Sincere Interest, not Grades, Should Motivate AP Enrollment

By Samuel Makarovskiy ’16

Advanced Placement classes are some of the most challenging, yet rewarding, classes available at Midwood. Unfortunately, they are some of the most misunderstood classes too.

You’ve probably heard the buzz about the meetings in late March explaining each of the AP classes in every subject area. It’s too late to register to take APs in the fall, but there’s still time to figure out what exactly you’ve signed up for before it’s too late to opt out.

AP classes offer a college level class in high school with the opportunity to earn either class or elective college credit at certain colleges based on a grade on an exam in early May.

Recently, colleges have raised the bar when it comes to accepting applicants. However, AP classes give students an edge over those who don’t take APs in the eyes of colleges according to AP Physics 1 teacher Mr. Ricky Kennard. Today, colleges are looking for students better versed in the sciences and mathematics, and AP classes offer an introduction to the college level math and science a student can expect to encounter.

 AP classes offer students a challenge.

“In my gifted classes, I see kids who are totally bored,” noted AP United States History teacher Ms. Cecelia Manno.

School, after all, is meant as a learning experience, so it should be challenging in order to prepare students for life after high school.

“A few years ago, a student of mine came back to tell me that he used his United States History outlines in a Civil War class in college,” said Ms. Manno. “He’s acing the class because of them.”

Most high school students don’t know what they want to do for a career, and that’s totally normal, but for those who do, AP classes offer a taste of what their major has to offer. On the flip side, taking an AP class can kindle a passion for a career in that field.

“You have to look above and beyond,” said AP Statistics teacher Mr. John Caldwell. “That’s why you take high school classes on college level material.”

Challenging yourself is important in high school, but overworking yourself isn’t worth it. An AP class is not by any means an easy class. They are by far the most strenuous classes this school has to offer. The two of the most difficult classes at this school, AP Physics C and BC Calculus are not APs by coincidence.

“AP classes have a workload incomparable to that of other classes,” said AP Environmental Science teacher Ms. Kimberly Lau. “They require outlines, projects, and more difficult problems.”

Many students don’t understand the workload of AP classes and end up dropping the class in early September or realize it’s too much work when it’s too late.

“AP classes are a yearlong commitment that culminates in an AP Exam in May,” said Ms. Manno.

Additionally, math and physics APs require proficiency in basic algebra, so if you struggle with math, it isn’t a good idea to take an AP that require math skills as a prerequisite.

At Midwood, AP classes are weighted 1.1 on your GPA. That means that a 90 in an AP class is equivalent to a 99 on your report card. However, this shouldn’t be the only motivator to take the class. Just because a class is advanced placement doesn’t mean a poor grade in the class is acceptable.

“A 90 in a Regents class looks much better than a 65 in an AP class for college,” said Bart Rosenzweig ’16.

APs are an amazing opportunity to learn new things that will prepare you for college level work, but they are challenging and are not to be taken lightly. Don’t make a mistake and pick a class that you don’t want because you’ll be stuck with it the whole year. Choosing to take an AP class just because it’ll be a GPA boost is also a mistake because an AP class should be taken out of sincere interest and not for a number on a page.

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