Too many AP classes?

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Too many AP classes?
28
Wed, 02-27-2013 - 9:44pm

I have the opposite problem that I'm sure a lot of parents would like to have but I feel that my son wants to take too many AP classes in his senior year--it's funny, don't most kids try to get an easier time then?  lol  Well he's a junior this year and is taking the 2nd 1/2 of AP History and the 1st 1/2 of AP English (both 2 yr courses).  His history teacher actually tried to discourage them from taking AP English, saying that it would be too much work to do both--I don't really feel that was a good thing for a teacher to say.  He actualy has done fine this year.  In 1st semester, he was taking 7 classes altogether even though he really only had to take 6--he could have a study, but he chose not to.  This semester, since he had 2 1/2 yr classes, he only has 6 academic classes cause he has to take gym.

He was saying next year besides taking the rest of AP English, he also wants to take AP Calculus, Statistics and Psychology.  I don't really have a problem with Psych.  Now he was just saying how he doesn't understand Pre-Calc at all.  The 1st semester they had trig and he did well in that.  Now they have a different teacher cause the old teacher had a baby.  I don't understand how someone can go from not understanding pre-calc and thinking that they are going to do AP Calc (even though my DD was kind of the same).  There are also 2 levels of AP Calc--DD took the easier one & DS wants to take the harder one!  I think he's nuts.  He doesn't even have to take math at all--only 3 yrs are required and he'll probably never need Calculus.  He goes to a pretty large school and there are a lot of really interesting classes that he could take for electives, so in a way I don't understand some of the choices.  Right now he thinks he wants to follow DD into nursing (and hopefully for my finances will get into the same state university).  They have to take Stats for nursing so even if he does the AP exam in stats, I'm not sure that he could get out of that one--I did stats in college for Sociology and even was a TA and I just thought it was the most boring class.  Well in addition, he also wants to take Physics and Anat. & Physiology.  I just don't want him to burn himself out--he does tend to have a lot of anxiety althoug he's done pretty well this year.  I mean besides this he does have to do college apps & essays and all that kind of stuff.  But whenever I make a suggestion he won't listen to me and just thinks I know nothing because I am the mother even though I am a college grad--even have an advanced degree.  He is somehow so worried that he won't get into college--duh!  right now his class rank is 28 out of over 400 kids--and he did well on the PSATs so I really don't see a problem there.  Oh well, I guess all that HW will keep him out of trouble.

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Community Leader
Registered: 12-16-2003
Fri, 03-08-2013 - 1:16pm

One word of warning about AP.  If you take an AP class in high school, you may not get any credit for it if it is in your major in college.  Dd was warned not to take AP Bio since her major is Bio now in college.  She took AP Environmental Sciences instead, which she did get the credit.  She was able to come into school with 2 trimesters done due to AP.

Ramona  Mom to 2 great kids and wife to one wonderful hubby since 1990!

Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
Wed, 03-06-2013 - 6:09pm

Our DD is signed up for a SAT prep course. For her, it's all about the math review. The SAT is actually pretty basic in math but she took algebra I and II almost 3 years ago in middle school. It's a little fuzzier in her memory than she'd like. The option was for her to brush up on it herself or take light course. We didn't go for the private tutoring or the 800 dollar courses that are available in our area. Certainly, I don't think it's something everyone needs to do. My own DD doesn't NEED to do it... her PSAT scores were high enough for all the schools she's interested in. However, if it makes HER more comfortable and confident in the process, I don't see an issue with it. Again, my issue is in the idea that you HAVE to take anything.




Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Wed, 03-06-2013 - 3:14pm
It actually was, that's pretty well how ours is set up also with the exception of the in between levels between core and AP. But we have a large course catalog, so even though there isn't as much variety for those mandatory classes other than AP and core, which also depends on which teacher you have as to how hard or well the class is taught, there are is a great variety of classes for them to take and to keep their interest IMO if they want. I picked the school district for that reason knowing DD's academic aspirations. With the smaller ones, I don't know if its the same, I am already struggling with the middle one having to do homework in kindergarten every night and am a bit frustrated by it...
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Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 03-06-2013 - 3:02pm

I don't get all that test-taking either.  My oldest took the SAT twice.  My middle one took the SAT twice.  No test prep.  Both did just fine.

Tracy, to answer your question from a few posts back, our school has a huge variety of courses with different levels for all the core courses - Regents (regular), honors, and AP.  Some subjects offer a college option too.  The top of the class typically takes the AP classes, though they may take honors in some of them. Like your school, it's possible to take an honors version of a non-honors class by meeting some additional requirements (e.g. in orchestra or art), so there's incentive for kids who want honors weighting to take non-core courses that interest them.

The path to AP begins in our middle school in 7th grade for math and in 8th grade for science.  If they're in Accelerated Math, they take the 7th & 8th grade curriculum in 7th grade - one year - and then begin the 9th grade curriculum in 8th grade.  About a third of the kids get the option to do that.  If they succeed, they follow the track DD has been in, which culminates in AP Calc BC in 12th grade.  The science acceleration begins with taking 9th grade science in 8th grade, which then allows them (if they want) to take all AP Science classes in HS - in DD's case, Earth Science, Chemistry, Physics, and Biology.  About a third of the 8th grade takes 9th grade science, but even if they don't, they can still take honors and AP science in HS if they do well in regular 8th grade science.

