AP for all

South High offers many AP choices, but only one is available for freshmen

Social studies teacher Adam Weiss works on grading during his planning period. Weiss teaches AP Human Geography, which is available for freshmen to take.

Addie Bogad

Social studies teacher Adam Weiss works on grading during his planning period. Weiss teaches AP Human Geography, which is available for freshmen to take.

A class that shows hard work, dedication, and causes worry–this is an AP class in a nutshell.

Some people believe that AP classes should be available to more students, in lower grade levels, while others think they should only be available to upperclassmen.

“I believe that AP classes should be made more available to lower grade levels, in particular, freshmen, sophomores, as well as expanding the plethora of current AP selections for upperclassmen. A little choice never hurts anybody,” said junior Ethan Wood.

Furthermore, a student can take as many AP classes as they want in a semester. But according to freshman Emma Farroll, who currently takes AP Human Geography, managing classes of that rigor can be difficult.

“After talking to my friends in U.S. History, I can see how much harder AP Human Geography is compared to the other freshman history class. I also saw that their workload was a lot less than ours. In my opinion, the class can be really overwhelming and stressful at times,” said Farroll.

Wood takes three AP classes, AP Computer Science, AP Government, and AP Language & Composition. While taking all these classes is impressive, they can also cause a strain on his schedule.

“Well, to be fair, it’s complicated. Each individual class varies in difficulty, according to the specific subject matter, or even the teacher themselves,” said Wood. “However, as a general fact, yes, AP classes put excessive pressure on my schedule.”

But it is not just the students that have opinions on AP classes, teachers also have varying thoughts about these types of classes. For example, the AP Human Geography teacher Adam Weiss believes he teaches his class the same way it would be taught at a college level. 

“I don’t teach my classes any differently, and I don’t think that the classes at a college level would be taught differently than the ones at South,” said Weiss.

However, AP World History teacher, Steff Guzman, disagrees.

“College is more challenging. In college, students are more responsible for their own learning than in high school,” she said. “In high school, there is more structure, support, and scaffolding for students, in order to prepare them for a college-level course.”

Nevertheless, there is a certain topic that both students and teachers can find a common ground on–this being the AP exam. Both of these groups believe that this exam is very useful to students, and should be taken if possible.  

The AP exam is an exam taken near the end of the year over everything you learned in your AP class. The AP exam is not required, and it costs $100 if you want to take it. The test is scaled on a range from 1-5, and the higher number you get, the more likely you are to get college credit for that class. If you get a score of 3 or above on the exam, many colleges will accept that score as college credit and can save you money.

“If you are successful in an AP class, you should take the exam. I understand that it’s $100, but if you pass it, it’s college credit,” said Weiss. “Even if you don’t pass, it’s a good experience in terms of understanding what a test like that looks like and feels like” 

Additionally, Wood also agrees that a student should take the AP exam.

“For what you’re getting out of it, you should most definitely take it. Especially if you are uniquely skilled within a subject matter, the potential savings for college far outweigh the cost. That being said, the frontward price is expensive, and could prevent underprivileged pupils from partaking in this opportunity, through no fault of their own,” he said.

Although, AP classes other than social studies are offered at South. These are classes such as AP Studio, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Literature, and many more.  

In AP Studio, students choose a theme or question that they explore over the course of the year, and do multiple projects on it that they will assemble into a portfolio. But the AP Studio teacher Eric Ludlow does not believe that this class should be taken by freshmen.

 “I do not think that freshmen should be able to take AP Studio, because the class is modeled after an entry-level college art class and the students are expected to do very advanced projects,” said Ludlow. “Furthermore, the students are expected to take some introductory art classes in order to learn some fundamental skills before they take the class.”

Additionally, John Heath, the teacher in both APCS Principles and APCS A (two classes that deal with coding and computing skills), also believes that these classes should not be taken by freshmen.

“AP Computer Science Principles is set up for students to get an introductory feel for the rigor of an AP class. This course is also taken by seniors who are interested in the field of computer science,” said Heath. 

Teachers and students of higher grade levels are not the only ones with opinions on this matter. Faroll has her own opinions on this subject, such as her thoughts on AP classes’ difficulty level, compared to an actual college class.

“I think that it’s an all-around course, so you can’t really change it for certain reasons. They took that course for a reason, so there shouldn’t be any leniency,” said Farroll.

Additionally, Weiss said the freshmen in his AP Human Geography class are doing well. 

“Freshmen are handling this class better than expected. The vast majority of those taking the class are able to handle the higher level curriculum and expectations,” said Weiss. “And from scanning the unit one test, I can see that they are doing just as well as the juniors and seniors in the class.”

Furthermore, Weiss also comments on the freshmen work ethic.

“The positive I see is that freshmen have a higher, more rigorous work ethic. However, the trade is due to juniors and seniors having more life and class experience, meaning they can bring more to class discussions, and bring their thinking to a different level,” he said.

Furthermore, both groups (teachers and students), believe that AP classes look better on a college transcript.

“Of course. It is a known fact that they do,” said Guzman.

Additionally, Farroll agrees with Guzman and notes the true essence of an AP class. 

“Yes, they look better, as they show hard work and dedication, but also that you’re challenging yourself,” said Farroll.