Under Pressure

AP-anything sounds better than a normal teenage life to too many students


Magdalena Laughrey

AP book open with other school materials stacked on a desk

Magdalena Laughrey, Staff Writer

Every spring when students are tasked with choosing their classes for the upcoming school year, they are faced with a tough decision: what are the best ones for them? Most feel pressure from peers, teachers, parents, and themselves to accept the challenges that await them in AP and Honors courses. But too infrequently do they ask, are they worth it?

It’s no secret that NA students have overwhelming amounts of pressure stacked on their shoulders to not only succeed but to be the very best. In order to be the best, they feel forced to take AP courses along with Honors classes. While this mentality can produce high-achieving, driven students who are more than ready to take on college, it can also put massive stress upon 16-18-year-old kids. 

Contrary to what many think, enrollment and success in an AP level class is not the end-all-be-all of intelligence; it’s mostly an indicator of how well students can balance their course difficulty and workload in addition to the rest of their activities in and out of school. That is why many AP teachers even say that if a student cannot handle the immense amount of work given, they joined the wrong class.  If a student has an interest in the class and is willing to put in the effort needed to do well in the course, they should enroll.

With the workload many schedule for themselves, a genuinely enjoyable life outside of school can turn into an impossible feat.”

However, there are too many instances where students join an AP class under the impression that they need to have those two mere letters on their transcript in order to be accepted to the college of their dreams. These ambitious students choose to take multiple advanced courses along with Honors classes, and possibly even labor-intensive electives, and by the middle of the school year, they begin to feel the burden of their choices. Stress continuously builds from the mounds of homework and hours of studying that they must finish to achieve the “A” they so desire. But is the cost of success worth it?

Situations such as these are not ideal for most high school kids. Students should have the opportunity to play sports, join clubs, and spend time with their friends outside of school. With the workload many schedule for themselves, a genuinely enjoyable life outside of school can turn into an impossible feat. It feels unnatural and relatively unprecedented to have to choose between enjoying yourself during your free time or keeping up with schoolwork.

Additionally, when students load their schedules with challenging courses throughout the day, they risk a lower grade in each class. If the student has difficulty managing their intense workload along with the complex material in the course, they may not attain the ultimate “A” letter grade, let alone a “B” or even a “C”. 

For some, having AP-anything on their transcript is satisfying enough; hey, it shows that the student chose to take harder courses. Others want their transcripts adorned with shining “A’s” may invite levels of stress into their lives that they weren’t especially planning on.

For the junior class, at least there’s one more go-around with the scheduling process.  Perhaps next time, more of us will come to prioritize leisure and sleep over the relentless grind to polish our transcripts.