Introducing The Next Generation Of Leaders And Thinkers

The Problem With Advanced Placement Classes

High school class choices can impact the college admission process and decide the stress level of any academic year. There is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” problem with Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school. Many universities actively look for an advanced schedule of classes and if the school offers AP classes and there are none it can automatically put you on a lower list of applicants. Unfortunately, AP classes cause unnecessary stress and don’t prepare students for “real” college courses.

Many schools have stopped giving core class credit for AP classes and settled on an elective credit. This means if someone takes a math class in high school they’re not coming in with 4 credits of math that may be necessary for a major, but rather 3 credits of a “math elective” and an automatic placement in the next level. This may seem like the same except college courses are taught at a different level than AP classes even if the coursework may be the same.

AP classes are regular high school classes with a more intense pace, deadlines, and homework policies. Some schools have taken it a step further, like Dartmouth, and have completely rejected AP credits and use this as a tool for students to place out of lower-level classes with no credit. This means students may be missing core ideas that they would have learned in an introductory course.

Teachers often use the excuse “your professors won’t be this nice in college” and at the same time, students are required to raise their hands to go to the bathroom. Students are completing coursework that a 17+-year-old would be doing at a university while being treated like a child. This can be a confusing dichotomy because on one hand they are being pushed to their academic limits and on the other, they have the adult teaching them treating them like children who have no freedom.

In college, students are given almost complete freedom in what they want to do with their academics. What classes to take, how they want to learn, how they want to take notes, and even going to a class is an everyday choice. In high school, there is no freedom in how you learn. Teachers grade you on how “well” notes are written and if a problem is completed “the right way” even if there are other ways to take notes or complete a problem. For some, individual problem-solving skills are stopped because of the lack of motivation or confusion that comes with only learning one way to do things. This makes it hard for students to go to college and not know what to do with their freedom.

Universities may look at the rigor of your schedule in comparison to the courses that are offered at your school. This means that if a student is not ready to take an advanced class until their senior year schools may look at that as a lack of academic motivation. This forces students who are not at the AP level to take them which can increase stress and hurt a GPA.

Taking classes that are outside a comfort zone is normal, but throwing a student into a super intensified class just because they want to go to college is cruel.

AP classes may be worth it for some students because it gives them a chance to excel in a subject they care about and gives them a leg up in college admissions. But for the rest of the student population who do not feel as passionate about a high-level subject, it puts more stress into their daily lives. This creates an unhealthy level of stress can lead to mental health problems and issues with their other classes. Normalizing AP classes in universities has set apart upper class, AP educated students from people who don’t have the ability or education level to take a class. Often times the people who are negatively impacted are low-income, first generation, and immigrant students.

AP classes are unfair for students and create a negative environment in high schools. This may not change but a good way to help is to share mental health resources and make sure students don’t feel overwhelmed. Focus on teaching healthy study skills and time management. Lastly, give students the chance to succeed without a standardized test holding them back.

Comments are closed.

Related Posts