The AP Frenzy

Aybika Kamil | The Chronicle

Advanced Placement (AP) classes have continually been a topic of conversation in high schools across the country, whether students are discussing how many APs to take, which ones to enroll in or if they’re even worth it. They are designed to be rigorous and demanding courses that take up time and mental space.  

AP classes allow students to explore their academic boundaries and prepare for college. However, the problem that often arises is that the majority of students tend to jam-pack their schedules with AP classes to impress colleges and inflate their GPAs. This practice is commonly followed by academic burnout and deteriorating mental health. These situations are prevalent, especially in hypercompetitive environments such as Mason High School (MHS).

While these courses can aid in growth, they can also lead to over-exhausting students’ capacities and stretching them out too thin. In college, most students take three to four classes a semester at a maximum. Here, students are unlimited in their choosing when it comes to APs. On top of the APs, they take on electives and extracurriculars. 

The present brings forth the question; should there be a cap on how many AP classes a student is allowed to take in a year? 

I believe that there shouldn’t be a restriction on the number of APs a student takes, albeit I do think that students need to make well-thought-out decisions that best support them. 

Personally, I found it most helpful to ask upperclassmen and my peers for advice on curating a schedule with the perfect amount of APs. Discussing with students who have experience enriches your understanding of what course load is the best for you. Everyone’s needs and goals are different, which is why there can’t be one answer to the proper amount of APs to take. A maximum would limit students and recede their academic development. Be that as it may, students also need to take into consideration that sometimes a schedule that is far too stringent does more harm than it does good. 

As I brainstormed my schedule for junior year, I found myself victim to the sharp teeth of the AP overload trap. I had the urge to take as many APs as possible. I love challenging myself and I have always had a competitive personality. If my friend squats more than me at the gym, then you better bet that the next day I’ll be in there trying to beat their PR. So when I heard that one of my friends had already taken a few APs and was going to have almost all AP classes next year, I started seriously doubting whether I was going to be taking enough AP classes the upcoming year. 

If I scheduled every single one of my classes to be an AP class just like my friend, then the only reason, in this case, would have been to look better than or as good as other students. It wouldn’t have been because I wanted to truly dive into the content and learn. All of us here at MHS need to closely consider our intentions. 

The reason some people believe that there needs to be a limit is the suspicion of whether students taking APs are fully synthesizing the material they learn. Is it really effective to be taking a myriad of APs just to not at all understand what you’re doing in the end? There is a point at which you physically cannot take any more APs since the courses contain a great deal of memorization. It just will not be functional or productive for anyone including both the student and teacher.

At the end of the day, I truly believe that whichever journey a student chooses, they should have the freedom to be able to decide—which is why there shouldn’t be a cap on the number of APs to take. Despite this, students need to consider all the possible routes to go down and make a conscious decision for the best outcome.