AP Classes: a Necessity for the College-Driven

Mr. Samuel Knox

With college on the seniors’ minds, everyone is wondering if their SAT scores are high enough, if their GPA is up to par, and whether or not their essay says what they intend it to. However, one thing that students tend to put in the back of their mind is the number of Advanced Placement (AP) classes they have taken and how they will have performed in those classes.

At Champlain Valley Union High School there are 10 AP classes offered: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Calculus, Statistics, U.S. Government and Politics, Studio Art, Music Theory, Human Geography, and English. All of these classes are yearlong and the demand for enrollment is high. For classes such as Human Geography and Government, it takes as many as three blocks to fill the demand, and even then there are many students stuck on the waiting list. Although it is great that so many students are interested in these classes, it is quite upsetting for many to hear that CVU cannot meet their demands– all students should have access to these critical college-level classes.

The big question is why are students so intent on taking these classes? Ben Wetzell, a CVU junior taking two APs, explained it perfectly. “When I went and toured at Tufts [University], they said that you should definitely be taking AP classes! For them, it is an indicator of your work ethic.” Bay Foley-Cox, a senior who has taken a total of five APs, elaborated on this idea, “In a world where attending college in incredibly important, students in high school should gain some exposure to what it is like to take a college course. I think AP classes encompass a lot of the values in terms of education that we treasure at CVU. Also, every single admissions session I have attended has said that they are looking for a difficult class load and a good performance in those classes.” Wetzell and Foley-Cox have captured the very reason APs exist: to give students the opportunity to experience college level work before attending college. This is something that colleges love to see as it gives them a sense of how students deal with average high school courses as well more challenges ones.

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However, AP classes have a lot more benefit than just “looking good for colleges.” Nicole Eaton, a senior who is enrolled in both AP Government as well as AP Statistics, believes, “AP classes aren’t just something you do so you can boost your application! For me, I have always been really interested in politics as well as statistics, but I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to pursue in college. By taking those AP classes, I was hoping to discover which one I prefered and at the same time receiving college credit. They were critical for me.”

This is another factor of AP classes that make them so important for those looking to major in a specific field in college. For those who find themselves loving many different subjects in school, but wanting to hone in on that one thing that they really love, AP classes provide them with this opportunity. As opposed to introductory level classes that most high school classes are, AP classes really allow people to dive deep into college content and find out if they really enjoy what they want to major in and possibly spend the rest of their life doing. AP classes are an investment into your future that has a low-risk but an incredibly high reward.

Daniel Bernier, a student who wants to major in biology, feels similar to Eaton. “When I was a sophomore, I knew I liked science but I had no clue which field I wanted to major in. By taking multiple sciences such as AP Chemistry as well as AP Biology, I have come to the conclusion that biology is the major for me, and due to my success in that class, I can skip the introductory course in college.”

In a world where college, and more importantly a major, is very important, going into a university and knowing the skills one has is very valuable. Although AP classes can be a major source of anxiety for kids during high school, they can also give students peace of mind when choosing what they want to major in and pursue as a career later in life. For this reason, AP classes should be, in the words of Bennett Cheer, a CVU class co-president, “a necessity, not just an option,” for anyone applying to college.

After overhearing Bernier, CVU junior Cooper Snipes chimed in, “From experience, I can say that taking AP classes has been extremely beneficial for me. This semester, I am enrolled in a human [biology] class at UVM and the pace is really fast. If I hadn’t taken an AP class prior to this course, I don’t think I would be surviving… it is a completely different ball game than high school classes.” AP classes are both a challenge as well as a necessity. Because students can discover what their interests are, find out if they are ready for the college challenge, and potentially receive college credit, it will seem to many that the benefits of enrolling in AP classes are remarkable.