Are students aiming too high?

Enrollment in AP classes skyrockets


Grace Nickas

AP testing has ended and has left students feeling relieved yet frustrated over the fact that the tests are lacking importance due to stress and being forced to miss school in order to take a test.

Over the past few years, more and more high school students have been enrolling in advanced placement classes, according to enrollment numbers released by the College Board.  More commonly known as AP, these classes originated from a program that started in the mid to late 1950s with the goal of allowing high school students to experience what a college-level class was like.  These classes were extremely popular among students who were looking for a more-involved experience than regular high school courses offered at the time. But over the past decade or so the numbers of students enrolled has skyrocketed.

Along with the rise of enrollment, more and more courses have been introduced.  At the beginning of the program, there were less than 10 courses being offered, including math, science and Latin, compared to nowadays where the number sits at 38 classes.  West Linn alone offers 24 courses including AP Music Theory, AP French and Spanish and AP Statistics. The variety of classes is great: if people find a subject that they are extremely interested in, then they could have an opportunity that most people wouldn’t be able to have. But along with this comes a culture of pressure around kids who don’t take AP classes.

“I’ve definitely felt a sort of pressure to take an AP class even since before I started high school,” Ethan Arterberry, junior, said.“But it feels like junior year it’s especially present.”

“The first two years of high school made it seem like AP classes were optional,” Isabel Preligera, junior, said. “But coming into junior year, it almost felt like I had to take multiple AP classes.”

This pressure to take high-level classes have been changing what the classes main goals are.  AP classes have stopped being that early college experience for some students and more of a class for students to raise their GPA’s.

But students aren’t to blame for this change. In most cases, students who want to pursue a higher education feel like they must take AP classes in order to go to college, but this is simply not true at all.  This could cause more and more stress for students in school even if they don’t even need to take the classes.

Currently, around 41 percent of students take AP classes and a large amount of those students do very well in those classes, but in the process of taking and doing well in those classes, they could be adding a new level of stress to the already too large amounts of stress that teenagers feel.