Does the AP class stress pay off in the end?

Each year, a new group of oblivious students enter their first year of high school, and therefore their first chance to take a class with the two letters “AP” in front of it. While they may know it means “Advanced Placement,” they have no clue what they signed up for, and the track they started for their high school career. So does taking these classes really pay off in the future? 

As I finished my eighth grade year at Highland Oaks Middle School, my teachers introduced us to a new level of classes available for those who wanted a challenge. They told us that A.P. classes were college-level classes that count as college credits, and if you pass enough of them (both the class and final end-of-year exam), you could graduate from college early.

  At first, it seemed harmless. The words “AP World History” didn’t scare many of us, but little did we know what our teachers just got us into. For ninth graders at Krop, the first A.P. you can take is A.P. World History with History teacher and department chair, Mary Lee. Just as I recognized that name when I first heard it, I’m sure many of you know, her reputation precedes her. Easily one of the toughest years of my high school career ensued, and the letters “AP” were never the same in my mind. 

“When I took my first AP in sophomore year, it was quite the experience,” senior Maria Alzate said. “Now that I’m applying for college, I’m really happy I decided to take the APs I did, I feel like they show how hard I worked and made my application more balanced.”

  The point of taking these classes is to separate yourself from other applicants when you apply for college. By taking multiple A.P. classes (and maintaining good grades), you demonstrate your ability to handle challenging work, which colleges both prefer and prioritize. 

According to the College Board, more than 2.8 million students in grades 9-12 took A.P. classes in 2019. Some of the more popular classes include Calculus, English Language and Literature, Psychology, World History and Statistics. At the end of each school year, each class has an exam, which covers important topics from throughout the year. The exam is graded on a number scale from one to five. A score of a three or higher is usually accepted for college credit, and can allow students who take and pass several A.P.s to skip introductory classes in the beginning of college.

“AP classes were a great way to challenge yourself in high school, but did it help with college applications?” said UF alumnus Isaac Hetzroni. “Hard to say, but it was helpful nonetheless to come into college with credits, which allowed me to graduate early.”

While colleges do not clearly require a certain amount of APs, there are patterns in admitted students for different colleges. For example, the University of Georgia class of 2025 averaged between seven and 12 APs taken during their high school years, according to the UGA Admissions website. Popular schools in Florida, like Florida State University, had an average between eight and nine in their class of 2025. For those who wish to jeopardize their sanity, Ivy League schools, such as Harvard, the average was between eight and twelve; however, credits were only given to students who scored a five on their AP exam. 

Coming from a junior who has taken seven AP classes, I can tell you that freshman year was the hardest. Getting used to taking these classes is definitely harder than actually taking multiple A.P.s, once you have already gotten used to the speed and detail of the course. 

“APs really helped me stand out to colleges during the application process. The classes did take effort to do well, but in the end, it only helped me be different from other applicants,” said Krop alumnus Theo Nudel. “Colleges want to see that you’re ready to be in a faster-paced environment and there’s no better way than AP classes. I came into college with credit already from my high school classes and it made me different from other applicants.”

While the final answer of if taking these classes truly is worth it lies in the personal preference of the student, advice from college students and graduates from Krop can help in deciding whether it makes a difference. As stated by Krop alumni, what you do now will affect your future, so keep that in mind when doing anything. However, always remember this: you’re a high schooler, you don’t get this time back or a chance to redo it, so make a decision and don’t look back.