You Probably Shouldn’t Be Taking All Of Those APs


No, I’m serious, you probably shouldn’t be taking all of those APs.

Every Spring, Tech students sign up for the upcoming school year’s courses. Faced with choices between such as Calculus or AP Calculus, many gravitate towards taking AP classes. However, the accompanying stress of these advanced courses should deter students from filling their schedules with AP courses.

AP courses have become synonymous with “academic rigor” and are considered a prerequisite for getting into a high-ranking college. College Board, the nonprofit organization that designs these courses, currently offers 38 AP subjects, of which Tech offers 30.

As of September 30th, 3,000 Tech students have signed up for various AP exams, for reasons including potential college credit and the 1.1 weighted boost it provides to their Grade Point Average (GPA).

Oscar Zheng, a senior in the LIU Advanced Health Professions major, took four APs through his sophomore and junior year, and is currently taking five APs. When asked about why he chose to take the APs that he did, aside from major requirements, he cited “the transcript bump and colleges.”

Zheng also noted, “AP classes are the default classes I have to take because it’s the kind of environment I’m in with friends and our school.”

Although Zheng did not regret the APs that he took, he still acknowledged the additional stress, saying “as I get into AP season, I’ll feel the stress.”

This stress is often overlooked when selecting AP courses. Duaa Taweel, a sophomore enrolled in AP Computer Science Principles and AP European History, remarked that “a lot of people do take APs for the sake of them” and do not consider their potential negative impacts.

Taweel also spoke about her own experience in balancing APs with other responsibilities. “I’m basically surviving off of four hours of sleep everyday if it wasn’t for the weekend,” she admitted. “And I’m honestly really stressed in general tackling APs, and my regular classes, and trying to keep up my grades.”

Taweel’s experience of sleep deprivation and overwhelming stress is a reality for too many Tech students, especially as they enter their high-stakes junior year considered most heavily by colleges. People sign up for APs without much consideration of the stress; a decision that has led to many horror stories at Tech.

Tracy Guan, a senior in the Media major, spoke about how one of their friends would “go full on sobbing about how stressful their AP Chemistry class was” during their junior year.

Guan, unlike most Tech students, chose not to take any APs during their junior year as a way of prioritizing their mental health.

“It was our first year back from COVID and in-person, and like, I wasn’t doing very well in terms of mental health, and I just felt that if I decided to take any APs, it would just be a lot on me,” Guan admitted. “And I didn’t want to do that to myself.”

Despite the importance of mental health, most students put their academics first, leading to high burnout and exacerbated social-emotional issues. According to Mr. Louis-Manzano, a guidance counselor, students often enter his and other counselors’ offices in tears over academic stress.

The immense stress of AP courses led the guidance team to draft a cautionary AP form last year for students wishing to take 4 or more APs, requiring parental signature and a meeting with their counselor. This measure allows students to make a more informed choice in their course-selections.

Known colloquially among students as the “suicide pact”, this additional step did slow down the amount of people adding APs, according to Louis-Manzano.

Still, there remain too many students taking AP courses because they think they are supposed to. Tech students may have the ability to take many AP courses, but they need to consider the effects those classes will have on their mental health.

While taking fewer, or no, APs may not be the choice for everyone, taking three or more should not be normalized. So, before signing up for another AP course come Spring, consider the stress the classes may cause. The GPA bump and perceived prestige may not be worth the lost sleep and additional anxiety.