by Mallory Drover
This year at Homer High School, there has been an introduction of AP classes that have not come been available for students before, or in the past few years. AP stands for Advanced Placement, which are an option of classes that are more challenging and have more work involved than the average high school course. However, why would a student ever want to subject themselves to more difficult classes?
Mr. Campbell is on his second year of teaching AP Literature and Composition after Mrs. Hallseth’s retirement. He explained to me, “One of my goals is that all of the students in my class will get a three (on the exam) or better at the end of the year so they can earn college credit.”
At the end of each semester, students in the class are given a rigorous test of their learned skills from the class. If they manage to pass, they earn college credit as well as high school credit.
“It mimics a university class, so you can get a taste of the rigor at that level,” Mrs. Lowe, AP Biology teacher said. “And additionally, if they score well enough on their AP exam, some universities will allow them to get credit for that same level of course at their school. They can save thousands of dollars.”
For a local resident near Homer, a class at KPC (Kenai Peninsula College) costs $154 for a lower division class, and $542 for a non-resident. For an AP class at Homer High, students learn for free. But what else could students possible earn from accepting such a challenging work load?
“The second benefit of it is the group of kids themselves. It’s a higher standard and a higher learning level, so the kids who are at that higher level are expecting to be pushed and to interact with other kids who are at the same level that they are,” said Mrs. Fisher, who is currently teaching AP Government, a course that hasn’t been offered at Homer High for at least four years. She explained that these students who are more focused on learning can gain from the environment of an AP class, whereas the average class might be more prone to distraction or disruption. For students who enjoy the challenge of the classroom over social disruptions, taking an AP class is an alternative.
College credit, exposure to university levels, and a better structured environment- all these things are great benefits for taking an AP class. At the same time however, are students able to keep up with the curriculum? And what makes an AP class so difficult anyway?
“In an AP class, it’s modeled after a college course, so the homework category doesn’t exist anymore. Its just suggested homeworks that will benefit them, and the actual written assessments are a higher percentage, and lab performance assessments.” Mrs. Lowe explained in reference to her AP Biology class. Mrs. Fisher explains a similar story, where there are more group discussions and less daily assignments.
Overall, for a student that is willing to focus and eager in their classroom environments, it seems that AP courses are a terrific opportunity. It would be difficult to attempt juggling more than one or two AP subjects at time. However, taking on one of these classes each semester can give you a head start on your college career, look great on your high school transcript, and help give you a better understanding of that subject in ways that wouldn’t be available to you in the average class.