AP Classes Product of the Academic Industrial Complex

This week, “AP season” comes to a close, and students are ecstatic to finally shut their textbooks after taking hour-long exams for days on end. Many of us will finally be sleeping in after weeks of grueling studying. I remember, at the beginning of the year, minimizing the amount of work that AP classes actually entail, believing that in the end it would all be worth it for that much needed GPA bump. However, as my junior year concludes, I realize that Advanced Placement (AP) classes and exams are in fact extremely futile in helping students achieve their academic goals. Underclassmen should especially take note as they are being lied to by peers, parents, and other adults about the wonders of AP classes.

1st of all, due to the Campo’s toxic academic environment, it is oftentimes understated how challenging AP classes are. All of the AP classes I took my sophomore and junior years came with excessive amounts of homework and frequent tests and quizzes. Some days this year, I would have to stay up well into morning hours or even work at lunchtime to finish all my homework and study adequately for assessments. These unhealthy practices have taken a toll on my mental health.

College Board, the company that creates AP courses and the SAT, also words questions in very eccentric ways, meaning that even if you have a strong conceptual understanding of certain information, a question’s word choice can easily throw you off.

Many believe that taking AP classes will automatically give you a GPA boost, as AP classes are weighted on a 5.0 scale opposed to the traditional 4.0. This is yet another lie. Anecdotally, many students’ grades have tremendously suffered due to the excessive amount of AP classes they take. Many times, totally capable smart students that would get A’s in normal highschool classes get B’s or even C’s in their AP equivalents. This leads people’s unweighted GPA, a student’s GPA from 0-4 that does not consider rigor, to plummet. Unweighted GPA is the GPA that a vast majority of colleges look at, meaning that many AP students are set up for failure.

Another ploy used by AP proponents is the notion that students could get college credit for passing the AP test. What is often overlooked is the fact that many students fail their AP exams – around 50% nationally. Many colleges only accept certain scores, meaning that in some instances, a passing grade on an exam will amount to nothing. The tests also cost families hundreds of dollars for no guaranteed payout.

Studying for these AP exams is also extremely strenuous, as oftentimes very minor details will appear on exams, and exams cover an entire year of content.

There are better alternatives to improve one’s GPA. 1 option is to take classes at a community college, which are remarkably easier than the AP classes offered at Campo. These classes are also online, and are free. Last summer, I took Intro to Sociology at Diablo Valley College. The class was asynchronous, and extremely easy and straightforward. The professor was also engaging, and I developed a parasocial relationship with him and still remember him more clearly than many of my teachers at Campo.

Another assumption that people make is that taking AP exams will automatically get you into your dream school. This is yet again another crazy farce created by the academic industrial complex. Colleges want to see that you are well rounded and have interests, not necessarily that you took 7 AP’s. Trust me, the people that just studied alone and did nothing else are not the ones going to prestigious colleges.

You should challenge yourself, but also realize that everything should come with limits. Taking 4 or 5 AP’s is a horrible idea. Your teen years are supposed to be your best, and you should try and live your more exciting life.

So, for the love of God, email your counselor to slim down your already crazy schedule. You’ll thank me later, and if you don’t, don’t say you weren’t warned. XOXO