Why Menlo should get rid of AP classes

Staff reporter Abby Wolfenden explains why she believes AP classes should be removed from Menlo. Unnecessary stress and taking APs just for the grade bump among other things are part of her reasoning. Read below to find out more. Pictured above is one of the AP Economics classes. Staff photo: Eva Herr.  

By Abby Wolfenden

After completing sophomore year, I couldn’t fathom classes being any more energy draining and time consuming than those I had just finished. Menlo’s curriculum is challenging for all of its students, no matter if they take AP courses or not and, in sophomore year, I got my first taste of that. Heading into junior year, I decided to fill my schedule with AP courses. As a result, junior year was a rude awakening for me.

Since day one of junior year, my AP classes have not only added unnecessary stress to an already exigent school life, but have also infiltrated my homelife. Weekends that should be spent with family and friends, playing sports, and doing homework for my other classes are instead filled with extensive reading and writing assignments for my two AP courses.

I firmly believe that Menlo would be a far less stressful environment if APs were no longer an option in the upper school course catalog. While it is true that AP classes are important for showing college admissions how you’ve challenged yourself academically, it’s also true that colleges take into account whether or not a school offers APs. Since colleges expect students to take the most challenging courses available, they would not penalize someone if their school did not offer APs. Additionally, most colleges and universities look at unweighted grade point averages, so taking the more difficult class just for the sake of rigor and the grade bump seems ineffective.

Students need to take the classes they want to take rather than the classes they feel they have to take in order to get into a good college. This sounds redundant as I know that Menlo administrators, teachers, and counselors have drilled this advice into our heads since freshman year; however, it is absolutely true. As a humanities student, I can’t imagine being in an AP Physics or Chemistry course solely to upgrade my schedule.

The AP exam is an additional facet of AP classes that I feel is irrelevant for learning and understanding a subject. Instead of becoming a stronger writer, I am merely becoming a writer capable of completing five mediocre paragraphs during a rushed 45 minute time period. We spend our time prepping for a single exam, instead of practicing strong writing techniques.

In AP U.S. History, I want our class to be able to take our time discussing important events and details instead of hurrying to finish Alan Brinkley’s The Unfinished Nation before Friday, May 5. In AP English Literature, I want to be able to spend a week crafting the perfect response to a Jane Eyre prompt. I want to enhance my own personal writing style, instead of analyzing example essays that AP graders across the country considered “9” caliber writing.

Many students choose AP’s for the .3 grade bump. What most people don’t recognize is that honors classes at Menlo offer the same .3 boost, without the same preparation associated with the AP exam.

Advanced Placement classes are taught mechanically and intently, with pretty standard curriculums and textbooks throughout the United States. One of the things I love most about Menlo is our uniqueness and diversity in learning. Without AP’s, classes would no longer have to be taught for a final exam but finally free to cover whatever material— students would be able to finally experience the joys of learning.

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