Advanced Placement (AP) courses offer challenging college-level curriculum to millions of high-school students all over the world. With the AP tests in May coming around the corner, high school students have rigorously started studying for these exceptionally significant exams.
Why exactly do high school students have to take such burdensome classes in their young adolescent lives? Furthermore, what is the actual driving force that motivates them to strive for good scores on these AP exams?
Currently, there are 39 AP courses, from macroeconomics to Spanish literature. Perhaps the most obvious, clear, and common reason to enroll in these AP classes is the fact that they provide college credit. This reduces future tuition fees and the required coursework for graduation.
In addition, taking AP classes shows competitive schools a glimpse of a student’s capability to deal with very demanding material, similar to that in college. It demonstrates a mentality to take challenges and explore a variety of potential majors for the future. However, I do not believe that these aspects are the real reasons that most students invest time and effort into AP courses.
The more common reason shared by students is that parents and other peers tremendously impose excessive pressure on them. The constant “shroud of competition” to see who achieves greater academic success is present everywhere. The idea that overachievement will lead to acceptance to a prestigious college and a “perfect” life is embraced by all.
Generally speaking, students not only want to meet their parents’ high expectations, but they desire to rank higher than those students around them. This mentality is why students want to take that extra AP class at school, or even self-study for one more in order to include it on the college application. Overall, the aspiration for challenges is gone and replaced by a desire for “flawlessness.”
Jacob Sola, a sophomore at West Ranch High School, said, “I enrolled in two AP classes this year in order to meet the demands of my parents to get into a top-ranked college, which apparently leads to a happy life…Additionally, all my friends take AP classes to impress schools, so I decided to do the same. Sometimes, I really want to just stop and question myself for doing this. All this honestly stresses me out, and the AP tests are just creeping closer and closer.”
High school is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should be embraced and enjoyed by all. Nowadays, this ideology is greatly undermined by a considerable amount of pressure that originates from parents and other students. As a result, students overburden themselves with AP classes and make it a mandatory goal to excel on the exams in May. More often than not, low scores lead to depression on top of searing rejection and disapproval from parents.
So if you ever question why you are doing these AP classes, just know that it’s your life and your decision. Just do what you desire because that’s what matters most.