Confessions of an Advanced Placement student
May 6, 2015
Entering high school, students learn the three things most critical for getting into college: maintaining a high grade point average, being involved in countless extracurricular activities both in and outside of school, and taking challenging courses.
The last factor, taking challenging courses, often poses the largest influence on a student’s daily life. By ‘challenging courses,’ colleges mean classes that mimic those offered at their institutions classes labeled Advanced Placement.
Being the highest level courses offered at Palmetto, AP courses attempt to function as college classes with a quick-moving curriculum, strict grading guidelines and a final exam on the given subject at the beginning of May. AP exams are constructed and scored by the College Board, the same company that administers the SAT and ACT, standardized tests that are required for applying to colleges and universities.
Teachers and students alike spend the entire year preparing for their subject’s exam, not hesitating to make statements such as, “it’s not on the test so you don’t really have to know it,” or “I’m not doing really well this quarter, but it’s okay because I’m passing the exam and my teacher will override my grade.” By memorizing facts only to take an exam and forget the information immediately, AP courses dissuade students from taking the time to thoroughly understand material and retain it with consistency.
Similarly, what is lost in taking so many “rigorous courses” is the student’s passion for learning. While a large portion of students filling the desks of AP classes are there because it is the pace at which they feel the most comfortable learning, many are there because their counselors told them that “colleges would like to see that.” Still the question remains: would it be better to take an AP class and fail or pass by the skin of your teeth, or excel in an honors or regular course? However one chooses to answer this question is left to their discretion, but I would choose the latter simply applying my knowledge from personal experience.
At the end of the day (or year, actually), all AP students are also well aware of the fact that having a schedule mainly comprised of classes that basically end in early May results in being babysat for the remainder of the year. Dragging yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn becomes unavailing, and playing Mario Kart or “water pong” all day is hardly worth it.
Simply put, living the ‘AP life’ leads students to believe they will work tirelessly for about nine months and memorize stockpiles of information only to regurgitate it on exam day. From there, information they previously crammed slips slowly from these students’ consciousness. As a result, minds go on a hiatus as bodies sit around the gym or auditorium for the remainder of the school year.