Matt is a 17-year-old from New York City, NY. He loves to be social and spend time with his friends, as well as being an active leader in his community. However, school also plays an important role in his life and he is motivated to achieve his dreams.
The month of May houses many important holidays to all Americans. Mother’s Day of course is at the top of the list, followed by Memorial Day and Cinco de Mayo. However, there are two weeks in May that are sacred to most High School students as well–we call them “AP Week!”
Starting in most students’ sophomore year, they have the option of taking AP classes. Now, what is an AP?! AP is an acronym for “Advance Placement.” In actual words, these AP Classes are more advanced than the typical high school class, and are equivalent to the introductory course in college of the subject. For example, I am current in AP Biology. This means that my class has a more rigorous curriculum than the regular biology courses at my school, and is equivalent to Biology 101 at most universities and colleges. AP classes cover a wide range of potential subjects from Spanish, to Art History to Music Theory and Chemistry. The College Board is the creator of these tests. This is the same organization that is in charge of The SAT and SAT Subject Tests.
So, from the facts I gave you above, it should be evident that AP classes are quite difficult. I can personally tell you that this is a very true statement. However, they are very rewarding if you put the time and effort into actually learning the material. Because these classes are supposed to be equivalent to college courses, they are taught in a more “college” manner as well. These classes do not stress minute details, rather major concepts and details that can be applied to many situations. The difference between the SAT II and the AP in the same subject is that the SAT II tests on a high school level rather than a collegiate level.
Now, there are many AP options, as I said earlier in this post. However, many schools do not offer all of the options. For example, a lot of schools do not offer AP Art Studio. Yet, it may be very difficult for prospective AP students to choose what class(es) to take. On top of this, of course the typical parent wants his/her own child to take as many classes as possible. Why? AP credit can potentially give credit and exemptions from classes. Therefore, in college, one with credits can start focusing on “more important” concentrated courses. However, this is where the debate starts…and never ends, unfortunately.
Now, for the debate. There is a growing debate between parents and their teens about how many APs to take, which subjects and when. Personally, I have been in AP classes since my freshmen year of high school. However, the majority of my friends took their first AP class junior year. In my opinion, regardless of what year the class is taken, I truly believe that every high school student should experience a rigorous college-like class. In fact, my school has recently passed a new policy stating that every student from the class of 2015 onward must take and pass at least one AP by his/her graduation year. There are many students who are apprehensive about this new policy. I think it is a necessity that every high school student understands what an introductory college class looks like. There is also the truth that colleges like to see that you are challenging yourself as much as you can throughout your high school career.
Let’s be honest for a minute: the majority of students do not want to put the time and effort into taking a bunch of college-level classes while they are still attending high school. Personally, I’m a bit crazy…at least that’s what my friends tell me. I’m taking six APs in the month of May. Call me crazy, but I would love to start college with a semester of credits under my belt before freshmen year even starts. My sister started with 21 credits at her school, which made her college experience a lot easier and more fun. But, regardless of my decisions, how many APs in the right number, and when should they be taken?
Parents, of course you have your own opinions, but you must ALWAYS remember that you are not the one’s taking these classes! I know this may sound silly, but it’s something that many parents forget. Because of this, I would recommend you advise your teen(s) to do what is best–not for you, though. If you know that your teen has a strong aptitude for biology, recommend taking AP Biology. If your teen has a passion for foreign languages, recommend taking an AP in a foreign language. Also, make sure that your teen that an AP course requires more studying at home…a lot of the time the full curriculum cannot be met at school. But at the same time, make sure that your teen understands that there is nothing to be worried about! Everyone has the potential to succeed if s/he puts his/her mind to it. The same goes for APs.
Teens, don’t take on a course load that you cannot handle. Yes, it is impressive when you take multiple APs. However, it is not impressive to have the class on your transcript with a bad grade!
I hope everyone has a great month of May!