Arizona does not require that students take honors or advanced placement (AP) coursework to attend one of the State's three universities; however, taking these types of challenging courses is the best preparation for the difficult college courses ahead. This is because honors and AP courses often challenge students to think and perform at a level comparable to that of a university-level course.
The advantage of taking these types of courses in high school is that you will receive the support and guidance you need as you adjust to the workload. By the time you enroll at the university, you will have become accustomed to the same expectations your professors will have, and easily adjust to academic life.
If, instead, you choose not to take honors or AP courses, you will still be able to attend a university, however you may find that the coursework is much more demanding once you begin your freshman year. This may be the case, even if you did take advanced courses in high school. This is okay, and completely normal, as you adjust to university expectations.
The Scholarship and Admissions Advantage
Students who complete honors or AP coursework often enjoy a considerable benefit when applying to competitive colleges or scholarship programs. By taking these courses, and earning good grades, students tell selection committees they are ready for the challenge college courses ahead, and that they are likely to have the same level of success once they attend the university.
Most organizations (universities and scholarship foundations) evaluate the rigor of a student's coursework, meaning the level of difficulty the student selected for him or herself. This is also visible at your high school, as most honors courses are evaluated with a "weighted scale," meaning the grade point average is counted using 5 points for an "A" grade, instead of the normal 4 points. This allows schools to rank their students who earn good grades in difficult classes higher than those who earn good grades in less difficult classes.
All three of the Arizona universities offer an honors experience for students who want a more rigorous college experience. Students who take honors and AP courses during high school usually find it much easier to be admitted to these programs because they already have a track record of success in challenging classes.