Grandview's Source for Student-Centered News.

The Grandview Chronicle

Grandview's Source for Student-Centered News.

The Grandview Chronicle

Grandview's Source for Student-Centered News.

The Grandview Chronicle

AP Human Geography Isn’t as Stressful as It Seems

Jolene Pacheco
Students often have discussions in class in order to better understand topics, this discussion was centered around the invention of race.

Coming into high school, freshmen are faced with lots of new opportunities, one of which is taking their first AP class: AP Human Geography. It can seem stressful to attempt to handle work and tons of other tasks, but students and their teachers are saying that it is more than possible to manage AP Human Geography work and other activities. 

Josie Sherman is a freshman and is balancing four different clubs including Speech and Debate and Math Club as well as her all honors schedule and AP Human Geography. 

Even though her schedule is cramped with activity, Sherman says that AP Human Geography has served as a good learning experience for her. 

“I think that AP Human Geo is a useful class,” Sherman said. “Although it’s a stressful class, it teaches you a lot of time management and ways to deal with stress.”

Josie Sherman, 9th Grade (Jolene Pacheco)

Mr. John Ketterlin has been teaching AP Human Geography for over a decade. He believes that one of the most important things about learning to manage an AP class is finding a balance. 

“I don’t want you guys to be panicking and freaking out about the class but I also want you to take it really seriously,” Ketterlin said. “No one ever finds a perfect balance of that.”

John Ketterlin, AP Human Geography teacher (Jolene Pacheco)

Another thing new to students experiencing AP for the first time is the AP test at the end of the course. The AP test determines whether or not students will receive college credit for the class. 

“It’s the ultimate test for students,” Ketterlin said. 

The test is still months away, but students are already beginning to think about whether or not their typical study strategies are going to prepare them enough for the test. 

“I think that I’ll definitely have to do some studying but I think that I’ll do decent on the test,” Sherman said. 

Students often find themselves implementing study strategies that they’ve used before because those strategies can serve as a familiar way to learn new content. 

“I use a lot of flashcards and I study in groups,” Sherman said. 

The Human Geography teachers have also provided many studying resources to their students. 

“There’s a bunch of good stuff out there,” Ketterlin said.  “The pandemic has benefited us because we were forced to put everything online and a lot of those resources stayed there”

The content of the class touches on many topics including conflicts between regions of our world, culture, and migration patterns. Lots of students find interest in the content.

Lots of notes are taken throughout the course of AP Human Geography. (Jolene Pacheco)

“I like learning [Human Geography content] and about how other countries differ from our own,” Sherman said.

There is definitely a lot of content to be learned in AP Human Geography, but at Grandview the course is stretched out to a full year. This helps students have more time to go over all of the content before the test. 

“There’s a big expectation on the amount that you need to know,” Ketterlin said. “One thing about AP Human Geography [at Grandview] is that it is a year long AP course. Like, at Cherry Creek [and other schools], they teach it to seniors but they teach it in a semester. We teach it spread out over a full year so we have some more time [to learn and review content].”

Students are still figuring out how much they need to study in order to go well in AP Human Geography.

“The worst part is probably the homework because it’s a lot,” Sherman said, “but it’s manageable most of the time.”

There may be lots of assignments to keep track of as well as dates for tests and quizzes, but teachers don’t expect that students spend all of their time on AP Human Geography.

Students are constantly reading chapters from The Cultural Landscape textbook in order to prepare for in class tests and quizzes as well as the AP test. (Jolene Pacheco)

“I think it’s a realistic expectation that if [students] spend about 45 minutes studying everyday that [they] would be able to get all of the stuff done that [they] needed to do for class: homework, studying, and preparation for tests,” Ketterlin said.

The stress level of students taking AP Human Geography has a pattern. 

“Usually students’ stress levels start very high and then slowly taper down over time, then stress comes back up again around finals and around the big unit tests,” Ketterlin said. 

Students’ experiences tend to reflect this pattern. 

“At first it seemed really easy to me, then we got into more complex things and it got a little bit more [stressful],” Sherman said.

AP Human Geography can seem like a lot for someone who is taking an AP class for the first time but other AP classes tend to be more difficult. 

“The feedback I get from my AP World History student is ‘oh, Human was easy’,” Ketterlin said. “Not to burst any bubbles, but that’s where students are headed, unfortunately.”

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