Picture a student enrolled in a full course-load of Advanced Placement classes. What do you see? A student awake at 4:00 AM, drowning in homework and coffee? Maybe they’re hunched over a copy of ‘Crime and Punishment,’ furiously preparing for multiple tests the next day. Taking a more than just a few AP classes certainly sounds daunting, but just how hard is it to juggle five APs at once?
Signing up for an AP class means signing up for a rigorous workload. The curriculum is challenging and the expectations are high. While some students decide it’s better to take one AP class, or even none at all, others choose to take four, five, or mores. These reasons are individual to each student, ranging from wanting to get a leg up in college admissions, pursuing an academic passion, or even acquiescing to pressure from peers and parents. No matter the reason for taking a significant number of AP classes, there is no doubt that it is a commitment.
Senior Richard Zhu took five APs his junior year, during which he learned to manage his classes while simultaneously enjoying the rigorous workload. As for his motivations, there were several. “One, I like the harder classes because I learn more, two, because I kind of get bored in classes that aren’t as fast, and three because it looks good on college apps,” Zhu said.
Through his experience at EHS, Zhu found AP classes to be extremely rewarding. As for his workload, Zhu didn’t seem too fazed by the amount of work required. When asked what he does to prepare for tests, “I just study, there’s nothing really special to it, I just study.”
Similar to Zhu, senior Aarathi Garimella chose to take a heavy course load during both junior and senior years. Through her experience taking AP classes, Garimella gained knowledge outside of the classroom. It wasn’t just the material she learned, but life skills as well. “I used to get stressed out a lot, but I’ve gotten much better at managing that, which I think will help me once I go to college,” Garimella said.
As for her reasoning, Garimella said you’re “supposed to take hard classes to get into college.” However, Garimella realized that the benefits of AP classes were more than that. The credit gained from taking AP tests does not just translate to college credit, but also to shorter college years, and therefore, in certain situations, less costly tuition. To her, the benefits far outweigh the amount of work she put in.
Despite these benefits, both Zhu and Garimella cautioned against taking AP classes just because others are doing it. Though they may provide rewards, they are still the equivalent to college level courses and entail a large amount of commitment and work. “I learned that the hard way because everybody else was taking APs so I started doing it, but then I realized I wasn’t going to be as successful if I didn’t enjoy the class,” Garimella said.