Are AP classes worth the stress?

By Kiara Amaya

The possibility of standing out to top universities and a deeper education motivates students who sign up for a number of the 38 advanced placement (AP) courses offered on campus. Known for their rigor, the classes are meant to emulate and introduce college-level courses to high school students. 

In May, every AP class culminates with its corresponding final exam. The goal for students is to report successful scores to stand out in college applications. Most four-year colleges offer credits in response to passing exams as well. However, students are given a choice, taking AP classes is completely optional. To some, the classes are not worth taking due to the added workload and stress. But for many, accumulating as many AP classes as possible is of vital importance to being successful in high school. 

Being exposed to the real world is incredibly important in various ways, whether academically or practically. This provides a sense of knowledge that can’t be obtained without previous experience. In the case of college, getting a taste of what lies ahead is beneficial for a successful college experience. Just like taking the PSAT helps students know what the real SAT exam is like, AP courses have the same effect for college classes. 

However, do AP classes cause stress? Yes, this is a given. 

These courses are meant to challenge students to expand their skills. Study habits, balancing stress, and time management are critical life skills that people should strive to learn and improve upon. The workload that AP classes give to students provides an opportunity for the development of those skills at an earlier age. 

“Research consistently shows that AP students are better prepared for college than students who don’t take AP, regardless of their exam score,” according to the College Board. “They’re more likely to enroll and stay in college, do well in their classes, and graduate in four years.” 

Each course that students take offers different knowledge about the world around them. The tools needed for success are provided by teachers, and if used properly, they can lead students to feel immense satisfaction. Students experience not just the achievement of getting a four or five on the AP exam, but the feeling of being successful in a year-long course that is designed to push boundaries. This will in turn help students to walk away with improved real world skills. 

However, are those real world skills and the gained knowledge worth the stress that comes with them? Yes, the meticulous courses provide students with a sturdy foundation of both educational and life competence. Skills learned inside of AP classrooms can last and expand, proving to be helpful in the future, especially in dealing with college stress down the line. 

“I think it depends on what you want to do in the future, if you really like the subject, and if you can handle the workload,” sophomore Sabina Puertas said. “If going to a more competitive school in the future is something really important to you and you can deal with how much work is given, then I definitely think it’s worth the extra time spent.” 

Obviously taking AP classes is not a one-size-fits-all situation. There are students who consider the stress to not be worthwhile. It is also important to learn a balance between academic stress and mental health. 

“However, for the vast majority of students, it is worth it. When they get the email in July with their (likely passing) score, they should feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment,” AP world history teacher Eric Yauger said. “Nearly every student shows tremendous growth over the course of the year, and whether the students themselves see/feel that at the time, their teachers do. Regardless of what score students get on a one-day exam, just making it through the course and taking the test are things they should be proud of.” 

The choice to take an AP course or even multiple courses is one that faces many high school students. These courses take self-reflection and determination. If willing students choose to take AP classes, they will reward themselves, rising above and beyond. This reward and the skills learned throughout the process make the stress worthwhile.