The Road Sometimes Taken: AP Classes


The Road Sometimes Taken: AP Classes

by Miranda Kawiecki


It’s that time of year again: most Morris Hills students have scheduled  (and rescheduled!) their course selection for next year.Every scheduling meeting poses the question of “How far should I push myself?” It’s a question that may lead students to make bold or more passive decisions with their schedule. High-achieving students will make the boldest decision– APs.


The most challenging courses offered by Morris Hills are known as APs, Advanced Placement classes. The district offers 27 AP courses in a plethora of content areas. The AP curriculum is determined by the College Board, a.k.a the creators of the ever-so-dreaded SATs. With a heightened focus on college admittance, every AP class is designed with the intention of taking a final AP test, which can potentially help you gain credits for college. 


AP classes have been a long-standing symbol of academic fervor and excellence. And to be fair, the notion of gaining an extra ten points for each AP in your GPA is tempting. But the excitement can be easily accompanied by a sense of doom at the workload and expectations imposed by teachers and parents. If you know your limits, AP classes can be a success. But it is first important to understand if it is the right path for you.

While you can feel like you’re soaring in AP classes, it can also feel like drowning. Criticisms of the curriculum include that AP classes attempt to cram too much content and that credit for your efforts is not guaranteed as not all colleges will accept APs. 

The most glaring issue associated with these challenging courses is the psychological harm. APs are certainly stress-inducing, and the pressure to achieve with high scores in college-level classes can weigh heavily on a student’s mind, making school anxiety-ridden. Dr. Suniya Luthar, a professor of psychology at Columbia University’s Teacher College, documented that students, when placed in high-achieving schools and courses, exhibited higher rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse than peers in less academically-competitive and rigorous schools. 

A piece of advice I can offer is that you do not need to take every AP class, or any AP for that matter, to be a successful student. Be realistic– if you have low confidence in math, do not attempt to take Calculus BC. The same logic applies to any course that you may feel doubtful about. Because, to be completely honest, school only gets more difficult from here (talking to freshmen and sophomores here!). You know yourself best, and your counselors are there to guide you, as they have a decent idea of your abilities. 

It’s a smart idea to take AP classes that correlate with your future goals. Consider which classes will help you gain resourceful knowledge, not only for your prospective major, but your anticipated career. AP classes are also a good indicator of if you would want to continue to pursue a college education in a particular field. Maybe after taking AP Literature, you learn that you are not as interested in studying literature. Or perhaps, you discover how much you love writing and decide to focus on that in university. Plan your schedule wisely in high school to really understand where your interests lie. 

AP classes are, without a doubt, demanding and stressful. But with careful consideration and planning, you may find that APs have a place in your schedule and are something you can succeed in. Best of luck with scheduling, and do what is best for your future and sanity.