That was probably clear as mud. :)

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Wed, 03-06-2013 - 12:32pm
We do not have pre-AP classes at middle school either. They have GT classes, which are supposed to be the equivelant of freshman level classes, but the only h/s credit they could get was in Math, the GT math in 8th grade was Algebra 1. They were also only allowed to take one AP class in sophomore, which was AP World History and you had to get recommended by your freshman social studies teacher and a sign off by the parent to take it. I was surprised at how many people we know had their kids take the SAT prep courses, or would have the kids take the ACT or SAT several times. One lady I know has a DD finishing up sophomore year and she has already taken the ACT once and has it planned for her to take it at least 2-3 more times. ODD also did the book and CD and studied on her own. I know some students study better in a classroom setting though and are not always as disciplined to do work on their own. My DH went back to school a few years ago to finish his associates degree and he refused to take any online courses, he is the type that has to be in class listening to lectures, etc. and doing all the reading and is better with set deadlines and guidance from a teacher.
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Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Wed, 03-06-2013 - 12:26pm
I am thinking you are asking me that as I said either core or AP. Yes, our H/S has either or. There are pre-AP clases in plenty of courses, but at least for English 3 and 4, its either core or AP, nothing else. if I had known that ahead of time, she would have done dual enrollment. For English 3 and 4 at the H/S, those are the only options for the final 2 years of 4 yeras of required english. But if she had done dual enrollment, there were 3 or 4 other classes that would have qualified to cover the english requirements and would have fit better for her.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 03-06-2013 - 12:23pm

Our school system is very different--there are no "pre AP' classes in middle school and there are no AP classes that freshmen can take.  The only AP class that sophomores can take, that I know of, is the 1st yr of AP History--so it's more that everybody has to do the basic work first before adding in the APs.

My friend's son, who doesn't live in the same town, but in the same state, took enough AP classes in high school that he got, I think, 15 or 18 college credits.  he's premed so I don't know how many classes he will be able to skip--but the kid is definitely bright.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 03-06-2013 - 12:17pm

SAT tutors are really not done where I live.  I am not even planning on sending DS to the prep class given at the school (of course you have to pay for it & money is an issue right now).  I did ask him if he just wanted to do the math component and he said no, even though math is harder for him than English.  So then I said "well why then did you ask me if you should go to the class?  you surely don't need it in English."  DD didn't take any kind of SAT prep, she just got a book and did well enough--obviously not 800 but she got into college.  DS did well on his PSAT so I don't think he needs the boost, or that he has time for a class or tutor.  The only person I know who hired a tutor for her kid was one friend whose son has some kind of learning problem with English or reading. In that kind of scenario I think it would be different.  I do think it's sad that everybody assumes that if you don't get into the super well known college, you aren't successful.  DD went to the state U, a lot of which was based on the fact that we don't have money to spend $50,000/yr on college and didn't want her to graduate with $100,000 in loans.  Ironically she got a nursing job with one of the best hospitals in the country--so in a lot of cases and depending on your choice of career, it doesn't matter that much where you went to college--of course it would matter if you couldn't pass the nursing board exam.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 03-06-2013 - 12:05pm

So your h.s. only has College or AP to choose from?  ours also has honors classes in most of everything.  In fact, even in an elective that DS took last semester (Violence in American Society) the students could choose to take it either as CP or Honors--meaning that the teacher would look at the work more critically and expect more if you chose to do honors.  DS was one of the few who did it as honors.  We actually used to have a 4th level, which was called "academic" which they dropped a few years ago, so the "lowest" level class is CP--now obviously everybody is not going to college or is college material, which makes that designation kind of meaningless in my book.  Even the kids who are in the vocational dept. have to take the same core classes besides the extra vocational learning they have to do.  But there are some voke students who do go on to college also.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Tue, 03-05-2013 - 6:16pm

Well, now there I would agree with you.  It would be great if there were more options for students than AP classes that were considered equally valid.  I think it would be considered heresy for a school to scrap the AP program and go to something else - I'm trying to imagine it happening here and failing.  Because the only way students would be considered good candidates for college is if the school offers no AP classes or very few - otherwise, the question remains, "Why didn't you take advantage of the AP classes offered?"  And to get buy-in from the teachers, many of whom view teaching AP as a reward for good teaching in less competitive classes, would be a challenge too.

Our district demographics are primarily blue collar.  There are no mega-mansions, though there are some mini-mansions occupied mostly by dual-income families or building contractors.  Most of the parents went to college at state universities, if they went to college at all.  Therefore, unlike some of our wealthier neighbors nearby, the schools tend to not be cutthroat, but quite congenial.  The students who are top of their class are the leaders in some extracurricular groups and participants in others.  Parents don't do their kids' work for them in order to get them the best grades.  DD has a large group of friends who take the same kinds of classes and participate in the same kinds of activities she does.  The salutatorian not only has a stunning average, but she also will call up and say, "Let's go learn swing dancing!"  In other words, being well rounded *is* the norm in this group.

But to get back to the district, I think parents would be horrified by the loss of APs.  They want measures of achievement that they recognize, not alternatives.  If we want alternatives we would have to send our kids to the private schools which charge $35,000 a year tuition for day students.  There are no charter schools, no nearby Catholic schools, just extremely expensive private schools or alternatives for troubled kids or those with learning disabilities.  In our town, where we struggle to pass a school budget but have passionately committed public school educators, very few are willing to look at alternatives.  In the meantime, APs continue to be the gold standard for the top of the class, and most of DD's friends seem quite happy with them - though of course they don't know what the alternatives might be.

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