[Opinion] On Advanced Placement

[Opinion] On Advanced Placement

AP. It is a two letter acronym that connotes many things: achievement, stress, homework, and the inter-student race to the top. North Point’s twenty plus Advanced Placement (AP) classes offer students an opportunity to challenge themselves and complete college level coursework in the hopes of receiving credit that can be used in their undergraduate years. AP classes are not for everyone. The amount of studying, time, and pressure they exert can take a toll on many, including the highest achieving students.

For sophomores, the first taste of an AP class is United States History, which proves to be a sharp increase in workload and difficulty from the Local, State, and National Government course of freshman year. Students realize that success means studying more than twenty minutes in advance of a test. They come to terms with the fact that an “A” is no longer the default grade for attempting assignments. And, as much as AP classes here feel far removed from a college campus, students learn a value that will prove necessary after they arrive on one: self motivation. A college professor won’t hold his student’s hands through an assignment. Neither will most AP teachers.

For all of these positive, character building aspects of enrolling in an AP class, there are inevitable drawbacks. Students must juggle the demands of homework and preparing for assessments with sports, clubs, jobs, and family commitments. The concept of fun is often lost in the everyday struggle to fit in all of these activities in the hours following the 2:50 pm bell. For many, sleep falls to the bottom of the priority list. Stress mounts along with a student’s growing pile of essays, readings, worksheets, meetings, games, and concerts.

This isn’t to say that every AP student at North Point feels crushed under the weight of their schoolwork. Most students are able to complete most of the tasks before them on a daily basis and still have time to spend on Facebook or watching Glee. But few students have not gone through weeks where the pile seems to grow unmanageably, inescapably large.

Though few would admit it, a large number of AP students aren’t enrolled in those classes because they are interested in the subject or want to be challenged on a college level. Many, but by no means all, take AP classes to better their college resume, increase their class rank, and inch further toward the coveted #1 spot. This is an understandable, yet unfortunate, result of increasing competition for academic supremacy. Students should keep in mind that they are more likely to do well in an AP class if they have a genuine interest in the subject.

There are undisputed drawbacks that are involved with signing up for an AP class. But in this case, the benefits outweigh the detractions. North Point’s student scholars have proven time and time again that they can undertake the AP challenge, learning and thriving in the process. The advantage of being ahead of one’s college peers in both academics and preparedness is extremely valuable. In AP, gifted students are finally given coursework that is stimulating and takes them to an entirely new level of academics. Students have always been taught to push themselves at school. Advanced Placement courses give them the opportunity to do so.