At Friends Academy, it’s easy to feel like you HAVE to take AP classes. These Advanced Placement classes are college-level, designed to challenge students more than a normal high school course would. The question is, are AP classes, and the stress that so often comes with them, worth it?
The answer to that question is different for each student. Students who are choosing an advanced class because they have a strong internal drive to push themselves further in a particular subject area and are genuinely interested in the material are less likely to feel stressed or anxious about the course load. When the motivation comes from within, and the decision isn’t being influenced by fears or pressure, it is certainly going to be easier to follow through on the work. For these students, an AP course would make sense for them. Denise Pope, a senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School, sums it up best: “If you are truly interested in the subject…then you're probably going to have a good experience from taking a more advanced class.”
She then continues to point out that, for other students, taking an AP might not be the best choice: “If you're pushed into it without good preparation and without a safety net in place at the school to help you if you get in over your head, then it may be more harmful than helpful.” For students who feel immense pressure to take these classes, either from themselves, their teachers, their parents or from the college process, taking an AP can feel like something they have to do. When their motivation comes from anxiety and fear, and not from genuine interest in a subject, the coursework will only add to that already-present stress.
The question of whether or not AP classes are worth it really boils down to, are you willing and able to put in the work that the class requires? Can you devote the necessary time? And, most importantly, are you genuinely interested in the subject material? If you answer these questions honestly with a ‘no’, that doesn’t mean you aren’t smart or intelligent. It means you are putting yourself first. Additionally, answering that question with a ‘no’ for one AP, like AP Physics, doesn’t mean that no AP will fit with your learning style and abilities. There are APs in every subject, so if you aren’t comfortable with science, but you love history, you can find advanced courses in something that will actually interest you.
Taking as many APs as you can fit in your schedule is not worth it if it means sacrificing your mental health and well-being. In schools like Friends Academy, where students are held to high expectations, it’s easy to feel inadequate if you aren’t taking a lot of APs while your peers are. But the number of APs you take does not define your success as a student, and pushing yourself beyond your limits might only hurt you in the long run. So, its up to you to ask yourself: Are AP classes worth it?