AP: What’s in it For Seniors?

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Hannah Nelson, Staff Writer

As the 2019-2020 school year sets in, Chino Hills High School seniors prepare for another year, a year which for many of them will be quite rigorous. Many seniors are taking AP classes this year, and there are many AP classes, like Government, Economics, Literature, and Psychology, which are specific to seniors. The classes are available, so why not take them? This is the thought of many seniors who are accustomed to taking as many AP classes as possible each year. And there certainly are some benefits to taking AP classes. They show that a student has a desire to and is capable of taking challenging courses and they allow a student to potentially get college credit. They supposedly help a student get into college and save them some money once they are there.

However, in recent years it turns out that many colleges will not accept passing grades on AP exams for credit, though sometimes will use them as general credits and not credits for the class they were meant to be for. Some schools use them to place students in a higher course level, and some will not use them at all. This is especially true with more competitive private schools, where everyone accepted took AP classes and passed the exams. Because of this, the AP class situation is unique for seniors. Colleges will not see their AP scores before they admit them and are unlikely to rescind their admission because of failed or not taken AP exams, so part of the incentive for seniors to take exams at all is gone. If the colleges to which these students are applying will not see their scores and will not accept passing scores for credit, there is no reason to take the exams except for personal accomplishment. Because of this, some seniors decide not to take exams. This possibly alters their view towards the classes, because AP classes are generally focused on perfect tunnel-vision on the exams.

Sonel Raj, a senior this year taking multiple AP classes, says that seniors should take AP classes to help with college and to improve their class rank. She is hoping to get credit in college for her scores and says that she will be taking AP exams at the end of the year for this reason. Vanessa Qi, on the other hand, said, “If colleges are not going to see that I took AP classes and my AP scores, I would not take them.” She is, however, taking AP classes this year and plans on taking the exams, because she either thinks they’re useful (as is the case with AP Economics) or they relate to her intended major (true for Physics 2 and Calculus BC). Sonel and Vanessa think that AP classes will help them get into certain colleges but also generally believe that they will help them be better prepared for college, whether or not their exams this year will benefit them.

When determining whether or not to take certain AP classes as a senior, this is what matters. It would look bad if a student were to take several AP classes in previous years and then suddenly not take any, but with so many AP classes available to seniors one should not just take as many as possible just to get into college. One should focus on the personal growth that one will get out of a class and how much it will really help them in college. According to Vanessa, “It’s nice to offer challenging courses to students at a higher level, but I don’t think AP teachers take into much consideration that we as students have many other things to do.” This is an important thing to consider when choosing classes for senior year. Everything in moderation. A challenge is good, but this is not the year to overload oneself