The Pressures Surrounding Advanced Placement Classes

Many high schoolers feel obliged to take as many AP classes as possible, even if those who have been through high school discourage it.


Cody Bowers

AP classes increase the stress that highs schoolers feel.

Cody Bowers, Staff Writer

Many high schoolers feel an obligation to take mentally demanding and challenging classes, such as Advanced Placement (AP) or college prep classes, even if they have no desire to pursue the subject of classes they are taking. Also, some high schoolers will take advanced classes even if they are ill-prepared for the course.

The enrollment and availability of AP classes for high schoolers are continuously increasing.  In the 2006 to 2007 school year, 16,464 schools nationwide had a variety of AP classes to choose from; as of the 2017-2018 school year, that number has grown to 22,169 schools that offer AP classes, according to College Board.

I think there is a lot of pressure that you should take a lot of AP classes to stretch yourself out, but I don’t think you really need to,” Cole Bowers, a freshman at Woodside High School, stated.

Bowers feels that there is a pressure or expectation on both his peers and himself to take AP classes during high school. Many students take advanced classes without truly having a reason behind taking them.

I could have taken the advanced classes and gotten the same or a better grade, and [I] would have gotten into the same school,” commented college sophomore Makayla Guentner.

I could have taken the advanced classes and gotten the same or a better grade, and [I] would have gotten into the same school.”

— Maylayla Guenter

Guenter felt that the advanced classes she took would have gotten her to the same place at collegial level.

“Initially, I thought that it would boost my resume for my application, but halfway through I found out that it wouldn’t,” Guenter recalled. “I stuck with it.”

Like many of her peers, Guenter took many AP classes without much of a plan or endgame and realized too late she did not need to take all the ones she took. This seems to be the pattern that has continued across generations.

There was an expectation that if you were not taking advanced classes you were not as good of a student,” Danny Bowers, a youth pastor, explained.

Danny Bowers recalls his time in high school almost 20 years ago; there seems to be a similar trend with students’ experience with AP or college prep classes.

“I think it’s a smaller percentage in reality,” Danny Bowers said. “I think those that have a very unique gifting mentally and academically, as well as just their drive, benefit from it, but really, the benefit for others does not outweigh the cost.”

As Danny Bowers has observed his peers and even high schoolers today that go through tough classes, he continues to see students end up regretting taking these class. Since students don’t plan ahead with how they want to utilize their credits or GPA boost from the AP classes, they regret taking it or are overwhelmed with the class.

“They can still take the same college classes they do, and they really don’t feel like they have gotten ahead in any way shape or form,” Danny Bowers added.

From my perspective, high schoolers should sit down with a counselor, teacher, or parent before taking multiple AP classes. If you don’t have an endgame in mind for taking AP or college prep classes, you may regret taking the class later on.