Absence of AP Classes Promote Academic Freedom
by Alexa Perlov on Friday, May 13th, 2016
One of the many things that separates Milton from other high schools is its lack of AP courses. Sure, we have AP courses in the language department for Latin and French, and one AP course in the social sciences, but that amounts to just three AP courses total. As someone whose language class doesn’t offer an AP course and who is not extremely passionate about social sciences, I’m going to have graduated with zero APs on my transcript. However, personally, I don’t think this lack of APs is a bad thing. It’s refreshing how Milton deliberately doesn’t offer as many AP courses as other schools.
To start with, the majority of the courses offered at Milton are likely at or beyond the level of an AP class. That being said, we theoretically should be prepared to take AP exams, even if our whole academic year is not geared towards nailing the test. So, APs present a kind of win-win situation for Milton students; because our courses are not titled “AP,” the pressure to get a perfect score on the test is less burdensome. If you do well on an AP test, that’s great, and maybe you can place out of that class in college. Conversely, if you don’t do well, you are not required to report your score, and your college application doesn’t look any less complete without the test. Also, Milton students have the opportunity to decide to take as many or as few AP tests as they want. No student’s course selections are locking him or her into any stressful examinations.
In addition, the lack of AP’s at Milton means that our classes don’t strictly follow an AP curriculum. My classes aren’t bound to a particular syllabus with an exact deadline. We have the freedom to take a more scenic route in the sense that we can wander from the AP’s curriculum and explore topics that come up naturally in class and interest us. Most importantly, we also do not have to worry about some dreadful test at the end of the year. Many of my classes tend to go off on fascinating tangents, but if we were in an AP course, we wouldn’t be able to afford these divergences.
If Milton did offer a large variety of AP classes, some of us would gravitate to classes we are not so enthusiastic about in order to opt out of them in college. The problem is, though, that not all colleges even accept APs to fill specific credits, totally defeating the purpose of taking the class. So, without having the option of taking AP classes, we at Milton can just choose the courses we’re genuinely interested in.
Also, there’s something sort of dehumanizing – for lack of better words – about going to a class just to memorize information for a single test. A whole school year of class time should not be focused on one exam, and our motivation to learn in class should not be driven by trying to receive the best score possible on the test. Students should take classes they’re interested in and should learn the material to enrich themselves. Obviously grades do matter, and we always want to earn good scores; however, I think it’s important to acknowledge that there’s more to school than just grades.
Based on what I’ve heard about the infamous APs at other high schools, the whole school year revolves around that one standardized test — that one score. Plus, standardized tests in and of themselves are pretty stressful. Nothing drains me more than a three hour-long test, especially when it’s all on the same subject. Milton is really doing us all a favor by allowing us to not spend our whole year stressing over obnoxious standardized tests.
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