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Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

APs or Actually Problematic?

Students+need+to+normalize+taking+a+variety+of+classes+that+are+not+necessarily+APs+so+that+they+have+non+stressful+and+fun+classes+in+between+their+more+challenging+ones.+%E2%80%9CI%E2%80%99m+not+against+APS%2C%E2%80%9D+junior+Nero+Xu+said.+%E2%80%9CI+think+APs+are+a+good+challenge+and+can+help+you+look+good+for+colleges.+What+I%E2%80%99m+against+is+students+cramming+APs+even+though+they+clearly+don%E2%80%99t+like+it+or+are+overwhelmed+by+it.%E2%80%9D+
Claire Liu
Students need to normalize taking a variety of classes that are not necessarily APs so that they have non stressful and fun classes in between their more challenging ones. “I’m not against APS,” junior Nero Xu said. “I think APs are a good challenge and can help you look good for colleges. What I’m against is students cramming APs even though they clearly don’t like it or are overwhelmed by it.”

As students choose their new classes for the next year in March, there is a concerning trend: students cram their schedules with Advanced Placement (AP) classes, not because they are interested in those subjects but because they think it will make them look appealing for colleges. Though APs can provide students with a challenging academic experience that prepares them for the future, taking too many at once can overwhelm students with work and stress compared to taking a class that students actually have an interest in. 

Keeping this in mind, students should balance their course schedule by learning to take classes that they are genuinely interested in, not just to boost their GPA. 

“Students are like ‘This is an opportunity to increase my GPA,’” school counselor Nicole Epres said. “I think in general they should really be looking at the class itself, what is being taught and if it aligns with their interests, because at the end of the day it’s not about that GPA. It’s about what you are learning, what are you taking away from this class that you can apply to for your future.”

Taking non-AP classes can expose students to new interests and skills that can be difficult to learn when they grow older. For example, sophomore Liv Skeete takes one non-academic class she is interested in every year to expose herself to new interests. 

“I take things that are difficult to learn later in life that are very accessible in high school,” Skeete said. “Like, as an adult if you haven’t taken vocal lessons before, or you haven’t done art class before, there’s not many adults that would go out there and do that for themselves. So I figure we have these amazing opportunities available at our school to go explore new things and I like to take advantage of them.” 

Despite what most may think, cramming a schedule with APs does not boost college admissions significantly. Colleges look for students who continuously improve and challenge themselves across their entire high school career, not just in one year, and reducing one or two AP classes does not greatly reduce chances of admissions, according to CollegeVine

Cramming APs can lead to a loss of identity as well, as students defer pursuing their own passion projects and taking interesting classes for the sake of college, as junior Nero Xu learned. He believes that there should be a healthy balance between challenging oneself with APs and leaving room for interests. 

“If we’re just doing things for the sake of college applications, we leave no room for ourselves to explore topics that we might actually want to pursue in the future because we want to look good for colleges,” junior Nero Xu said. “I feel like we’re forgetting the basis of our identity as people in favor of just, I suppose, being the one blind good student that we think colleges want.” 

For the chance to learn new skills, students need to normalize taking classes that they are interested in even if they are not APs or Honors classes. 

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About the Contributors
Elizabeth Gao, Staff Writer
Elizabeth Gao is a staff writer for her first year on the Portola Pilot. This is her last year at Portola, but she’s honored to be writing for the Pilot. When she’s not stuck on a multiple choice question, she either lets her nine birds pull at her hair or she listens to Taylor Swift and tries to find as many lines from songs that help her understand her feelings.
Stephanie Hwang, Assistant News Editor
Stephanie Hwang is the Assistant News Editor for her first year on Portola Pilot. This year, she hopes to connect with Portola Pilot members and learn all that she can. When she’s not playing indie games or attempting to monopolize the cafeteria’s daily supply of vinegar chips, Stephanie can be found trying to finish all the new books she’s been collecting. Or lamenting about her upcoming tests.
Claire Liu, Staff Writer
Claire Liu is a staff writer for her first year on the Portola Pilot. This year, she’s hoping to experiment with journalism and find a unique creative voice. If she’s not in a comatose state because of sleep deprivation, you can find her doodling on her phone, listening to old Italian men, or watching long-form improv sessions.
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