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

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.