BY ANNA WETTELAND
Los Alamos High School
Many people take Advanced Placement (AP) classes for the idea of becoming the smartest student or because of pressure from other students or parents. Since the Los Alamos community is highly educated, there is a lot of academic pressure for students to be the best and the smartest. Many think they have to be in all of the toughest classes, but this is so far from the truth; as different students have different limits. In addition, students in a bunch of difficult AP classes tend to be extremely stressed all of the time with their workload. AP courses cause students’ mental health to spiral and tends to leave little time for other activities including extracurriculars and friends.
Students who take multiple AP classes can be so overloaded with work that they become completely stressed out. When students are stressed they tend to not complete their best work. Additionally, the overload of work can cause inspiration to decrease in students and increase the high school dropout rates, as claimed by students Sofia Barnett and Riya Patwardhan.
Since our community stresses the importance of these classes, our community also needs to be able to recognize “warning signs of an academically stressed-out teen,” as Katy Hopkins stated while discussing the advantages and disadvantages of AP classes. Parents need to understand the stress their student is under and help them with an alternative to the situation. With our schools having no limits on course selection, students can put crazy amounts of work on themselves without even knowing it.
If Los Alamos school puts limits on how many AP classes students’ are allowed to take at any given time, then students would feel less pressure from the community. Also, students will never have to admit that they can’t do all of these classes at once; leading to way less stressed-out students, thanks to the school limiting courses for them. Overall, students taking numerous AP or difficult courses are under loads of stress and may be too afraid to say anything about it. This means our school has an obligation to do something about it, as that is the whole reason schools are there, to help our students learn in a safe environment.
Students in AP courses tend to get a lot of homework, causing them to not be able to do as many things outside of school. This can put students into a harmful state as it could force them to stay up into early morning hours to finish class assignments. These are the consequences that our students have to face when they are so unbelievably overworked and don’t know what fun looks like anymore. According to student Kiara Amaya, it is “important [for students] to balance between academic stress and mental health.”, and that is very difficult to do when in multiple high-stress AP courses. Without a vice, students can go down a rabbit hole and never get up as they are constantly getting buried with more and more assignments. Additionally, if students are not able to do extracurriculars, they definitely will have less time for hanging out with friends. Though high school is about learning, it needs to be fun with friends and extracurriculars.
Not only do friends and extracurriculars need time, but certain religions could require time from students that they just don’t have to offer. The workload might be too taxing to balance everything and parents could be upset about the lack of dedication to religion.
AP classes allow the opportunity to get college credits in high school and a weighted GPA. Though these are real advantages, the high school courses generally don’t prepare students for the test, which gives you the credit. Many of my peers have spent the entire year in a course structured for the AP test, and still don’t feel prepared. This causes the students at LAHS in these classes to have to prepare for these tests out of class, most of the time leading them to not pass. Furthermore, if you are taking an AP class it should be in a field you are interested in, this would cause you to probably want to take this class again as this could be a possible major. Many people just take AP courses for a weighted GPA and the title of being in an AP course, this is the wrong way to approach AP classes and many should take them to help further knowledge, not just grades.
Before the 2023-2024 registration period LAHS needs to limit the number of AP courses a student can register for, in any given year. In addition, the parents and community members of Los Alamos should not add academic pressure on students where it is not needed. By realizing our students’ limits, our community can help relieve some stress and worry from high school students’ backs. The beneficial nature of AP classes doesn’t outweigh the cons and they should be limited for the health of our students.