Potential AP Students, Beware [OPINION]


Photo Credit: Kathryn Saunders

It’s two A.M and my eyes are burning from a mixture of sleep deprivation and tears. 

There’s not enough time for this. 

The topic is the slave trade, or Shakespeare, or pollution. And I can’t find the will to care about any of it. The worst thing is that these are topics that I actually care about.

I can’t remember when I started to fall behind. I can’t help but wonder how many students feel the same. If my classmates are all pretending to keep it together while they’re all collapsing under the weight of stress. 

The immense amount of stress that I have been under always leads me to question whether taking AP classes is worth it. 

For the 2022-23 school year, one AP exam costs $96 (College Board does not disclose how this money is used). That is absolutely ridiculous, especially considering that College Board, the company that owns the AP program, is a non-profit.

Homework in AP classes can pile up very quickly. My time is limited, so it is difficult to find space to calm down. With hours of homework to do, it literally feels hard to breathe. I often wonder what it would be like if I had less homework and more time to do insane things like hanging out with my friends more, and leaving my house on a Friday night. 

AP classes are most definitely my greatest source of stress. Due to APs culture, I have convinced myself that it should be easy to get a 4 or 5 on an exam, especially if I would like to be guaranteed college credit. Endless time would not stop from being dissatisfied with my results, since the pressure to succeed and be perfect in AP classes is extremely high. 

I swear that my AP classmates are always trying to subtly one-up each other and humble brag. Many students take AP classes simply to boost their GPAs or pad their transcripts for college applications. This behavior breeds a highly competitive environment. When we aren’t talking about sitting at desks to do homework more than we sit with our families, or gaining extra credit, students are high focused on the future. Although I think that this is important, I would love to not have to constantly think about getting to the front of the curve for a test, or choosing classes that will boost my GPA. 

A score of 3 or above is passing, and can potentially be used toward college credit. However, many private universities put limits on the amount of AP credit that can be transferred. For example, the University of Denver caps the amount of AP credits transferred to be equivalent to 45 quarter credit hours out of the 183 credit hours necessary to graduate. Some universities don’t even take AP credits at all. Colorado College allows a maximum of 8 out of 32 units to be transferred towards first-year’s degrees. To add on to this, taking multiple AP courses can decrease your chances of performing well on exams since you have more exams to prepare for.

AP classes may be upheld as a challenging alternative to grade level courses, but the culture around AP classes provides a challenging alternative to living a normal teenage life.