AP vs. Regular vs. Advanced: taking what’s right for you

AP vs. Regular vs. Advanced: taking whats right for you

Selaam Dollisso, Online Managing Editor

Deciding your course schedule can be one of the most exciting and daunting tasks as a student. The piercing, pressuring voices of older siblings, upperclassmen, friends, parents, as well as your own thoughts, cloud your mind and interfere with your judgement. Pretty soon, it becomes less like school and more like a competitive caste system.

The first step to success is being honest with yourself: not only is this essential to your high school career, it is imperative that you develop this good habit outside of academic tasks and for your sanity. Taking AP classes just to prove a point and compete with friends, or for any other irrelevant reason than to better yourself, to be challenged, or to work hard, will most likely cause you strife.

“I don’t stress in… Advanced English, but… that is because I really enjoy English and it’s one of my favorite classes”, said junior Julia Franco.

On the other hand, she knew where to draw the line when it came to a subject she didn’t find as much interest in: “Algebra 2 is required… [for] college, but I would probably regret taking Advanced Algebra 2 because it would be too fast paced for me”.

Franco finds motivation in striving to perform at her best at all times and giving her full effort. “If I ever procrastinate, I just try to tell myself that I am not allowed to do that in college, and so sometimes it helps me to get my work done faster whenever I feel like giving up”.

Ever since freshman year, junior Tianxin Xu has challenged herself to the fullest capacity. As an all-AP student (with courses at ISU), Xu has had to make sacrifices, but she claims the extra time is worth it because she enjoys being able to grow as a student and broaden her knowledge.

“When I was little my parents would get mad if I didn’t do well, but I’ve reached the point [where] I like taking the harder classes and being challenged because I like learning new things. And with AP you get college credit so in the long run it’s better”, said Xu.

Her favorite and most impactful classes at Ames High so far have been AP Calculus, AP U.S. History, and AP Literature and Composition.

“I love math, and Calculus is very different from everything you do up until Calculus- it’s a completely new concept”.

Until this year, she found it hard to enjoy English, but AP Lit has allowed her to analyze literature and dive deeper into various texts and develop writing skills.

Besides her everyday classes, Tianxin also spends a tremendous amount of time everyday after school at FIRST Robotics (Neutrino) working on programming, electrical, and outreach tasks. She doesn’t consider her involvement in the robotics team to be work. “We’re really, a big bunch of dorks”, Xu admits.

Getting home at 8:30 most nights after robotics, Tianxin’s day is anything but over.

“I don’t sleep. Not advised. But I think it is personal preference. Taking all AP classes is not as daunting as it seems, as long as you are willing to put in the work for it. You have to be able to prioritize school over spending time with friends in some instances, but it’s not that bad.”, said Xu.

The purpose of high school is not to outshine your peers by loading yourself with difficult classes you can’t handle, or to try and copy someone else’s path in order to garner similar results. Essentially: breathe. The easiest, pain-free, and most satisfying trail to success is finding your niche and allowing yourself to blossom within that area. Forcing yourself into a role that fits neither your strengths nor interests can be detrimental and lead to regret. Whether that means all AP classes, none at all, or a combination of both, make sure you are staying true to your capabilities, time commitment, and drive.

Coming from a person who has jumped from English, to Pre-Med, to Food Science, to Law, to English again and finally to, “can I just leave the country”, I know a thing or two about the anxiety that comes from not knowing what the future holds for you; whether or not you are making the right choices.

It may sound cliche, but the mindset you have walking out of the building for the last time as am Ames High student is completely different than how you walked in the first day of freshman year. I am not even at that point yet, but I can attest that the ideas about myself, others, and the world around me have twisted, churned, rearranged, and continued to build- and that is a beautiful thing.

Ultimately, take classes that excite you, that you are willing to put forth effort in, that coincide with your passions, and that prepare you for the future. The high school course pyramid is not a caste system. Seize the opportunities that entice you and ignore the ones that don’t. If you put your best interest first and all other opinions second, I assure you, you will find success.