AP: Absolutely Preposterous MAG

November 1, 2007
By Sophie Wasserman, San Diego, CA

Weapons of Mass Instruction have been discovered in schools nationwide. Standardization of education is a plague that comes in many forms but none as detrimental as the AP class.

AP, or Advanced Placement, enrollment supposedly signifies that a ­student is intelligent enough to take college-level courses in high school. In reality, it’s just Academic Pollution. You do not learn the material to become enlightened. You learn to pass a test. You learn so that you can impress ­admissions officers with your weighted GPA. You learn so that when you enter college as a sophomore, you can fast-track your way to a high-paying job and the “real world.” But signing away your childhood to the College Board is Absolutely Preposterous.

Dealing with those gifted children who actually want to be educated often presents a challenge to administrators. Easily bored in classes that don’t stimulate them, these students release their pent-up frustration at their intellectual stagnation in the form of classroom disruptions. The solution? Lump all the Annoying Prodigies into one class and teach them the higher-level material they crave.

However, this isolation only creates further problems: Students are stratified into two spheres of existence. Like oil and water, these groups rarely mix or interact, resulting in an unmotivated class of slackers and a bunch of Antisocial Puppets, neither group knowing how to deal with the other. School should develop students socially as well as academically, preparing them to coexist with people from all walks in this rapidly changing world.

The fundamental rule in AP classes is Avoid People. Who has time for ­distracting social engagements? The massive homework load, looming deadlines and supplementary study groups slowly suck up your week.

Life doesn’t exist outside of meaningless busywork. Most often this ­consists of Absentminded Prattle, or the art of explaining concepts that you don’t understand, care about, or ever really need. The essay is no longer a forum for sharing opinions or arguing a case; it’s a formulaic regurgitation of exactly what the teacher/grader/counselor wants to hear. Anything Pedantic scores very well. Dick and Jane don’t play ball; Dick and Jane ­violently propel spherical objects at each other’s cranial cavities.

Weekends are for Application Padding: community service, multiple musical instruments, perhaps a sport or two, and other such “educational experiences.” Only Approved Pastimes are permissible. If a college wouldn’t care, neither should you.

Aggressive Parents enhance the whole experience with constant poking and pushing: “Do more, do it better, and do it faster than everyone around you. Don’t slack off. Don’t you want get into college?” Flipping burgers at McDonald’s is a favorite all-purpose threat, as if no respectable place of ­employment accepts applications from students who can’t name all the Chinese dynasties or integrate complex polynomials. Applying Pressure is a parental specialty, ­although the constant in-class reminders about judgment day (a.k.a. the AP test) don’t do anything to alleviate the stress.

Abandon Principles and accept it; shape yourself to fit the College Board cookie-cutter. AP is not learning but memorizing and rewording when prompted. AP is Always Procrastinating, staying up until one to finish that paper due tomorrow or the last of those French conjugations. AP is an obstacle course with never-ending hoops to jump through. AP is being taught ­exactly what to think and how to think it. At the end of the year, they evaluate on how well you regurgitate.

And so we sit in our little box, ­swallowing unquestioningly and vomiting on command, waiting for the sweet freedom that college brings. But can we survive the blinding sun of ­individual opinion? Or are we Altered Permanently to obey?



Similar Articles

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

This article has 104 comments.


Thyme BRONZE said...
on Feb. 26 2013 at 8:31 pm
Thyme BRONZE, Greenwood Village, Colorado
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I agree that the play on AP was quite clever, however, I must also agree with several other commentors that the author made it seem as though these were universal truthsrather than his or her own opinions. Yes, there is lots of memorization involved in these classes, but my teachers have always made room to add discussion.  Memorization is learning.  At some point you memorized the alphabet so that you could read and eventually write.  The memorization may be difficult and boring, but memorization is a skill that must come before any sort of creative flowering that many who oppose memorization push for.   The separation between students exists long before they every take their first AP class.  There will be slackers and hard workers starting in elementary school, and the division is only officially made when they hit the first AP/Honors/CP division. This in general seems to suggest that the "Antisocial Puppets" and "slackers" are fundamentally different human beings, but I would beg to differ.  Neither of these identifiers are particularly good at accurately dividing up groups of students.  Yes, one group might be less interested in school, but that doesn't somehow make them alien to the antisocial puppets.  

on Jan. 22 2013 at 6:48 pm
Alice_in_Wonderland GOLD, San Clemente, California
16 articles 0 photos 620 comments

Favorite Quote:
“I could give up, I could stay stuck, or I could move on, So I put one foot front of the other, No no no nothing’s gonna break my stride, “ –David Archuleta (The Other Side of Down)

Wow! This is a well-written article that brings up some good points. I haven't taken AP classes so I can't really comment on whether or not I think AP is that bad but it does appear that way I do agree that school has become less about wanting to learn and more about grades, transcripts, GPA and doing only what will impress colleges. I think one main reason why students are unhappy with the college they choose to go to their first year and drop out or transfer is because of the idea of being impressive and only doing and saying what they think everyone else wants instead of what they want. So many people apply to Ivy Leagues after passing tons of AP's and perfect 4.0 or 5.0 GPA but if students aren't honest with college admissions about who they truly are then the college won't be able to determine whether or not the student would be a good fit for the school and student won't be able to find the school that is the right fit for them. I also like your writing style and how you started sentences and phrases with the letters A and P for the AP Tests. Great job! Keep writing!

