One of the classes I wanted to take sophomore year was AP Macroeconomics, but I was told that it never runs, so I shouldn’t choose it. I instead picked AP Microeconomics. When I arrived to my first day of that class, I was surprised to see that it had well over 30 people enrolled—but AP Macro, my first choice, could not meet the required number of students to run.
That got me wondering why AP Macro never runs, so I started to do my own research. I eventually came to the conclusion that there really isn’t any good excuse for it not to run at OHS.
The best reference on AP Macro is Mr. David Carlisle, who teaches both AP Micro and Macro, plus some business classes, and is the division chair for career and technical education at Oswego East High School.
“There’s always going to be less students signing up for Macro than Micro, because Micro also…counts as Consumer Education,” Mr. Carlisle says. Because a student can receive two credits out of one class when they take AP Micro, one of which is Consumer Education (a graduation requirement), they are more likely to take it than AP Macro. That seems to explain the difference in the numbers of students who sign up for the classes. Many people also don’t want to put a requirement onto their schedule that isn’t weighted, so they will take that extra GPA point and the AP credit instead of regular Consumer Education.
“Macroeconomics, on the other hand, is just Macroeconomics—it’s only one semester long, typically second semester, but it’s been running [at Oswego East],” Mr. Carlisle says. Being only one semester, though, doesn’t seem like it would deter too many people from taking the class. There are plenty of classes at Oswego High School that are only one semester long, but still run. These include Ancient History, Military Topics and the Digital Journalism 2 and 21st Century Journalism classes. So considering you would also get AP credit and that extra GPA point, I don’t see any reason why being only a semester long discourages people from taking the class.
Mr. Carlisle says that “a low number, somewhere in the mid-teens” is the amount of students who sign up. So even though there seemingly are deterrents to people who would otherwise chose to take the class, people still take the class.
Students who want to have an education in macroeconomics in high school will be disappointed to know that the material taught in AP Macro cannot be supplemented through other classes. You can always take AP Micro, but they will not be the same.
“Some of the fundamental concepts are similar, but it’s obviously not the same thing. Microeconomics is about individual and business decision making, where macroeconomics is about, collectively, the data that you get on a country level,” Mr. Carlisle says.
Carlisle has strong feelings on the inability of other classes to supplement this material.
“There’s other classes that may mention something, some concept in there, but certainly there’s no other equivalent courses here,” Carlisle says. “ That’s why, frankly, that I pushed for the adoption of these classes.” While there are other economics and business classes, none go as far into detail of macroeconomics as AP Macro.
AP Macroeconomics isn’t just a class useful to those interested in its material—it is a useful class for skills needed throughout life.
“It is important information for anyone to know. The basis for decision-making is a very important thing, and understanding how our economy works is key to a lot of good citizenship, as well as it’s a required class in college,” says Mr. Carlisle. So not only will one who has this information be able to do better financially and in decision making, they will also receive credit for a required college class.
“If you live in the United States or any Western country where you have an industrialized economy, if you don’t know how an economy works, or how individuals and businesses make decisions, I think you don’t start from a position of strength,” Carlisle says. Those with this material will be given an upper hand in life and will be able to navigate through their lives with much more acute, fundamental life skills.
But there may be a larger picture to look at here. The students a class such as AP Macro appeals to are the same students who want that GPA point throughout the entire year, not just one semester. And as mentioned previously, those students don’t want to take the unweighted Consumer Education so instead take AP Micro, which unlike AP Micro can fulfill that credit without bringing down your GPA. Coupled with the fact that OHS often pressures students into taking more rigorous courses, and takes great pride in being an above-average school, it is very possible that this pressure is causing students to take classes which will benefit their GPAs more than classes which will benefit them throughout life.
Students always complain of classes not being useful in the real world, but AP Macroeconomics is just the opposite. It is a study of the real world and actions in an economy that can impact everyone. It is undoubtedly important that students should know what is going on in the economy, and that is the sort of education this class would provide if implemented here at OHS.
All the administration has to do is look half a town away, over to Oswego East, to see the benefits and the few eager students of AP Macroeconomics.