EDITORIAL: What are AP classes really for?

By Tam News Staff

It’s easy to get caught up trying to determine which classes will give you the upper hand, but the rush to dazzle colleges with impressive schedules may make you lose sight of what you actually want. Pressure from school, family, and even other students to enroll in honors or AP classes can make students forget that a high grade point average is not equivalent to a successful high school experience.

Taking a class you aren’t interested in for an easy grade is a waste of time and resources for you, the teacher, and taxpayers. There is little use in pursuing a goal that will make you unhappy whether you achieve it or not, and a class taken to appeal to a certain college only limits the time you could spend exploring subjects you truly like. Because the class represents an appeal to standards, rather than a personal interest in the subject, taking it only shows that students are mainly looking for a higher GPA than intellectual growth.

Emphasis on taking honors and AP classes takes attention away from supposedly less “important” subjects. As students flocked to enroll in classes that they thought would look good on their college applications, previously offered classes like Latin, martial arts, basketball, football, and, most recently, Mandarin, were cut due to lack of demand. This is likely because students beefed up their schedules to please college admissions, rather than attending to their own hopes and goals.

Honors and AP competition also creates unnecessary stress among students, who may feel anxious or inferior when comparing their schedule to one that is packed with APs. While higher-level classes pay off if one is genuinely invested in the topic, they’ll be a pain in the long run if you’re looking to impress anyone but yourself. It also creates illusory standards for oneself, and the student may find that they have been adhering to the expectations of someone with completely different ambitions.

We spend seven hours a weekday in school, and as much as we may complain about it, there’s no reason to add to our own misery by taking classes we don’t enjoy. The purpose of education is to help us discover and pursue subjects we are passionate about, regardless of how “useful” they seem. You could fill your schedule with demanding classes that you don’t care about and be pushed into a career you never wanted, or you could take a chance, broaden your horizons, and follow your dreams.