Why the drive for a greater AP program misses the mark for students who love to learn... and those who don’t
Today, getting into (a fantastic) college seems to be the most important thing in every student’s life. From the time that we are in middle school until our applications are submitted, guidance counselors, teachers, parents and friends all try to push us down this route, explicitly or otherwise. Because of this, many students at Malden High School take at least one or more AP class in their time here and I believe that this leads to a lot of problems within the school and for the students who are part of the AP program.
For starters, I would like to remind everyone why the levels of classes are designed this way. The basic course is Academic Preparatory, however this class once offered by Malden High as it is at many other high schools around the state was dissolved years ago. A level above that, and now the lowest offered by the school, is College Preparatory (CP). Above that and at a faster pace sits Honors, what was once the highest that most students went. And finally, the pinnacle of classes is the Advanced Placement, the college level, nationally administered and standardized class.
AP was created for those who are extremely talented and interested in a subject, and it is absurd to have unqualified or uninterested students taking them as they are at a disadvantage compared to their peers. But at Malden High, things are different. The students, and to some extent the faculty, push Honors as the basic class, the class that most who are not horribly failing (figuratively and literally) take.
While the school does not doesn’t plainly say “take more AP classes,” they do rationalize AP as a better choice for students. The mentality is, “better to have a C or B in AP than an A in Honors.” While this is often the case , students who are on the fence about taking an AP often see this an OK for subpar performance in much more specialized and demanding classes and subsequently sign up for a class which they are not fully ready to take. I wholeheartedly agree that pushing your boundaries is beneficial academically and mentally, but students do not don’t realize that a B in Honors does not doesn’t translate into a B in AP, nor a C, nor any specific letter grade; AP is a completely different animal than any other class. This can catch students unprepared, leaving them floundering with grades that can significantly drop their GPA, act as a black mark on their college applications, and discourage them from taking advanced classes in the future.
Beyond dragging down the students who unwittingly make the mistake of signing up for AP classes that they may not be able to handle at the moment, pushing for wider AP enrollment drags down the quality of the classes overall. Teachers and students who would normally be able to move at a pace conducive to college level classes must wait idly for those trying to keep up. I am the first to help out in my AP classes when my friends and peers ask for it or need it, but when a chunk of the class is failing no matter what help or advice is given, it becomes a burden and can take away from my experience. And why should that happen? Why should my passion for a subject be hampered by those who lack the same excitement? The answer is it should not shouldn’t. People who aren’t passionate about a subject should, for their sake and the sake of those who are, refrain from taking the AP variant of those classes.
Now as we approach midterms and thus the halfway point of the year, many people who have made the mistake of signing up for an AP class that they are not aren’t suited ready for are realizing the implications extent of their decision, so but I hope to impart some words of wisdom for....
Firstly, do not don’t let a class you are unprepared for discourage you in the future, and similarly do not don’t pass up opportunities for an advanced class you feel passionate about ready for. My weakest subjects do not don’t hold back my strongest, and yours should not shouldn’t either.
Secondly, and this applies to all students:, do not don’t rush into an AP class for merit only. If you have you’ve experienced one, you understand its the calibre of them, and if you have not haven’t, take my word along with the word of anyone who you ask. AP classes serve as a resource for to those inclined and able to take on their challenges, but as an unnecessary hardship for those who are not aren’t.