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The Truth About AP Classes at OHS

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Advanced Placement Program by College Board Logo

by Abigail Miller 42Fifty Staff Writer

The College Board website says that “in AP classes, just like in college, you’ll face new challenges and learn new skills in the subjects you care about. All with the support of your classmates and teachers.” But is this the reality of the AP classes at Oswego High School? How do students feel about their experiences in this kind of curriculum?

At OHS there are 680 students currently enrolled in AP courses. The senior class has the most students taking an AP class with a total of 247 students. However, the junior class has almost usurped the seniors with 245 of them taking an AP course.

The majority of students at OHS who are in AP classes are only taking one. However, over a fourth of all AP students are taking at least two classes.

Generally speaking, each AP class is different. Some have a lot of collaborative work and others are more individualized. Others give students homework every night, yet some are more flexible. Despite their differences what each class does have is its fair share of stress.

A sample size of 68 students was asked questions about their experiences in AP classes. These students were asked to rate the stress induced by AP classes on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest.

In this survey, 47.1% ranked the stress of AP classes as a 3. This result lines up with the earlier statement on the College Board’s website. These classes are brings new challenges for students, but they also have support that prevent the stress from burning them out.

However, over a fourth of students – 26.5% – ranked their stress as a 4. Looking at the rest of the survey results helps put this higher-end response into greater context.

Out of the 68 kids surveyed, 59 also said that they either have some sort of after school commitment; whether it be a job or extra curricular activities. These commitments can take up a significant amount of time that could be used for studying.

Additionally, 38.2% of students say they spend two to three hours a night on homework. Another 38.2% say they spend one to two hours. Combining this time spent studying with after school commitments and a lengthy school day is what makes AP classes so stressful.

Is all the stress worth it? Those included in the survey were also asked if they felt like AP courses had prepared them for college.

The general response seemed to be yes. Almost 53% of students agreed that AP courses have helped prepare them for college.

But, in the opinion of OHS senior Tess O’Connell, AP courses aren’t helping students prepare for college.

“I found more enjoyment and better teachers in regular style classes,” O’Connell says. “[They’re also] more centralized on concepts instead of ‘oh, let’s prepare you for this AP exam!’”.

Although around half of those involved in the survey disagreed with O’Connell, many still thought that AP classes had room for improvement. When asked how teachers could help alleviate the stress of AP classes, common threads were found amongst responders.

One of the most common responses of students was that teachers should allow for more time in class to complete assignments. Many students also would prefer that their teachers give deadlines more in advance so they can plan and begin larger assignments earlier to accommodate for their schedules.

The final common response to how teachers can help AP students is that AP teachers should try to consider student’s other responsibilities that they have outside of school. College Board says that students will face new challenges with the support of teachers and peers, so a little consideration on teachers’ parts could go a long way.

However, it is important to note that 47.8% of students surveyed believe that teachers already recognize students’ outside commitments. Another 63.2% believe that most AP teachers assign a fair amount of homework and 22.1% believe that all AP teachers assign a fair amount of homework.

No class can be perfect. But, a little change on the behalf of students and teachers alike can go a long way. Overall, students seem to understand that AP classes are a large workload that pays off in the end.

“Most AP classes are good classes and are either fun to take or very informative,” O’Connell says. “I think finding a happy balance between general education and preparing for the AP exam is important.”

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