To take or not to take APs: Course selection paradox


Arshia Chakravartti

Students struggle with the overwhelming workload that comes with taking too many AP classes.

Wali Chaudry, Staff Reporter

One of the hardest decisions students face during their years in high school is whether or not to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses, and I think that many students make the wrong choice.

The amount of AP classes a student can take varies based on their grade level and the other classes they are enrolled in. At Burlingame, juniors and seniors are able to take at least three APs — in the history, science and English areas — without completing any advanced classes prior. The opportunity for students to take these classes may be viewed as a positive, as it provides a larger variety of courses to choose from; however, some students decide to take all of the advanced courses available, thinking that it will help them get into their dream college. 

There is validity in their views as these courses do give students college credit and show colleges that they are prepared for the rigorous work lying ahead of them. But if students bite off more than they can chew by not being able to handle the advanced coursework for classes they elected to take, it will ultimately do more harm than good. 

Telling students to limit the number of AP classes they have is easy — I just did it recently. But it’s very difficult for students to follow this piece of advice because of the pressure they receive from those around them, primarily their parents and peers. 

I think that I can really relate to both of these, as my parents are always pushing me to my limits, and on top of that, my friends all want to take the same APs. I considered both of these factors when I was asked to choose my classes because, at first, I had listed five APs. It was only when I listed all of these advanced classes out loud did I realize that I would never be able to be successful in all of them at once. 

It’s always hard for people to admit that they aren’t fit to take four or five APs, and that’s fine. Jonathan Dhyne, one of the college counselors at our school, advises students to take APs in subjects that they feel passionate about, and I strongly agree. 

I personally love working with numbers in general, which is why I think that AP Calculus BC is a definite AP that I am willing to take. However, I decided to not take AP English Language and Composition because I myself am not a big fan of English. 

It takes everyone a long time to realize what they like or dislike; however, once you do, it definitely will help you decide what you want to do with your future. 

In the end, students shouldn’t feel pressured to take more APs than they can handle because we aren’t all able to handle the stress that comes along with it. Just find what you are passionate about and focus on that because, ultimately, you shouldn’t be doing something that you don’t want to do.