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Taking Another AP Class: Road to Success or Depression?

AP classes, extracurriculars, volunteering, social life, work, family, homework, sleep, hobbies, love life... how much is too much?

Taking Another AP Class: Road to Success or Depression?

High school is not an easy time. Not only do you have to do well in all your classes, you're also expected to play a sport or an instrument, participate in multiple clubs, maintain your social life and get a good night's sleep.If you're like me, and you have a dream school that's really competitive, you've either taken or are going to take Advanced Placement courses in high school. Advanced Placement courses help you build your subject knowledge in a specific field, boost your GPA, and look great on your college application. However, these courses are also known for their level of rigor and the incessant demands they make to students that want to take them.

As someone completely new to the American high school system, I did not quite understand the level of hard work and commitment an AP course required. I decided to take 4 APs my junior year (Chemistry, Biology, Language Composition and World History), and many of my friends were doing the same. What I didn't realize was how these four subjects would mean for my mental health in the coming months.

In simple words, the workload was too much. I spent the entirety of my weekday afternoon slogging to complete homework, study for tests, and work on projects. Many assignments were due at midnight, meaning I didn't even have the liberty to take a nap after I came home from school. I pulled many all nighters, and staying up till 1 or 2 AM was an everyday occurrence. My parents tried to help me, but there was nothing they could really do- the work was mine. On weekdays, I barely got a breather, and on weekends, I spent most of the day either stressing out about homework, or working on something that was due soon.

I didn't have the leisure to put a lot of effort and time into each project I was given, and rather had to do the job as quickly as possible so I could move on to the next task. Many days, I felt like a well-oiled machine, doing homework assignment after assignment until I collapsed at night in exhaustion.

Nearly every afternoon, I went through extreme stress, worrying about how late I'd have to stay up at night just to get my work done. Sometimes, I'd cry out of anxiety, because even after putting in hours of work, I still would not receive a good grade on an assignment. The AP Courses were slowly taking the joy out of my life and leaving me no time to socialize with friends or family, take up a hobby at school, or even participate in activities in my neighborhood.

Every time I'd watch Netflix, I'd feel a pang of guilt because I wasn't being productive, and slowly this anxiety started to consume me. Any time I spent having fun, I would regret, because I knew it would lead to me staying up at night doing homework. I couldn't let myself do anything enjoyable, and it was turning my life into something really damp.

It turns out, I wasn't alone. Alarmingly high levels of stress are associated with AP classes, something that can permanently affect students for the rest of their lives. The added sleep deprivation can even contribute to depression and more stress, which furthers the problem.

Taking an AP class is fun, if you're really interested in the subject and have at least an hour a day you can spare for the workload. However, I do think that taking a lot of AP courses can be especially detrimental to one's mental health status, which can lead to burning out early and severe health problems in the long run.

In fact, according to Athens Oracle, 83% of students feel like school is "a somewhat or significant source of stress" and have comparable levels of stress as adults.

One of my parents' rules is to eat at the dining table every night as a family. It's also always been a part of the routine for my parents to ask me: "how is school?" But as junior year progressed, I found myself piling more and more activities to my already long list of AP classes and extracurriculars. Sometimes, my workload would be as heavy---if not heavier--- than my parents', who have several decades of career experience.

Like Meghna's experience with AP's, staying up until 2 or 3 a.m. every night to keep up the load of four AP classes seemed like the norm to stay up to par with classmates and class curriculum.

Every day, I'd walk to classes barely awake: too worried about falling asleep in class and missing something important yet too sleepy to focus and learn the material the first time around.

You might be wondering: "why don't you just use your breaks to relax… you should expect this sort of workload from taking the hardest AP's offered, right? You're right, except each teacher decides to throw on an extra pile of work at us, which gets multiplied by the number of classes you're taking for each break. Even during the break, there is no chance to relax from the stressful course load of AP's.

So, what's the solution for this dilemma? Teachers, try to understand your students and their busy lives, even if it's just for a few minutes per week. Instead of taking time giving busy work and piles of unnecessary worksheets, take that time to reflect on the week or month's schedule so students know which major dates and assessments they should anticipate. Administrators, implement a time slot, whether it be during lunch, beyond school hours, or during a certain class period, during which students can destress and have the option to reach out for help. And students, don't be afraid to speak up when you're struggling---know you're not the only one and bring attention to the issues that you feel are hurting you. No class should make you feel like your life is not worth living nor should it push you to a point that ruins your quality of life.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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