Elizabeth Fela & Chelsea Norman
March 5, 2012
Filed under Opinion
Two Views of AP Expansion Here At OHS:
Elizabeth Fela is first up with the concern that AP is being pushed too much. Then, Chelsea Norman counters that more AP is better.
Concerned about AP Expansion:
Many students at OHS are currently taking an AP class or two. Though many of them say they love their AP classes, there are some students at OHS who prefer their non-AP courses. As sophomore Amanda Singleton states, “From an outside perspective, AP classes consist of more ‘busy work’ and they study topics in a deeper sense. Regular classes skim over the topics and are easier.” More advanced classes will include topics that may not be necessary in your life unless you are planning to pursue a career in that field.
AP classes often pull students in as they can earn students college credit, if one gains an acceptable score on the AP test in May. A downside to these courses is the stress students experience. AP classes are extremely stressful, because so much lies on passing the test. On top of the college credit a student earns their natural high school grade too.
In an AP course, the curriculum and schedule can be strict and predetermined, and gives very little elbow room to do what the teacher would like or the fun activities other classes do. Getting ready for the AP exam drives all the time. With this in mind, English teacher Mr. McDougall says, “I have no interest in teaching AP.” McDougall loves the freedom he gets with teaching his non-AP classes, and his students are very fond of hiss relaxed his teaching method.
OHS, offers over 20 AP courses, and some say that is too many. “We’ve gone AP crazy,” says McDougall. Many high schools in the US only offer around five to fifteen AP courses, so OHS’ 20 does seem like a lot.
The scheduling difficulties of fitting in an AP class can take up space in students’ precious schedule. Many students may not get to take a “fun” or enriching class, such as choir or band, because their parents or guidance counselor encourage AP in one’s schedule. In fact, parents tend to provide the most pressure for their kids to take an AP course, citing the need for rigor to impress post high school endeavors.
Yet, not all colleges accept AP classes as credit replacements. And, most college entrance literature says that AP classes do not gain any applicant extra “points” for college acceptance. So, when parents push their kids over the need for AP, all should consider that the need is not listed in any college literature. However, where colleges do accept AP as credit, then that would indeed save many parents money; and that too could be behind the drive some parents have to get kids into AP.
More AP Serves Us Better:
It is said that there are two kinds of students at Olympia High School: AP students and non-AP students. Opponents of the AP program use this division as one of their arguments against AP classes. Among AP students and teachers it is generally agreed upon that if there is any division, it is caused by people who label themselves AP or non-AP. Even if this division does exist amidst OHS students the benefits of having an AP program far outweigh the cons of having one.
The obvious benefit of taking AP tests is the college credit that can be earned. If a student earns a passing score on an AP test and gets into a college that accepts their credits, thousands of dollars in tuition can be saved. Critics say that this is not important because not all colleges accept AP credit, but the truth is a very small percentage of colleges don’t accept AP credits and students have the ability to choose whether they go to a college that will accept their credits or not.
It is a myth among critics that students take AP classes in order to separate themselves from kids that they think are dumber or less civilized than them. This does not seem to be true. Senior Kristina Chen said she took AP classes “to challenge myself and earn college credit.” Another anonymous senior claimed that “non-AP classes are actually more difficult and frustrating because there is not enough motivation and intellectual stimulation.” From personal experience I can say that this is true. In the non-AP/ honors classes that I have taken in the past two years I felt stuck doing busy work. There was very little opportunity to challenge myself and most of the students did not seem to have the same goals that I did.
Taking AP classes is also extremely helpful for college admissions. Teacher Mike Schaefer said “a student with a 3.5 and [multiple AP classes] will have a significant advantage over a 4.0 student with no AP classes.”
People who do not take AP classes oftentimes say it is because the subjects that are taught in AP classes are not relevant to life after high school. This is true, but quite a few AP classes are offered in subjects that are required for graduation, such as U.S. and World History. Also, if a student earns a passing grade on an AP test it may help them to get out of classes that they don’t want to take in college. For example, somebody who hates science can pass the AP Physics test in high school and have the science requirement out of the way in college. If a student did this with multiple basic subjects there is a possibility that they could enter college as a sophomore and they could avoid taking basic requirement courses and focus on subjects that are related to their major.
Some people at OHS seem to think that we have gone ‘AP crazy’ because we offer more AP classes than average, but we must take into consideration that the schedule is student driven. This means that if a course is demanded by many students it will be offered in the schedule. AP classes are in high demand at OHS so it would make no sense to start taking them out of the schedule. In AP Macroeconomics, this year, there were actually so many students that wanted to take it that another class had to be formed a few weeks into the school year.
A majority of the students at OHS want to achieve a high level of education, they want to get out of school and start using their education in the real world, and they want to spend as little money as possible while doing these things. AP classes make these goals possible. If OHS decided to downsize its AP program, motivated students would be left with less means to achieve the impressive goals that they set for themselves.