Oftentimes students will try and measure their success in high school by the amount of Advanced Placement classes they took in the time they spent there, using them as a benchmark of how hard they worked. Students will take as many AP courses as they can to make their transcript as impressive as possible regardless of the strain it puts on them.
According to research done by College Board, in 2017, 2,741,426 students were enrolled in AP courses and a total of 4,957,931 exams were administered, a 5% increase from 2016. Increasing numbers of students are taking rigorous AP courses each year while simultaneously adding much more work and stress to their plates. Rather than being a period of time where students have to take as many college-level courses as they can with the intention of capturing the attention of colleges, high school should be a time focused on education and figuring out one’s interests.
As a way of keeping students from overexerting themselves, some schools have begun to implement a limit to the amount of AP courses one can take in a year. If Palmetto was to implement an AP cap, it would allow students to still be able to push themselves and show colleges their vigor while still focusing on learning the material from the classes and getting good scores on their exams.
Schools over-emphasize AP courses when they often offer other fine courses that are not AP, like honors classes. Often, AP courses are not even accurate representations of the college courses they are supposed to imitate. They cover too much material and do so very quickly so they offer little time for teachers to engage their students and explore the subject, preventing any intellectual curiosity from developing in students that are supposed to be learning about the subject.
It is important that there is a protocol in place to keep students from overextending themselves and ensuring that they have a well-rounded high school experience. Although the amount of AP courses being taken has gone up rapidly, the amount of students passing AP exams has gone down according to College Board. Rather than having students biting off more than they can chew and essentially wasting a class, these students should be encouraged to take classes that they are more likely to succeed in and learn something from.
Colleges used to say, “You’re only responsible for the opportunities that exist at your school;” this is no longer as true now. Students are going above and beyond what should ever be expected of them just to appeal to colleges, when their time should be spent exploring the subjects that spark their interest and learning about what they might want to study once they are in college. High school should be a time of learning and experiencing new things, not constant anxiety-ridden days and long nights.