Advanced Placement (AP) classes are considered the most prestigious courses available in high school. Due to their college-level difficulty and hefty workload, they are deemed unfit for the faint-hearted. However, I have determined that the real difficulty of an AP class is learning to deal with fellow students in what can only be described as a mental Hunger Games. While that may sound melodramatic at first, closer inspection of the environment of an AP classroom proves otherwise.
For the classic AP student archetype, everything is a competition–even something as twisted as who can appear to be the most stressed out. After all, if you’re worrying about grades 24/7, clearly you must be the most academically challenged and therefore the most likely to get into a college with the most prestige, and then have the best, most lucrative career, and finally die happy, rich and successful.
The mental Hunger Games of AP classes are underhanded and tactical. The competition among AP students takes the form of attempts to display vast knowledge of the subject and suck up to the teacher. It is not uncommon to hear such passive-aggressive remarks as “What did you get on the test? Oh, an A-? I got a solid A. It was so easy.”
AP students possess a unique combination of insecurity about their rank and the idea that they are intellectually superior to others. Possibly a side effect of the “you’re special” conditioning that many students receive in today’s society. this dangerous complex often leads to social stigma between students that creates the frustrating nature of an AP class.
Of course, not all AP students fit this stereotype. In the Hunger Games, not every tribute is a passionate murderer who wants to bring pride to their district. Not every student is a grade-obsessed overachiever who wants to avoid becoming an “embarrassment to their family.” But the small handful of students who do act this way make life extremely hard for everybody else. Stress is contagious, and just a few students’ anxiety can often whip an entire class into a frenzy.
Even if you find yourself guilty of being an overzealous AP student, it’s never too late to change. I’m certain that you, as well as your fellow classmates, will find it an extreme relief to no longer have to compete against each other. Don’t let the Hunger Games “kill or be killed” mentality take over your life – after all, we’ve all seen (or rather, read) how terribly that can turn out. Show them that you’re more than just a piece in their games.