Advanced Placement (AP) classes are classes designed to challenge students, to provide an example of a college course, and to aid the college preparation process. Every February during course selection week, students strive to pack their schedule with AP classes; and often times end up taking more than they can handle.
In order to reduce the amount of students that feel overwhelmed by their schedule, guidance counselors take certain measures like requiring teacher recommendations for every AP and Honors class and sending home “AP contracts” that essentially bind a student to a class.
Senior Alex Simmons is currently enrolled in six AP classes and feels as though the AP contract is a good representation of the college future AP classes are trying to prepare students for.
“I agree with it because AP classes are college level classes, you won’t be able to change your professor if you don’t like them, so I don’t think it should be changed,” said Simmons.
When students attempt to drop AP classes during the first few weeks of school, they fail to realize the mass effect it has on the entire master schedule.
“It’s all about the master schedule and the contract with the teachers that we have to let them know before the transfer period that this is what you’re going to be teaching next year. Because if they don’t like their schedule they might want to go to another school for different jobs, it’s more about the big picture not just the individual class itself,” said guidance department head Susanne Powell.
The guidance department tries their best to handle each student’s situation individually and case by case, but the problem lies in the warnings the guidance department attempts to push when kids are signing up for the difficult classes.
The AP contract, teacher recommendations, and the stress they put on the difficulty of the AP classes are put in place to reduce student desires to drop their AP classes. These tactics are not made to be taken lightly, and students who do so do not deserve to drop their classes.
AP classes are formulated to be difficult and challenge a student, if a student does not feel as though they can handle the work load, they should have been responsible enough to look at the consequences before they signed up for the class.
The high school purpose is to prepare students for the academic college life that is looming in the future. In college, students have a designated period to drop or add classes, and the decision is final after that. The student at that age is expected to take on the responsibility of a difficult schedule, and their high school preparation is a reflection of that.
High school students should start becoming aware of the work load AP classes demand and recognize the fact that no matter the AP class (even if it considered “easy”) will force the student to study and spend a considerable amount of time dedicated to the subject.
By dropping AP classes because a student is overwhelmed, they are essentially saying they did not take into account the precautionary planning and the words of the guidance counselors into consideration.
Admittedly, the system isn’t perfect. To give a student a more accurate view of an AP class, guidance counselors could consider letting a potential AP student “shadow” a class and sit in the class during their lunch period.
Guidance counselors could possibly make it a requirement to have a student talk to a teacher about an AP class difficulty level and give the students a “grace” period to drop a class.
“I want everyone to be happy with their schedule, but it’s not a perfect world, so you’ll probably never have the perfect schedule and the perfect teacher, and nothing everything is going to be perfect,” said Powell.
The utopian idea of a “perfect schedule” will always been in sights for high school students, but for now they should realize the consequences that come with an AP class and think a little more before they pack their schedule with APs to boost their GPA or prove that they can handle the workload.
Sam Bequer / Editor in Chief