By Hussein Fardous ’16
AP classes can bolster students’ resumes, increase their chances of getting into a prestigious university, possibly saveing them time and money in college. However, many AP classes taken at once may lower the students’ GPAs and prevent them from participating in extracurricular activities.
“I take AP courses to expand my intellect by enriching my experience with unique and esoteric information,” said Mohammed Kamil ’16. “I also take them to compete with myself, my friends, and to be exempted from courses in college.”
Many universities give students credit for a course if they get a 4 or higher on the corresponding AP exam according to Karen Girard, Certified Career Development Professional, in the article “Why take an AP course in High School?” This can save them time and money in college if it happens to be a required course. As a result, students can do better in their other courses because they have more time to concentrate on them. They could also choose to take another course instead of their exempted one to finish faster.
Even if the universities don’t give students credit for an AP course taken in high school, AP classes are still beneficial to students according to Girard. AP classes could strengthen students’ GPAs in high school and help them standout because they are demonstrating to colleges that they can endure a rigorous workload. In addition, by completing an AP course in high school, the students can do well on it when they take it again in college. Lastly, AP classes help students develop a “strong work ethic” and help them get accustomed to the heavy workload that is expected of them in college.
According to U.S. News Education in the article “Weigh the Benefits, Stress of AP Courses for Your Student,” Gaye Weintraub, a tutor and a graduate from the University of Texas, said students who take AP classes are better prepared, have stronger study skills, are able to think outside the box, and have more confidence in their abilities than students who don’t take AP classes.
Ms. Lorrie Director, a College Counselor, added, “AP classes help students manage their time because they are forced to make sacrifices to incorporate them into their schedules. They also help students grow because they challenge them intellectually.”
However, Denise Pope, co-founder of College Success at Stanford University, stated that too many AP classes can be deleterious to students in the article “New Report Challenges Beliefs about the Value of AP Classes” according to Mind Shift. Students rack up AP classes to get into highly selective colleges but they end up with a large amount of homework that leads to stress, anxiety, and no sleep. Thus, students aren’t able to manage the large workload and instead of boosting their GPAs, AP classes drop them.
Additionally, according to Christopher Taibbi who has a Master’s of Arts in Teaching degree, in the article “All AP? Not for Me! Why Gifted Students Shouldn’t Take the Highest Level Classes,” students usually feel inclined to take as many AP classes as possible and frequently, they take AP classes that they aren’t even interested in. Usually, colleges don’t look for the quantity but the quality of the AP classes being taken, and there is a high chance that students won’t perform as well on AP classes that they aren’t interested in when they could be excelling at extracurricular activities in their fields of interest instead.
Bilal Azhar ’16, planning to take many AP classes, said, “I am aware that taking many AP classes can be difficult and may overwhelm me to the point that it may hurt my GPA. I also acknowledge that I will need to fill out several college applications and essays. In contrast, I am taking them because I am confident in being able to manage my time to succeed in these APs and to fit in extracurricular activities. In addition, I am aware that the college applications/essays may be lengthy, but that just means I will need to start them before I even begin the next school year.”
According to Ms. Director, students are usually driven to take too many AP classes by competition and peer pressure from the perception that everyone is taking four or more of them. Then, when students do take all those AP classes, they overwhelm themselves and take on more than what they could chew even though selective colleges aren’t requiring them to buckle under pressure. In addition, seniors who take too many AP classes might mentally breakdown because they will also have to fill out college applications and several essays for each college. Thus, the right balance of APs are based on the boundaries and schedules of each student, but selective colleges favor a diversified schedule with a mediocre amount of Aps and extracurricular activities.