Should students take more than 1 AP class?
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One day about two weeks ago, I had to take four tests on the same day. The night before, I was staying up late, studying, and reviewing for my tests, and that really made me anxious. Just thinking about how many AP classes I am taking this year makes me nervous and scared. I even think a lot about whether I took too many AP classes this year! It’s important for students to plan ahead and know what you’re getting into to not regret your choices in the end.
AP classes can be a huge benefit to students, allowing them to save money and time in college and letting them dig deeply into certain subjects.. Students who are ready should definitely look to save on tuition, earn scholarships, experience interesting content, and experience the college workload.
But these students, like me, also need to be realistic about this workload. While enrolling is a great option, ask anyone who has loaded up on these courses in their last two years of high school. Some will tell you how insanely school will consume most of your schedule.
I am one of those seniors who loaded up on AP classes. AP classes pretty much consume most of my time. I am always busy with homework, studying, watching videos, taking notes, reviewing, and asking questions. Most of the time, I get to school early to review with a teacher in the morning for a quiz that we are going to take during the day or for study sessions. Sometimes, I get a ton of homework, and I end up not finishing at night, and then I have to wake up early in the morning to finish up what I have left.. This could get tiring because sometimes I do it at the beginning of the week and when I start the week like this, I continue to be tired throughout the week. I barely get 5-6 hours of sleep each night!
Here’s what I found to be a pretty typical AP class schedule: we start a new chapter, the teacher lectures, we have homework on what we worked on during class and take notes on additional reading each night, we watch videos independently in order to grasp the concept, we take quizzes the same week, and we get tested way too soon. This is a lot of work, and if you feel capable with a subject you love, it will be interesting. But remember this will remain a cycle for the number of AP classes you take. One mistake I did was that I didn’t take a single AP class sophomore, or even junior year. Looking back, I wish I had done some AP classes before I decided to take a lot in the first year.
Now that I’m here, I’m finding that AP classes consume time, and I’m having a hard time spending that time in ways I used to enjoy: talking with my family and friends, attending clubs meetings in the afternoon, and generally having fun. Some people can manage it all, but I am currently either with a teacher for help after school or at home studying for an upcoming test! I wish I had time to help my sister with her homework like I used to do before; I wish I had time to help my mom at home chores; and I wish I had time to talk with my family overseas on the phone. But because of my AP load, I’m having trouble making time for all of those things I didn’t think it was going to be this stressful. I am not saying this to scare you away from AP, but my story is a good example of the adjustments that might need to be made if a student chooses multiple AP classes at once.
The experience I’m getting, of course, is great academically. Experiencing AP class will help to consider options ultimately leading to the best choice for long term goals because AP classes are a great way to explore classes you might want to take in college, like Psychology, Computer science, Statistics, Calculus, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, English, History, or even Economics. It’s also a great way to peek into your capabilities and show colleges your abilities by taking an introductory level college course!
BUT the point is not to compete and see how many AP classes you can take. Colleges will not automatically favor applicants with the most AP courses, especially if they start to drop your GPA or you’re too overcommitted to score well on the AP exams. Colleges want to see the effort you put in, the challenges you faced, and that you tried your best. Either way, AP courses are a huge boost to GPA and are beneficial on college applications when you succeed, but a mindset of taking as many as possible might actually hurt your chances.
Now, how many AP classes you should take during your high school career? As a Freshman you can’t take an AP class at Leyden, but you can start preparing yourself by taking Honors classes. You can check out the number of offered classes that you can take throughout your sophomore, junior, and senior year in the sidebar to the right.
If I could do it over again, I would try to take three to five AP classes during my career but not put all together in my junior or senior year schedule. Because again, they consume lots of time, prevent me from practicing other things that I used to do, always making me nervous because whenever I start studying, I think about doing good in school focusing on what I am doing now to relax myself and prepare myself for the future because I know that once I get to my dream college and the person who I want to be when I am older, it will all pay off.
Challenge yourself in other classes too. Try to balance out your schedule and make sure everything fits in, and that you like what you have and are comfortable with it. Keep in mind that you want classes that you will perform your best in, but that’s just my opinion. You have the courses catalog on the Leyden website and it’s your responsibility to go on there, check it out, and start thinking about the variety of classes you can choose from to take in the next years!