AP Classes – Are they Really Worth It?

Makenzie Wilkinson, Editor in Chief

Every year, hundreds of Shorecrest students prepare for the new school year by registering for next year’s classes. One of the many choices students have to make during registration is whether or not they should take Advanced Placement, or AP, classes. Advanced Placement classes are classes that offer high school students college-level courses in the classroom. After taking an AP class, students are able to receive credit by taking the AP test in April. Over the years, AP classes have gotten a reputation for being superior than regular classes, and a necessity for getting into college. However, this raises a big question- are AP classes worth it?

For some students, AP classes can offer a level of rigor that isn’t available in other classes. “[I] decided I should further push myself in [a] subject, and take up the challenge of an AP course,” says junior Samaya Sullivan. The initial challenge of a higher workload can become worth it when students find themselves more interested in their subject, because they feel challenged. “AP classes do require a lot of work and a good work ethic, but it’s a good payoff,” says Sullivan. Students who crave more of a challenge but end up deciding not to take AP classes sometimes even end up regretting it. “I’d make excuses on why I couldn’t take AP classes, but now I find myself bored in classes like English. I’m not being challenged, and I’m losing what I’ve learned,” explains senior Madison Lathrop, who has never taken an AP class.

Photo credit Makenzie Wilkinson
SC Junior Samaya Sullivan poses with her AP English 11 textbook.

However, as AP classes earn a reputation for being an essential for getting into college, many students feel pressured to take them, regardless of if they feel that it’s right for them. “You get students who really don’t enjoy their classes,” explains senior Marlena Rooney-Wilcox. “A student feels forced to take a class so they feel like they can fit in at school, [and it] comes before their personal interest and academic need”. But just as students are pressured into it, they also can be pressured out of it. “There’s an ‘image’ some kids feel they need to have in order to take AP classes. They love learning and love a challenge but are talked out of taking AP,” claims Lathrop. If students take an advanced class that they aren’t ready for, it can end up stressing them out, and creates a school environment that they do not look forward to. But if they decide not to take a class that they want to take because they think they are not good enough, they can end up regretting their choices.

SC offers a variety of AP classes.

As the stigma around AP Classes gets even stronger, it creates a harmful stereotype of those who don’t take AP. “Students who don’t take AP are seen as less intelligent, when that’s just not true,” explains Rooney-Wilcox. “I think the stigma around students choices needs to be toned down”. There’s an idea that AP is a necessity, a requirement for getting into a “good” college. Some AP classes may prepare you for a future AP class, but it’s not always mandatory. “I will say that AP English 11 slightly prepared me for AP English 12, with the vocabulary, but [that’s] something you can learn on your own. You don’t need a year long class to do that. Plus, Junior year is hard enough.” says Rooney-Wilcox.

When registering for next year’s classes, AP classes are something you should spend some time thinking about. Students who want to take on more of a challenge in the classroom might want to consider taking them. But if you are signing up for an AP class, be aware of the workload, and make sure it is a subject you are interested in, and want more of a challenge. AP classes can be one of the greatest choices you make at Shorecrest, if you are genuinely interested in what you are taking. If you are worried about getting into a four-year college, taking a course might be helpful to have on your transcript, but it’s not always guaranteed. If taking an AP class has positive benefits for you, then consider taking the risk. Just make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons, whatever that may be.