The AP Epidemic

by Mariah James
Class of 2015


Advanced Placement, or AP, classes are promoted as the most respectable classes for students to enroll in, but are they really a more effective tool of learning for students, and do colleges really find them all that impressive?

The majority of AP teachers put the amount of time the student should set aside for their class in their syllabus, which usually is an expected hour or two per evening. Since Braintree High School does not offer any alternatives for AP classes, except for level two, or honors courses, many students feel obligated to take five their senior year. At the very least, that is six hours of school, plus five hours of homework, plus one to two hours of sports and classes, and that gives students twelve to thirteen hours taken up each day by school, on a good day. Not only do the classes snatch away an excessive amounts of time from students, but they also are ineffective because they feed into one another. Think about it. You have three AP tests tomorrow, but you have homework in your other two classes. How can you expect to perform all of your tasks for that night to your full ability?

On the other side of the spectrum, some AP teachers feel cruel in giving the amount of homework required for their class, so they give less knowing students have other responsibilities. Although students appreciate those teachers that give students breaks while they are dealing with a busy schedule, the result is that students are not adequately prepared in that course for college classes. Braintree High School should offer level one alternatives for students to take because loading up a schedule with over three AP classes a year results in insufficient learning.

Additionally, AP courses are meant to act as college preparatory tools for students, but with students taking more than three at a time, it could actually act as an impairment for students as they apply to college. Ben Snyder, the head of the Upper School at Noble and Greenough School, explained, “When students enroll in a full course load of A.P.s in an attempt to get a leg up in college admissions, I believe it is naïve, and worse, it can be truly unhealthy.” Torturing themselves with tons of work, in many cases AP students are simply wasting years of their lives trying to get into a college, and degrading themselves into just another number in the millions of AP students. Also, Director of Admissions at MIT, Matt McGann, states, “What makes me sad is when students focus on their studies to the detriment of everything else because they think it’s what we (college admissions officers) want.” Taking on a superfluous amount of AP courses is not beneficial to students in any way.

Braintree High School should move away from solely offering APs instead of level one courses, and promote activities that students love that will later distinguish them from the thousands of other students applying to the same colleges.

Mariah James is a student in Advanced Placement English Laguage and Composition