Choosing new classes for the next school year can be intimidating. When presented with all the different classes that have different labels, it can become overwhelming. 

The AP [advanced placement] label on classes puts unnecessary pressure on students. It can make them feel like they should, or have to take the class. However, students should not take a class simply because it’s labeled AP; rather they should choose to take a class because of its content and their ability to thrive in it. 

As the years go on, more and more students are taking AP classes. The pressure students face to take AP classes has seemingly increased as the time passes. According to research conducted by Challenge Success, from 2004 to 2009, the number of AP students increased by 50%. This increase of AP students could potentially be linked to the way the AP courses are presented to students as something that is necessary for their success. 

More often than not, students take AP classes just because they are labeled AP. Students tend to choose taking the AP classes over standard and honors classes just so they can put them on their college resumes. 

“I think the AP label makes students feel an extra layer of pressure to pass the class,” Maclay 2021 graduate Hayes Harrell said. “Because many students think that if you do not pass in high school, you will be behind in college when in reality it’s the opposite.”

Sometimes students are led to believe AP classes are always better than standard or honors classes. Many students believe that AP classes are always superior to standard or honors classes and that colleges look for students that take AP classes. Although this can definitely be true, there is no shame in not taking them. It is usually better to take a standard or honors class and get a good grade, rather than taking an AP class and getting a bad grade. 

“AP labels can lower the quality of learning because of the outlook students have towards the “AP” label,” Harrell said. “Many students look at AP classes as a checkpoint they must pass rather than an opportunity to learn.”

The AP label can also be harmful by pressuring students to take classes for which they aren’t equipped. AP classes can cause students to fall behind, when they would be more successful in an honors class. Students that stumble into an AP class without knowing the full extent of their difficulty can easily fall behind in class, and receive a bad grade, when they could probably drop down into a standard or honors class. Because of the AP label, they feel pressured to stay in difficult classes and fall behind. It can even lead to falling behind in other classes because the AP classes are taking too much time out of their days.

AP classes can have positives, as long as you know what you’re getting into. It is good to be informed about the content of a class before taking it, instead of just trying to pile on as many APs as possible. 

They can be helpful to students when applying to colleges, especially when taking an AP class on a subject they are knowledgeable on. They can prepare students for college and boost GPA. However, they can also do the opposite of all these things if a student is not careful.

Students should always do their research before taking an AP class because of its label. Students should only take an AP class if they are knowledgeable in the subject, or plan to use what they learn in college or their career.

The AP label puts way too much pressure on students. There is no shame in taking standard or honors classes because everyone has different strengths. AP classes have their benefits of course, but taking them just because of their label will almost always end in students becoming stressed and overwhelmed. Students should not take classes they are not equipped for and let go of the idea that AP classes equal success. Students should take the best fit class for them and stop paying so much attention to the labels.