number of reasons for taking AP courses.
"I found it as a different way to challenge myself and to take courses that were more mentally demanding than the provincially developed ones. AP courses tend to add more depth and I found that intriguing as well," said Jamaldeen. "For example, the chemistry 12 curriculum covers five topics over the course of the year and most of it is very arithmetic in nature. On the contrary, AP Chemistry introduced a vast range of concepts from deepening ideas developed in chemistry 11, such as chemical bonding, to introducing new concepts like thermodynamic laws, quantum theories and ideal gases. It also deepened chemistry 12 concepts such as acid-base calculations."
Jamaldeen also says he liked how AP courses allowed him to build on his knowledge foundations.
"Not all my AP credits are relevant to my university courses, but if there are courses that I will not need as foundations for second year (such as 1st year chemistry as I will not be taking any successive years of chemistry), I would definitely use the credits and reduce my tuition costs," he said.
Currently David Thompson offers the following AP courses:
AP English Literature & Composition
History and Social Sciences:
AP Human Geography - planned for September 2015
Math and Computer Science:
AP Calculus AB
AP Calculus BC
AP Statistics - planned for September 2015
AP Physics 1
AP Physics 2
World Languages and Cultures:
AP Chinese Language and Culture
AP French Language & Culture - planned for September 2015
For more information about the school's AP program, click here.