As a senior in high school looking back at my younger self, I realize just how lost I used to be and feel. I am the oldest child in my family, and I didn’t have someone to show me the ropes of high school. I did not know which teachers were best, didn’t know which classes to avoid, and I was terrified of taking an AP class. When I was a freshman, there were no AP options in my curriculum. However, as class selection started for my sophomore year, that’s all the school-related talk became about. My friends would ask if I was taking any AP’s and if I was, which ones? How many? Why those? Did I want college credit, or did I just like the challenge? Honestly? I had no idea. I was just signing up for what looked good to take. Now, I want to break down how to assess whether or not to take an AP class.
First, think about if you are good at the subject you want to go AP in. If you’re looking into taking AP chemistry but made Cs and Bs in regular chemistry, it might not be the choice for you. You will want to take AP courses in classes that you will already find engaging and interesting to study. The Collegeboard suggests studying 8 hours a week for each AP class you sign up for. So, if you don’t like the subject you are taking, it will be very hard to keep up and stay on track.
Second, think about what you might want to study in college. If you are looking into studying philosophy or history, make sure you take AP History and AP English courses. That will let the colleges you are looking into know what you’re interested in, and that you are a driven, hardworking student.
Third, assess your own time management/school abilities. AP courses come with a lot of homework and if you do not have the time or ability to keep up with the course work, it probably is not for you. AP courses are good to have on your transcript, but not if you got low grades because you couldn’t keep up. Challenge yourself, but do not overwork yourself; it will lead to academic burnout.
Finally, think about if you want to take the class in the first place. I know lots of people that signed up for AP courses because their friends were taking it, or because they felt pressured into it. If you do not want to take the class and all that it asks of you, don’t! It will be a hassle all year to try and keep up if you do not find it engaging or interesting.
I hope this helps! And just remember, most importantly, to take care of yourself above academics. It can be easy to over prioritize school, but when it becomes unhealthy, make sure to take a break and relax.