Pre-AP or regular? We need a midpoint

Sydney Joa 9-III

Transitioning from middle school to high school can be a very rough time. Classes become harder and more stressful the older we get, especially knowing that college is right around the corner and we need to start making decisions about our futures. This includes a question that many of us have when it comes to colleges and universities: what can I do to make it easier to get into my dream school?

This is where Advanced Placement (AP) courses come in. According to PrepScholar, “Advanced Placement is a program run by the College Board that allows you to take courses at your high school, which can earn you college credit and/or qualify you for more advanced classes when you begin college. Taking an AP course and passing the test is a sign that you’re capable of handling college-level work, which will strengthen your college applications immensely.”

Furthermore, to make it easier on those transitioning from middle school to high school, just a couple of years ago the College Board created this new course called “Pre-AP classes,” which are meant to prepare high school students for AP classes. They are generally taken by high school freshmen, however, there are some courses meant for sophomores. These Pre-AP classes are more challenging than the regular-level classes and will most likely provide more homework, as well as more rigorous tests. However, sometimes the course work can get a tad bit too heavy, leaving us with numerous assignments and projects all due on similar dates, which can become extremely stressful in a time where freshmen are adjusting to the heavy workload that high school usually comes with. 

Thus, I decided to ask 30 New Horizons freshmen who are enrolled in Pre-AP classes to see what their opinions on this was. First of all, I asked students why they joined the classes; over 18 said it was because of college applications – this goes to show that most don’t join the class for the sake of learning, but more for what it means to be in the class; 7 said they joined because of the challenge it presents and the remaining 5 said they wanted quality classes. Then, I asked if they found the Pre-AP classes they’re in challenging; 20 of the students said yes, while 10 said no. I later asked whether it was the coursework or teacher that caused the challenge – 8 students said it was the coursework, 3 said it was the teacher, and 16 said it was both. 

Furthermore, to see how they currently feel about the classes that they’re enrolled in, I asked students whether if given the option, they would drop out of any of the Pre-AP classes they’re in, 11 said yes and 19 said no, and looking at the individual responses, at least 3 people who were first up to the challenge, now want to drop out. Those who said yes explained that they were regularly stressed and the teachers weren’t much help either. 

Finally, a solution I proposed was a midpoint class – a class that doesn’t come with an extreme challenge like Pre-AP, but also isn’t a class which only teaches you the very basic material. 21 students agreed that there should be a midpoint class, while 9 students disagreed. Those who said yes explained that the regular classes were way too easy, while the Pre-APs were way too hard, thus creating a huge gap between the two classes. They reasoned that they have the capacity to be in a class that is more challenging than the regular class, but don’t want to get “killed,” as one of the students said, in Pre-AP. 

Although Pre-AP classes are fully an optional class, us students still find it appealing because of what it might bring to our futures, specifically to our college applications. Despite the fact that Pre-AP classes don’t offer any college credits, us students have to be fully aware that College Board created these Pre-AP and AP courses to help facilitate the transition from high school to college, and they’re not going to be easy. 

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