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The AP mindset: Why do we really take these classes?

Ethan Meyers

Ethan Meyers

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Earlier in the year, we were asked to complete a survey regarding our feelings towards AP courses, student work ethic, and the staff during our PE classes.

As I clicked away at random answers, one in particular caught my eye, something along the lines of: “Have you ever wondered if you belonged in an AP class?”

My answer was a very enthusiastic “kind of.”

I say this not because the course materials are insanely hard. Although, they can be sometimes, and not because the people or environment in the classes are awful. I say this because of the culture surrounding AP classes; the mindset that says “being in a regular class is the worst thing you could do with your time.”

Some people don’t come right out and say it. Some elevate the ego of the AP student by downgrading the image of the kid in regular classes with jokes or sly digs. One of the main phrases AP teachers repeat is something like “the kids in regular classes would be dying to be as smart as you are,” and it creates this overwhelming fear of ever going into a lower level class because you think suddenly, you won’t be smart anymore.

Let’s say you start off high school with all honors and AP classes. You’re not good at social studies, for example, but you start off in AP Human Geography. So you end up getting an awful grade in the class when you could have succeeded in a regular class. This higher level attitude discourages dropping classes that ruin your GPA just for the AP marking on your transcript.

One thing I recently found out, due to that survey I mentioned before, is that our school has open-access AP Classes. This means that if anyone wants to enroll in one, they can. As long as you talk to a counselor about it or the teacher for that respective subject, you’re pretty much in. Why do we have this “secret club” attitude when anyone who wants to get in, can?

None of it makes sense, because most people are in a mix of honors/AP and regular classes, so often, when teachers or students say these things, they’re insulting the people right in front of them. The expectation is to do well in your classes, and when people know their own work ethic and drop down to a regular level course to save their GPA, it’s seen as a loss. The reality is, some people have math brains, some people have science brains, some people have art brains, and so on. Not every class is going to be AP for you, if you know you might not push yourself in any particular subject.

According to an article by U.S. News in 2015, 53 percent of Metea is enrolled in AP classes, probably even more now. Those kids are likely in a mix of both regular and advanced classes. To pretend that being in a regular class makes you less intelligent overall than being in an AP class is ridiculous. This mindset has got to go.

6 Comments

6 Responses to “The AP mindset: Why do we really take these classes?”

  1. darkstripe on December 1st, 2017 11:40 am

    ap people aren’t always geniuses. i managed to get into one and i have the mental capacity of a toothpick so yeah ap class =\= intelligence

    [Reply]

  2. Kenny Blazer on December 1st, 2017 1:14 pm

    rt

    [Reply]

  3. Mason on December 1st, 2017 2:14 pm

    I feel inadequate, as all of my classes are regular. I truthfully wasn’t aware of how important these classes were made out to be (I am a freshman), so I just didn’t take one. Now I feel as if I have less significance, when compared to the majority of my friends, who mostly have at least one or two honors classes.

    [Reply]

    darkstripe Reply:

    yo don’t worry i have honors and ap classes and as i said i am the worst piece of scum in the school
    so you’re fine

    [Reply]

    Senior Reply:

    As long as you establish a strong GPA this year, you’ll be fine! You’ve got three more years to take all the weighted classes you feel you can keep up with. One thing I want to say though is to not determine your worth by what class you take. I know plenty of people who brag about being in AP Bio one day, and then confess that they’re failing the class the next. Being in regular classes also gives you a chance to focus more energy on extracurriculars, which is equally important in the college application process than grades.

    [Reply]

  4. Contributor on December 1st, 2017 4:39 pm

    I think you may have overgeneralized the matter. The majority does not care what other people do/what classes they take. Why do I really take these classes? I’ll tell you right now that its not really for my GPA or to “fit in”. It is to demonstrate to colleges that I am challenging myself (and succeeding) and to actually pursue areas that I am interested. If I can’t succeed in a class, I just don’t take it. Why did I take Calculus AB instead of Calculus BC? I did this because I knew I would still be challenged, but could still get an A. I find balance between hard and easier classes- and so do most AP students. I don’t feel like I’ve failed in any way, because I literally am not going into math!! There are very few people that I know in my AP classes that have C’s or D’s and this is because we have learned to pick and choose which AP classes to take, drawing from our strengths and interests. And for those who haven’t done course selection for high school yet, keep in mind that colleges actually don’t want to see you take EVERY single AP class. Challenge yourself, yes, but develop an actual passion, don’t just follow the mold.
    The fact of the matter is, high pressure is not a Metea dilemma. All schools in the Naperville area are very competitive. After graduation, a large majority of us will be heading to 4-year colleges. Students from Metea attend schools like Stanford, University of Chicago, Cornell, and other prestigious institutions. AP courses is often the first step to qualify for these schools, because we are demonstrating strength of curriculum. Our entire community, and what we value as a country even, must change before pressure to take high level classes fade.

    [Reply]

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The AP mindset: Why do we really take these classes?