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Why Students Should Not Be Overloading Schedules with AP Classes

Aida Porter-Hyatt, Teacher's Corner Editor

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At the start of junior year, there is a competitive air that lingers around the halls of Pikesville. While sophomores and freshmen have the choice between taking honors or GT level classes, juniors now have to decide between honors and the highly anticipated AP classes. Many former GT students’ first instinct is to load their schedule up with as many of these as possible; however this overachiever fad is not always the smartest choice when creating one’s schedule.

AP classes were originally created so that students could receive college credits for classes that they did not want to have to pay for in college. If students study hard enough, then they might be able to pass the AP exam for that course and get credit with a four or a five. They are debatably the same level as a college course; teachers often lecture instead of giving out worksheets and assign outlining the textbook as homework. Another difference between AP and standard classes is the importance of writing essays. The AP exam will usually have two to four essays depending on which subject it is for.

ap

photo coutesy of Jamela Vidal

There is no question that colleges will look at a student’s level of rigor as one determining factor for admission. However, what many students fail to understand is just this- that it is ONE factor in itself. Many students falsely assume that by taking five or six AP’s they are guaranteed admittance into top colleges. But in reality, unless a student is striving to get into a prestigious Ivy League school, no college is expecting students to have a schedule filled with strictly AP’s. Colleges also look at other important factors, such as essays, interviews, SAT and ACT scores, extra-curricular activities, and many other high school achievements. Another important thing to recognize is that many colleges look at unweighted GPAs as a determinant for scholarship money, which do not showcase the rigor of classes taken.

AP tests will take place in May at the beginning of the month. Around this time is when many juniors will be taking their SAT and ACT tests. At this point students who are taking multiple AP classes will have to balance taking SATs, ACTs and AP tests. AP tests are extremely difficult, so unless you are dedicating your life strictly to standardized tests, the decision to overload with AP classes will be regretted. Not to mention the fact that taking that many AP tests will create a serious hole in anyone’s pocket, considering it costs 93 dollars to take one. If you are studying for five AP tests, the chances of you getting a four or five on all of them is slim. Unless you are some sort of AP test genius, over four hundred dollars could go down the drain.

This article was not meant to bash on those who challenge themselves with rigorous course schedules, but rather to lift the spirits of those who feel discouraged because they think their peers will be more successful getting into college solely because of their AP classes. At the end of the day, the important thing is that you are comfortable with the rigor of your classes, and that you are taking the classes which fit your skill level.

 

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Why Students Should Not Be Overloading Schedules with AP Classes