Daphne is a sixteen-year-old from California. Her interests pertain to everything, but most of her activities revolve around writing, reading, playing music, dance, travel, and chillaxing with the fambam and friends.
If you are about to start high school anytime soon, how are you imagining your life throughout those four years? I don’t know if you’re thinking about weekly parties or full lunch tables, but how about your academic life? Maybe it’s the heads bobbing precariously on necks early in the morning, the effort of making coffee and sighs preparatory for a long night of work, the temptation of Sparknotes, the tagging of other people in your Facebook note about vocabulary- it’s the epitome of the life of an honors/AP student. Yes, life in such advanced classes tends to be more challenging and deprive you of sleep, so what continues to causes incoming high school students to pursue taking them? Of course you could be acting on behalf of your parents wishes, but the overall reason is definitely college applications.
The more your transcript is loaded with harder courses, the more a college will gauge the fact that you are willing to challenge yourself. The homework can definitely be heavy, and teachers will expect a lot out of you, but the honors and AP classes do add to your GPA since they are weighted. However, the difference between AP and honors is that in AP classes, you will be preparing to take an AP test in the springtime that cumulates all that you have learned throughout the year. If you score a 3 or higher on this test, then you will be eligible for college credits, depending on the college that you send them too. For example, I have heard through some graduated friends that the most AP classes may help you right when you get into college is not having to take an English placement exam because of AP English scores. In addition, I’m not saying that college courses are a breeze, but I’ve also heard that taking AP classes in high school did not make the load of college courses so unwieldy. Another great benefit for your GPA is when your teacher promises to bump up your grade upon passing the test.
In contrast, the teachers of honors classes have the privilege of choosing their own curriculum. At my school, most AP classes are hard to get into. Throughout sophomore and freshman year, we are required to take prerequisite classes and especially for AP Biology, are evaluated on how well we do in those classes. Therefore, I didn’t really know much about AP classes until the end of my second semester of Honors World History. My teacher encouraged to take the test, so I went out and bought a review book to prepare and ended up getting a 4. If one studies, it is very possible to pass an AP exam with a review book and consistently working hard in an honors class. This year I was in Honors English but chose to take the AP Language and Composition test.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t be undertaking as many AP and honors classes as you can if you feel certainty that you cannot handle it well enough to do well in the class. If you might be involved in extra clubs or sports, you might not have so much time to study for AP Biology. Sure, that might look great on your transcript, but you need to prove your dedication to that challenging class by actually studying for it. Personally, however, I do know a good amount of AP students that choose to exhaust themselves in order to make those A grades, so it depends on what you want to learn. In that case, get an A in a regular science class in order to maintain a good GPA. Most colleges would also not favor the fact that you are taking an AP course but do not plan to take the AP exam. Although there are definitely kids in regular classes that work hard, but I find that I tend to enjoy at least one of my honors courses (Honors English 3!) but the other kids in those classes tend to challenge and drive themselves more, and as a competitive person who also likes to hear the opinions of others, I find this makes the class much more stimulating.
It sounds like a lot at once, to have to plan out your classes and how much effort you’re going to put into school. Choosing your classes definitely involve thinking about college and the future. So exactly how do I be honest about this last piece of advice? I found that through a lot of my classes, you just have to push yourself through it, but… it will definitely be worth something in the end.