In the last few weeks, I have had the same question from parents of incoming 10th and 11th grade students...."should my child take that AP class?" While politically, I have my own thoughts about Advanced Placement courses and the rat race that many of our students have unexpectedly jumped into, the question goes beyond my ethical perspective. An AP class is an intense commitment.
AP courses are a new concept for many parents, even those that attended high school and university in the United States. Parents have shared their own high school experience with me and whether they took/did not take AP classes and they still got in to college X.
Times have certainly changed in the last 15-20 years in post-secondary admissions.
Research supports the position that students who participate in a rigorous course of study while in high school perform much better in college than other peers their age. Rigor to us adults (as we remember our high school career) is much different than rigor to current high school students.
I support students that choose to take the AP class over an honors or non honors class, to an extent. If the student has the appropriate background and preparation for the class, then they certainly should have the opportunity to take the class.
Students should always have the opportunity to experience the insane intensity that is an AP course. If it's too much, then they definitely need to consider other options and drop the class. Sometimes taking one AP course over another may not be in the best interest of the individual student (and we as adults should be able to say that).
To the parents, please allow the child the opportunity to experience it and allow them to say that it is OK or too much. From what I see, one of the big challenges parents of new high school students encounter is helping their teenager make the decision to screw up or overwhelm themselves.
Young people will have a challenging time in the future if someone else makes decisions for them and if they don't learn how to screw up, especially in high school. Making the decision to take an AP course is a very big decision for a young person. The best thing an adult can do is help their young person come to the conclusion of taking the course or not taking the course.
Now, the bigger question to pose is balance. Is there a balance in the young person's life-academically and socially? Why do people take AP classes? "To look good for college" of course! However, colleges are not only looking at a child's transcript of several AP classes, colleges also look at students that have made a contribution (of some sort) to their community, have enjoyed an Art class on the weekends, who come alive when they play the violin in front of an audience. Character comes in more that one package and is not always evident in the amount of AP classes a child takes in their high school career.
I do encourage you all to check out a previous blog post specifically on AP classes and be realistic in determining a student's abilities. Ask for guidance from a counselor, teacher, or someone else that knows not only the student well, the AP program well.
Or ask ME and I may be able to help guide you in the right direction...or at least help you ask the right questions!