AP classes push students to think critically


Morgan Gallagher

Junior Amy Meng takes time out of lunch to study AP material in the RHS media center.

Morgan Gallagher, Staff Writer

It’s a Tuesday night, and many Advanced Placement students are bogged down with homework assignments. The more classes, the more hours of work — not to mention those involved in sports, extracurriculars and hobbies. 

AP Language and Composition teacher Ms. Erin Burke says that she finds the stresses of AP are balanced by the simple enthusiasm for the subject and overall drive to be successful. 

“These students are choosing to be there and they’re choosing to take on the extra workload,” Ms. Burke said. “I think that it’s a certain type of student that does choose an AP class, just because they really do want to learn.”

Junior Olivia Yee, who participates in three AP classes each day, expands further on the enthusiasm that comes with the courses.

“Success in an AP class feels better because AP classes are challenging and it makes me feel like I’ve achieved more when I get a good score in the end,” Yee said.

APs can be more time-consuming than regular high school classes, as the work load is targeting college-level students. Some see it as more rewarding because of this reason.

“I’m more enthusiastic about the AP because you put more time into it,” junior Amy Meng said.

It often rings true that the environment changes in AP classes compared to general classes.

“Typically the AP classes are a little bit smaller, so I can get to know the students more on an individual level basis,” Ms. Burke said. “The classes are year-long, unlike a lot of my classes that are just a semester, and they’re packed! So, I can’t get to know the students as well.” 

Bailey Davis, a junior enrolled in AP Chemistry, comments on the general discrepancies of AP class atmosphere compared to the typical class.

“I would definitely say it’s more success-driven,” Davis said. “So far we’ve been doing more labs and hands-on type of things whereas in the beginning of regular Chem it was more mellow.”

Ms. Burke says she enjoys being able to share her passion for her subject. 

“I think that a lot of AP teachers have such a passion for their subject that it translates to the students,” Ms. Burke said. “I can go deeper because the student wants to go deeper as well, so I feel like we can have deeper discussions.”

Most would say that the difference in teaching style of AP classes greatly influences the overall enthusiasm for the class. The simple principle of passion-driven teaching often translates extremely well to the pupils of the class and what they take out of it.

“The teachers do teach with a passion,” AP German, AP Lang and AP Government student Olivia Yee said. “The actually like to teach us and know what they’re doing.”

The relationship between teacher and student is also influenced by the type of class.

“I am more enthusiastic about AP because it’s part of my passion and I love to work with students who are so excited to learn,” Ms. Burke said. “I feel like it pushes me harder as well to want to help them to excel in any way that I can.”

Though some take APs because they enjoy the subject more and want to go deeper into the curriculum, some take the class simply to earn the credit for college, or for the weighted grade or for how it will look on a transcript when applying for college.

“I wouldn’t say I’m more enthusiastic about the subject. I’m about the same as I would be for a normal class. I would say I take it more for college credit,” David said. “I don’t mind the subject — it’s cool — but I guess I’d rather accept the challenge for that reason.” 

Even though AP courses tend to be more work for students and the teacher, Ms. Burke says it’s worth it. 

“As a teacher, it’s more work in a lot of ways because there’s more papers to grade, and it’s higher level thinking so it’s harder to grade,” Ms. Burke said. “There’s a certain expectation of the course that I think is harder to grade, but like most things in life with that taste, you get richer rewards.”