Advanced pressure classes


History-themed memes decorate the wall outside of the AP World History classroom. Every year, it week’s like there’s been more and more pressure to take AP classes. It’s time to see if they’re really as big of a deal as everyone makes them out to be. (Courtesy of Michael Rhee)

Michael Rhee, Staff Writer

    AP Courses. Weighted classes. No weekly workload limit. Back when I was still a naive little Freshman, these words intimidated me into thinking that surviving an AP class would be the greatest ordeal of my high school life.

    Seeing almost all my peers sign up for AP World or Euro and Honors Chem made me feel pressured into taking weighted courses as well. With my Junior year right around the corner, I was considering taking even more weighted classes to boost next year’s GPA for college, when my AP World History teacher, Jordan Kither, said something that made me think.

    “I wish we’d cap it at two [AP classes] per year [per student],” said Kither. “I see so many of my students in AP World so stressed out because they’re in too many weighted classes.”

    That really got me thinking: what’s more important, enjoying life now, or preparing for the future?

    “Society does pressure millennials – a lot – to take as many AP courses as possible,” Sophomore Brendan Kitchen said. “Parents tell their kids that they need to be competitive so that they can get into the best possible college they can.”

    Danville has especially high academic standards, and an unrivaled number of our students go on to two or four-year colleges. These high expectations cause our parents to encourage us to take weighted courses, just so that we stay competitive enough to get into a good college.

    “Every parent wants their kid to be a Stanford graduate, or to go to Harvard, and I don’t think that a lot of parents could admit to themselves that that isn’t the case,” Kither said.

    A lot of the pressure to take AP’s comes from college requirements and expectations. Monte Vista’s college and career advisor Cathy Haberl agrees that most colleges like to see that you’ve taken some weighted courses.

    “Colleges would always like to see you challenge yourself with the most rigorous classes a student can handle,” Haberl wrote. “They would rather see you getting a C or a B in an AP or Honors class more than you taking a regular class load and getting straight A’s.”

    As far as I can see, people think the purpose of high school is to only build their resumés for college and prepare for later. They think the best solution is through weighted classes. Unfortunately, it seems like the majority are only concerned with their GPA, rather than their passions.

    “Why would you take AP history every single year if you have no interest in history?” Kither asked. “Pick the subjects you’re interested in. You shouldn’t be having to spend hours and hours of your week on a subject you don’t enjoy.”

    Pursuing your personal interests should definitely be a high priority when picking AP and Honors classes. Knowing what you want to do will help you immensely with future decisions, such as college majors or careers.

    “The most important thing is to know what you want to do in life as soon as possible so that you can dedicate yourself to that,” Kitchen argued. “[You] don’t necessarily need to max out on AP level classes to get into a high-level college, you just need to get into the best college that’s good for you.”

    This year, keep these things in mind. Don’t worry about not taking enough weighted courses, and don’t let yourself feel pressure from your friend’s choices.

    “Set yourself apart from your peers and don’t follow the herd, taking the same classes as everybody else,” Haberl wrote. “Try something new….you might just love it!”