Change AP Courses For The Better

AP Classes Should Mean More Than A Score On A Piece Of Paper

AP courses focus solely on an exam with unfair time limitations

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As an honors student, the teachers and counselors in my high school stressed the importance of taking Advanced Placement classes in order to get into the college of my choice. I had all the authority with their high expectations for me breathing down my neck while I chose classes, and my own perfectionist voice in my brain telling me I had to do the absolute most. Thus, I ended up in four AP classes my senior year of high school.

Going into AP classes, teachers always emphasize the importance of doing well on the exam that comes at the end of the course. This exam is supposed to demonstrate your mastery of the subject at hand and is something I take major issue with. It has turned into focusing solely on doing well on the exam and is void of any real focus on actually learning the material.

An example of an AP exam is the English Literature and Composition exam, which consists of 55 multiple choice questions in 60 minutes and three essays in 120 minutes. This is a ridiculous expectation for any high school student, coming from someone who had an A in the class all year, was told by my teacher that I had a head for English, and got only a three on the exam. Although English is a subject that comes naturally to me, I am also someone who works much better when I have time to take care in what I am doing and actually put thought into my work.

Almost all the AP classes I took went down the list of objectives the Collegeboard releases while integrating mass amounts of test prep so we felt "prepared" for the exam in May. I only ever had one teacher who was different: my AP Physics teacher.

Mr. Conte is someone who is very passionate about the concepts he teaches. He has told us that his AP class was more than just what was on the exam and he always took his lessons a step further than he had to. He applied each concept to the greater world and universe and I felt like I truly learned much more in his class than I ever did before. I didn't end up taking the exam, but I left that class feeling curious and motivated to learn more about the world we live in.

Moving forward, AP classes should be about more than just preparing for an exam. You can get college credits from doing well on the exam, so I understand why it is highlighted so much throughout the course. However, I do not believe this is a good system. I loved my Literature class and I did really well in it, but I won't be getting any credit for all the work I put in because I didn't get a high enough score on the exam. How is that fair?

Many other AP students are in the same boat I am. I spent my whole high school career working hard in these college-level classes, but if I didn't get a four or five on the exam, it doesn't even count. All that work was for nothing since most of these classes are driving towards a high score.

Collegeboard, I am reaching out to you. Make AP courses about exploring the subjects at hand, challenging hard-working students, and expanding the mind. It should be less about an exam with time restrictions that aren't reasonable and more about actually learning.

Teachers, this is also a message for you. Don't limit your lessons to what the exam is to hold. Be passionate, like Mr. Conte, and share your knowledge with your students in a way that will inspire them to be more than a number on a piece of paper.

Cover Image Credit:

Amanda Donahue

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A Letter To My Freshman Dorm Room As I Pack Up My Things

Somehow a 15' x 12' room became a home.

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Dear Geary 411,

With your creaky beds, concrete walls, and mismatched tile floors, you are easily overlooked as just another room we were randomly assigned to— but you were different. Inside your old walls, I have made some of the best memories of my life that I will hold on to forever.

Thank you for welcoming my neighbors in with open arms who quickly became friends who didn't knock and walked in like you were their own.

I feel like an apology is needed.

We're sorry for blaring the music so loud while getting ready and acting like we can actually sing when, in reality, we know we can't. Sorry for the dance parties that got a bit out of control and ended with us standing on the desks. Sorry for the cases of the late-night giggles that came out of nowhere and just would not go away. Sorry for the homesick cries and the "I failed my test" cries and the "I'm dropping out" cries. We're sorry for hating you at first. All we saw was a tiny and insanely hot room, we had no idea what you would bring to us.

Thank you for providing me with memories of my first college friends and college experiences.

As I stand at the door looking at the bare room that I first walked into nine months ago I see so much more than just a room. I see lots and lots of dinners being eaten at the desks filled with stories of our days. I see three girls sitting on the floor laughing at God knows what. I see late night ice cream runs and dance battles. I see long nights of homework and much-needed naps. Most importantly, I look at the bed and see a girl who sat and watched her parents leave in August and was absolutely terrified, and as I lock you up for the last time today, I am so proud of who that terrified girl is now and how much she has grown.

Thank you for being a space where I could grow, where I was tested physically, mentally and emotionally and for being my home for a year.

Sincerely,

A girl who is sad to go

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What I Wish I Knew About Life After High School Before I Had To Live It

Life after high school isn't always what you expected it to be.

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So you're about to graduate high school and you think you have it all figured out. You and your best friends are going to stay close throughout college and you're going to take those long road trips in college to see each other. Think again.

Life after high school isn't always what you want it to be. You think you'll miss high school, you'll always be close with your high school besties, and you'll have all this free time in college. That's just not entirely true. I personally do not miss high school. I don't really talk to anyone I went to high school with on a regular basis, and I'm totally OK with that. I have friends in college that I believe will be my lifelong friends whereas my friends in high school didn't make an effort to keep in contact with me after high school.

I haven't had all the free time I've dreamed of in college, because I'm busy with school and meetings. When I'm not doing homework, I'm making sure the rest of my life is in order and all my stuff for school is in line. I'm not the crazy party girl that people think I am because of where I go to school. I'd rather sit in bed and watch Netflix than go out with my friends. I'm not a 4.0 student, but I work so hard in my classes just to make sure that I'm passing. I study a week before tests and still don't always make A's. And that's OK. It's not what I expected during my college years, but it's what's happening, and most of my friends are the same way.

Anne Marie Bonadio

Just know that life in college isn't all easy, breezy, and beautiful like Covergirl. It's hard and you will struggle whether it be in school or with your friends. College isn't always complete freedom. You'll be tied down with school and life and you won't have the free time that you always imagined. You won't always be best friends with your high school friends. You won't be taking those road trips because you won't be able to afford them, and if you're like me, your parents won't let you.

College won't be exactly what you dreamed it'll be, but it'll be some of the best years of your life.

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