Advanced Placement classes, also known as AP classes, were created by the College Board as a means to offer college-level curriculum and college credit to high school students. Here at Burlingame, it is very popular to take these courses, and starting junior year, students have the freedom to take as many AP classes as they please.
Although BHS offers 17 different AP classes, due to the lack of space in the schedule as well as the difficulty of these classes, students must carefully choose which AP classes they will take.
“I selected my classes based on the interests I had while maintaining a balance in my workload because I knew that I had an incredibly busy year ahead,” senior Claire Beswick said.
There are several different motives for students to take AP classes whether they enjoy the personal challenge, want to receive college credit, or feel that it is a necessary step to be admitted into certain colleges.
“I felt the need to take more than two AP classes to show colleges that I am challenging myself,” junior Evan Mahaffey said.
While it is common to take AP classes at BHS, many students choose not to. There are also students who feel they can manage the workload of taking multiple AP classes. However, much of the Burlingame student body falls somewhere in between. There is a large gap in difficulty between AP and college preparatory (CP) options, yet there are no classes offered in between these two levels.
“For history, there should be something in between AP and CP,” Mahaffey said.
Burlingame does offer the course, Spanish 4 Honors; however, there are no honors courses offered for the core classes that students are required to take for all four years of high school. Because choosing between two starkly different classes may force students to have to make sacrifices, the option to take honors classes could help to make the course selection process less difficult.
But, at the same time, the endless options that would be available by increasing the variety in levels could amplify the stress of selecting a class.
“I don’t think there should be something in between AP and CP because in terms of scheduling that would be extremely hard on the teachers and counselors,” Beswick said.
The idea of offering more honors classes has been proposed to Burlingame in the past but the proposition was rejected. Without the benefits of a substantial grade bump or college credit, students did not see the advantage in taking more difficult courses. The impact of these courses on a student’s grade-point average is controversial and the lines of how to treat the different levels are much more blurred than those for the distinct AP and CP classes.
Because AP courses have a universal curriculum, the college credit and GPA weighting that come with it are concrete and inarguable ideas. The flexible nature of the credit and grade bumps received in honors classes opens up debate about fairness, and students and families would likely argue against a less concrete system if they feel it is unfair.