Chase for AP bumps narrows skill sets




As I delve into the nightmare that is college applications, I come to an interesting realization: I don’t take many, if any, electives. In fact, this year, I only have two: journalism and journalism. This no doubt stems from the “AP push” that haunts students.

Eye of the Tiger reporter Mikayla Stearns wrote an integrous opinion story about the dangers of the so-called “AP push.” I agree with her on most of her points – and then some. I have felt the push. I know other people have, too. The push promotes bad decision-making.

What do you think would be more useful in the long-run, a fun but skill-enhancing elective (e.g. ceramics) or an AP course that doesn’t pertain to your major? I would choose the former, but my transcripts denote the latter. Do I wish I had taken more “fun” classes (i.e. electives)? Of course. But I have been indoctrinated into thinking colleges will only accept the top of the top, the cream of the crop, or any other idiom that signifies “the best.”

In twenty years I doubt I will be talking about the differences between Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, I doubt I will be dividing polynomials and proving trigonometric identities. What I do see myself doing is painting, sculpting and writing creative stories – even if only as a hobby. So while it’s great I know the different parts of the brain from an AP class, it’s not too practical.

Now at this point you might be thinking, “Fool, why don’t you just take more electives?” Well if only it was that simple. I, like a plethora of other students, aim to achieve above a 4.0. I can’t do such without taking AP classes. And then there’s the toxic system that is class rank. Each of these contribute to what is possibly the most pernicious situation of which I can think.

Imagine a scenario wherein people overwork themselves all for a number – a ranking. Where people hold grudges against other people just because they hold a higher position than them on a scale that only determines motivation to take AP classes. My friend, you have entered the world that is class rank. I will try not deviate too much from my original point – too late, I know – but just understand: The class rank system harms more than it helps; it promotes toxic competition for the betterment of one person.

Of course, I am a huge hypocrite here. I indulge in rigorous courses. I take classes at Sierra college in order to free up more spots for more APs. I am just like the person I described as malicious. So, yes: I’ve become self-aware. Twenty years down the line, it won’t matter what rank I achieved; it won’t matter if I took AP U.S. here or at Sierra. What will matter is my experience. There’s no point in overworking one’s self to the point of overwhelming stress and anxiety just for a high position.

And to the people who somehow manage to maintain a high rank without burdening one’s mental health: good on you. You should use all your spare time to actually do something fulfilling. Taking electives is a luxury few people make room for with the current system.