Extra AP courses are unnecessary

March 14, 2011 — by Kim Tsai

Where is AP Government and AP Economics on the course selection list? Don’t look too long—compared to many other schools, Saratoga High seems to be severely lacking in its variety in advanced history classes. This complaint sometimes arises as students fill out course request forms.

Although Saratoga High offers many AP courses ranging from AP Music Theory to AP Physics B, the only Advanced Placement history class available for students to take is AP U.S. History. AP European used to be offered, but it was taken away after only one year. Saratoga High has never offered AP Government or AP Economics.

Many students would enjoy the addition of AP history classes, but adding these classes would cause more harm than good. Students are less stressed and have more time for college applications with fewer AP classes to take.

At first, this seems unfair to students who are looking to challenge themselves and get that extra grade boost. Many other competitive schools such as Monta Vista High and Lynbrook High offer these two classes.

By not offering AP Government and Economics, Saratoga High may be doing a disservice to students who are competing for acceptances into college. The lack of a grade boost from an extra AP class could be substantial to their GPA.

However, school is already the greatest stress factor in student lives. With parents demanding their children to take the hardest classes at school, the lack of more AP history classes can be a blessing.

According to government teacher Mike Davey, students in government already learn enough to take the AP Government test. The only thing in the AP test that a regular government class would not prepare students for is the document based questions and free-reponse questions.

The history department seems to want to keep all the students together rather than have them split into regular or advanced classes. While this does seem unfair, the AP classes would not be any different from the regular classes; the school should not need to offer the extra AP classes.

Furthermore, the slight advantage gained by the extra grade point is outweighed by the disadvantage of stratifying students into different academic tracks.

Davey believes that the lack of AP Government and AP Economics is a good thing. The lack of these offerings gives classes a greater variation of student types, allowing for more stimulating lessons on a whole. The students who are generally more studious and less talkative do not gather all in one AP history class.

In most schools, AP Government is typically a year-long course. Taking AP Government would mean that students would have another semester’s worth of classes.

With the stress that college applications bring, another AP class would just bring seniors unnecessary stress, bringing another set of work that may or may not bring a grade boost to a student’s grade.

The lack of these AP history courses also means that students can safely tell colleges that they did in fact take the most rigorous courses at their high schools.

In this case, the philosophy adopted by the history department actually benefits students. Because senior year is such a stressful time for students, any alleviation of stress can help.

In the end, a grade boost should not be worth the stress of an extra semester’s work, especially when students are frantically filling out those last-minute college applications.

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