Nearly every high school student knows of the illustrious classes known by that wonderful prefix, AP. There is a great amount of pressure for students to take AP classes in order to “prove that they are the best of the best,” despite the classes not necessarily proving this. As many students peruse the requirements to get into their dream schools, they may notice that without a certain class they won’t be able to get in, or that taking extra AP classes may advance their chances. I have heard many students say that they are only taking certain AP classes in order to boost their educational résumé and make themselves stand out, myself included. One of the largest mistakes that I have made thus far would be taking an AP class without taking its prerequisite.
In the field of engineering, it is usually the sciences more than math that causes students to quit, so I made it my goal to take as many AP science courses as I could. Unfortunately, due to scheduling, I was not able to take Honors Physics my junior year. I was left with the decision to take the AP Physics course or the Honors Physics course during my senior year, but because I knew that many of the schools that I was applying to were looking for a very vigorous course load (especially in subjects considered engineering specific), I ended up choosing AP Physics C. The expectation held in that course would be easy enough to meet, as other students had taken AP classes without taking the Honors level course. In fact, several of my friends have taken AP Psychology without taking Intro to Psychology and passed the AP exam, so I figured that AP Physics would be similar. I was wrong. Here are three of the many reasons why.
Reason #1: Extreme Confusion
Since the very first day of class, my head has been aching. This class has caused so much confusion for me personally. I hear other students complaining from confusion as well, and they have taken the introductory course. If you haven’t learned the basics of the course you will be confused for a long time. I find that when I finally figure out a concept, that we had finished covering over a month ago, the new concepts we are learning completely defeat the process.
Reason #2: Unnecessary Stress
Personally, I have several other AP classes that stress me out, but I generally understand what we are learning, this course is a different story. I have stress from this course about the stress that I’m going to have later. It is constantly causing anxiety for me because I never know what new topic will pop up that I already don’t understand while I fight to maintain my GPA in a course that I sometimes I’d rather take the F in. When I could have been spending more time relaxing during my senior year by taking an Honors Physics class and actually learning the basics at a slower pace I have ended up stressing myself out to a level that is entirely unnecessary.
Reason #3: Death to My Nearly Nonexistent Social Life
Currently, I am involved in several extracurricular activities that take up a large portion of my time. This means that on top of lacking time to hang out with friends because of extracurriculars, this AP class won’t let me out of my house. Many of my AP classes require that I spend between one to two hours on homework every other night, but this class typically has me spending three hours on it, which ends up creating a lack of available time to just be a normal teenager. While I would love to hang out with my friends, I have no time due to this course.
Though I do hate this course (with a passion) due to its unnecessary difficulty levels, I have learned few things that I will be able to take with me to college. First of all, the internet is your friend. Through various practice problems and multiple choice I was able to grasp some of the concepts I hadn’t previously, and when I encounter a course like this in the future I will know how to find resources. Secondly, making use of the teachers before and after school hours will greatly aid in your understanding of the course. I have also learned that clearly it is not a good idea to take a course that you haven’t taken a prerequisite for and that I will not be doing it in the future.