Teachers advocate for Advanced Placement classes



A cartoon depicting a student debating whether to take AP classes or not

Sam Spray, Managing Editor

The Advanced Placement class as we know it today was welcomed into the high school atmosphere in the mid-1950s. They were created as a way to better prepare students for more rigorous college challenges, yet have transformed into so much more.

Now, these classes provide students with opportunities that high school scholars of the past could only dream of. They not only supply students with challenging courses that will allow them to obtain a better education, but also allow those who excel in these courses to gain college credit for a significantly discounted price.

AP classes are designed to mimic the workload and pace of college courses during high school. The classes present an opportunity for college credit through the utilization of cumulative tests at the end of each course, which measure students’ retention of the material covered throughout the year.

These tests are administered in May and are graded on a scale from one to five, with five being the highest score. A five indicates that a student is extremely well qualified to receive credit, while a one means that a student is not recommended to receive credit, according to College Board.

However, it is up to the college a student chooses to attend to decide what score qualifies for credit. For example, Michigan State University typically gives students credit for a three or above.

The University of Michigan, on the other hand, usually gives credit for a four or above. If concern about credit arises, Milford counselor Gina Pryor recommends that students go to the website(s) of the college(s) of interest and check the specific course(s) in question, as requirements change depending upon college and course, and can also change from year to year.

Even if the score does not qualify for credit, AP classes provide opportunities that make them ‘worth it’. As said by Pryor, “For students with an interest in [the courses available], the experience of the workload can be a benefit.”

Milford AP US History teacher Chris Eichbauer elaborated on this, saying, “AP classes better prepare students for college (when compared to high-school-level classes)  in terms of expectations, thinking skills, and learning demands outside of class.”

These classes are meant to push students by demanding critical thinking that is unmatched in regular high school courses. When comparing the US History 10 curriculum to that of the College Board in the subject of US History, the course that AP students are subject to is much more detailed than that of the normal course. It also spans a longer period of time and requires more work outside of class, Eichbauer said. This all adds up to create students who are mentally prepared for the challenges of college, and willing to face them.

As said by MHS Junior Avrie Shettler, who is taking her first AP classes this year, “I decided to take AP’s because I wanted a good understanding and feel for what college will be like and wanted to get a better understanding for what I’m interested in doing for a career.”

AP courses also provide “Environments with students who are eager to learn,” said Eichbauer. Because these courses are taken mostly by students who are looking at college as a future opportunity, the atmosphere of the classroom(s) is/are more focused. If most people in a room are giving their all with the hope of excelling at the task at hand, the chances are, those who do not feel as motivated will be brought up by their peers.

The last major benefit of taking AP classes is the boost they bring to a student’s GPA. While some may argue that AP classes should not be taken just to bolster GPAs, it is undeniable that they are both excellent opportunities to do so, and act as safety blankets that prevent one bad grade from plummeting a student’s GPA, due to the fact that they are weighted. At this point, high GPAs are expected by top tier colleges, so without the aid that AP courses provide, it will be significantly harder to get into such highly competitive schools.

For these reasons, many AP teachers and students argue that these classes bring numerous benefits.

For those who wish to dedicate the necessary time to these courses, they are of value, as they save money and allow for higher GPAs, which can help students when applying to colleges. Therefore, they can be good endeavors for the devoted student.