By Aaron Cho
Everyone gets stressed. It is a natural human reality. However, in 2017, 2.7 million high school students took nearly five million AP tests according to the College Board. Students are experiencing extreme amounts of stress due to Advanced Placement and Honors classes. This pressure on students to take advanced classes needs to be lessened so that students do not feel forced to take them.
AP classes are courses that can be taken in high school that can earn a student college credit. Honors classes are usually advanced courses that introduce more difficult material at a faster rate. These two types of classes have become coveted amongst high school students, as many feel like they have to take AP and Honors classes to do well in high school.
The grade scale at Pinewood gives different weight depending on the class. At Pinewood, most regular classes like history and math are given a 1.5 grade scale and electives like journalism and debate are given a 0.5 grade scale. This discourages academic exploration, as students will only take classes that help their grade the most instead of experiencing different electives that interest them. AP classes also boost students’ GPA. For example, a B in an AP class is equivalent to an A in a regular class. This encourages students to take more AP courses to attain better GPAs.
This pressure felt by students can come from multiple sources. Many students try to take advanced classes because their parents encourage them to, while other students believe advanced classes will actually be the right fit for them. While AP and Honors classes are obviously beneficial for students that are able to succeed in them, not every student can. Another big problem with taking a large amount of advanced classes is that they suck up a lot of time.
“It’s at least 30 percent more work than any other class,” James Keipp, the director of UCLA’s AP Readiness Program, said. Students want to play sports, be involved on campus, and participate in drama. In many cases, AP classes can restrict a student’s free time.
As a rising junior, many APs are now becoming available to me, and it is overwhelming. My family tells me to take as many APs as possible to get into a good college, while most people at school tell me that I should take courses that truly resonate with me instead of the hardest ones available. It becomes harder to justify taking electives like journalism and debate that take up a considerable portion of my time while only giving a 0.5 grade scale. I do not think Pinewood should change the weighting of the classes’ grade scale because required classes are crucial to high school education, but I think our society as a whole needs to change the thinking surrounding AP classes. Instead of making students feel obligated to take as many AP courses as possible, schools and families should put the students’ interests first.