Advanced Placement programs give students a glimpse into college

Pictured, front row, l. to r.: UHS AP Instructors Sara Bingham and Dr. Lisa Brown. Back row, l. to r.: Tommy Lewis, John Apple, and Mark Livesay.

PUTNAM COUNTY – As students enter high school, there are more options than ever to earn college credit before graduation. One of those options in the Putnam County School System is Advanced Placement (AP) courses. These are college-level courses that challenge students and expose them to higher-level education to prepare them for college better. Upperman High School (UHS) saw the program’s impact on its students and has grown its program from one course to nine in five years.

“Parents will hear the term EPSOs, which stands for Early Post- Secondary Opportunities, and AP courses are under that umbrella providing students with post-secondary (after high school) opportunities in high school,” said John Apple, AP Social Studies instructor at Upperman High School. “With AP classes, students take the course and at the end of the year, they will take an AP exam. If they pass the test with a three, four or five they receive college credit depending on the college. AP instructors are there to prepare students with college-level academic instruction while also preparing them for the AP exam that they will take at the end of the course.”

Apple continues, “Taking an AP class is a great way for a student to challenge themself academically, and a student can earn college credit which allows them to move into what they want to study in college by getting those basic classes completed in high school. This ultimately saves them time and money. A college will look at those who take AP courses and see they’re serious about their education as well.” 

However, students who choose to enroll should be prepared for the increased academic challenge of these courses. 

Mark Livesay, AP instructor for math at UHS, states, “These courses help prepare students for that rigorous college setting. 

AP courses challenge the student and the expectation on the student is a bit more. A student has to be in class every day and be ready to learn high-level materials. There may be some work outside of the classroom that is required, so having a good work ethic is beneficial. When they walk out of our classes, whether they pass the exam or not, we want them to be a bit more prepared for college.” 

Dr. Lisa Brown, UHS AP English and Literature instructor, continues, “I think what they gain also is that interaction with students, teachers and material that is not possible in other settings (within high school). They have an environment that invites discussion and questioning and those two traits, when they learn to handle them, help them grow as people, as students and as thinkers. In general, I think the whole school grows from AP courses being taught. Even the students who do not pass the exam, continue to think and remember what they learned. That can impact the school as a whole and it helps the student body to grow.”

AP courses are open to all students who have completed the prerequisite coursework. Families and students can enroll during registration or speak with their counselor.

“In 8th grade, some students are taking integrated classes, and counselors may see that and recommend an AP class,” said Dr. Brown. “Teachers in the schools watch their students and know when a student might be a good candidate for the AP courses as well.” 

Apple encourages families and students by saying, “These courses are challenging, but not impossible.” 

Additional information to note is that students will need to contact the college they are planning to attend to see if they will award credit for AP examination scores. Some Ivy League universities do not accept AP credits but want to see those on the student’s transcripts. Counselors will provide fee information to all AP students, exam fees are usually $95, and financial assistance may be available. Families can read more about the Advanced Placement program in the Middle and High School Course catalog available at

All Putnam County High Schools offer Advanced Placement courses. To see what courses are available, contact your child’s counselor or the school. 

Advanced Placement instructors at UHS meet to plan. From the left John Apple, Dr. Lisa Brown, Tommy Lewis, Mark Livesay,and Sara Bingham.

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