Educators evaluate the merits of taking multiple AP courses

High school students across the country feel the need to enroll in numerous Advanced Placement classes in order to gain acceptance to the university that they hope to attend. Although AP classes provide advantages, they are significantly more challenging, and popular belief is that the more AP classes a student can fit into their schedule, the more likely it is that they will get into a prestigious school. However, according to Henry Whipple, a college admissions representative from Whitman University, which ranked
35th out of 211 in Niche’s best liberal arts schools in the country, this might not be the
case for all colleges.

“Students who stretch themselves too thin by taking as many APs as possible at the
expense of sleep and overall mental health might not be the best fit,” Whipple said.

“Rather, we embrace students who understand their academic and extracurricular limits and pursue rigorous academic work in the subjects they truly have passions for, while finding a balance between their academics and outside interests.”

Whipple said that the benefit of having taken AP classes in high school is that it shows admissions representatives that a student is capable of handling the academic curriculum they would take in college. Many students take AP classes to waive college classes,  but in reality, numerous variables affect whether or not the college credit will actually be applicable.

“The value of AP credits at institutions of higher education is completely dependent on the institution itself,” Whipple said. “At Whitman, scores of either 4 or 5 on the culminating AP exam for a given course can be transferred for college credit,
depending on the academic department.”
Often, prospective college students believe that the grade that they get in an AP class
is the most important aspect of the class, when in reality, college administration workers
are primarily evaluating the student on how much they have challenged themselves.
The grade bump is also not guaranteed, because if a student receives a marking lower than an A, it is impossible to get anything higher than a 4.0 GPA, which a normal class
could provide.

“If I could go back, I would not take AP classes for the grade bump,” Lucca Psaila, a San Marin alumnus and freshman at UC Riverside, said. “I would instead change that course and use extra time to do better in other AP classes that interested me more. Instead of
burdening yourself with lots of homework and exams, sign up for less and do better in the [courses] you decide to take.”
Taking an AP class in order to achieve a higher grade point average is common,
but the administration hopes that students will challenge themselves as much as possible, even if that means the student does not achieve an A in the course.

“There will always be the element of grade chasing,” Principal Mark Sims said. “If you walk away with a C, but you have been more challenged and are better prepared, you are better off. It is our responsibility to place students in the most challenging class that they will be able to succeed in.”

Psaila believes that students should take the AP test under all circumstances.

“While it is difficult, and some people may use that as an excuse to get out of it, a
three even has the potential to get you out of a whole class in college, and make your life so much easier,” Psaila said.

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