on Dec. 7 2012 at 3:51 pm
OracleIz SILVER, De Queen, Arkansas
5 articles 1 photo 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." Shakespeare

My AP class is no where as difficult as this article describes but I do agree it is a place for the students who need a challenge. At the begining of this year,I was in English 11 but the first day my teacher pulled me and said that there was no way she could help me develop in her regular class because of my high lexile. I am glad I switched because the things they are doing now,such as reading the book 'Speak",I did in the 7th grade and I would have gotten bored...fast.

on Nov. 20 2012 at 3:32 pm
NadiaAlmasalkhi BRONZE, Louisville, Kentucky
3 articles 0 photos 6 comments
I completely agree with CassaJade. I attend a school full of motivated people where most people take AP classes, and it's not as ridiculous as you make it out to be. AP for Avoid People? AP classes require work and thought, yes, but it's not as if taking an AP class is equal to automatically trading off your social life. I think that mature students can handle a rigorous courseload and a social life simultaneously, as long they go in with a positive attitude instead of resigning themselves to chronic complaining.

SolEtude said...
on Aug. 9 2012 at 8:40 pm
Seeing as her grammer is impeccable and vocabulary at college-board par, I doubt that she is an "all regular student". 

Alex said...
on Jun. 2 2012 at 10:55 am
This guy probably was an all regular student who is just jealous.

tsl2013 BRONZE said...
on Apr. 13 2012 at 12:51 am
tsl2013 BRONZE, Breakfast, Iowa
2 articles 0 photos 35 comments
this is a great way to put it i agree but i may be one of those three students who actually enjoy the subject of AP US History. My school's AP classes is probably the biggest mash of all of the social classes of high school- the overacheivers, jocks (w/ cheerleaders and every other sport). band kids, drama kids, kids who overthink everything ay to much, and kids who dont have the push but just the interest. Its pretty funny that we're all pretty much friends in there and also that the Advanced Placement class is also home of some of the laziest 4.0 students I've ever met in my life. 

on Jan. 16 2012 at 10:38 am
SmellsLikeTeenWriter SILVER, Adel, Georgia
5 articles 20 photos 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Hey, you know, life’s like a bucket of wood shavings. Except for when the shavings are in a pail- then it’s like a pail of wood shavings." -Spongebob Squarepants

I agree with the majority of this article (This is my first year taking AP, and I've been telling my parents nearly every night during dinner that they should abolish the whole stupid program. When you've got spaghetti sauce on your notes because that's the only time you can study, something's got to be done!), but I don't agree with the whole antisocial thing. I really like everyone in my AP classes! Anyways, great writing. I hope someone up high in the education system reads this.

on Jan. 16 2012 at 10:27 am
EPluribusUnum DIAMOND, Woodbine, Maryland
59 articles 24 photos 280 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head)."
-Sylvia Plath

First off, that was really well written. I loved what you did with the AP's (Absolute Perfection). My parents made me take AP Government this year. They spent the first few months telling me that there is no reason I shouldn't get A's, that if I didn't do better I would have to quit color gaurd (which keeps me sane!), ect. Then they go and tell me I should invite so and so over, not be so anitsocial, talk to people, as if I have the time. My situation in that class is not unique. Actually, I think I'm on the better end of the pushy parent scale. Still, there are probably a whole three kids in there who are actually interested in the subject. Your article really captured the boat that a lot of my classmates are in.

on Jan. 9 2012 at 5:36 am
Chaness1000 SILVER, Tenafly, New Jersey
5 articles 0 photos 10 comments
As much as the separation may appear beneficial right now, in my school, it does exactly what this author says. There are 2 distinct groups and we ARE indeed clueless of how to deal with people from opposite spheres. And when we are out there in the world, where there are no longer the safe barriers protecting us from those supposedly vile normal people who do not share our interests, well the world will come crashing down. I also disagree when you say that the author has taken an absolute stance against AP classes. She is merely stating the way she sees the world, which is an opinion shared by a majority of teenagers who do indeed learn and master the art of complete and utter regurgitation because sadly, we do have horrible AP teachers as many high schools do. The author argues not about the system in every particular school but rather the system as a whole. And she is correct on that matter. The system where we as students are bred to take a test, regardless of how much actually sticks, is flawed at best. Even you can not say that you study SOLELY for the joy of learning new information. Students study for the A, and we care very little whether we actually learn anything unless god forbid, we have a pop quiz. That is the way we have been taught to think because the consequences of cheating, cram-studying, and stress do not even compare to the consequences of a bad grade. And that is not to say that all students, or all schools feel this way, but if one was to take a poll and see exactly how many people actually cared about the class they were taking, well we'd be stuck with the sad reality that most can't even state the importance of learning their AP subject. It may be unfortunate, but it is the reality that must be recognized

Alexrawr96 said...
on Dec. 29 2011 at 12:29 pm
This article really fits what most AP classes are about. While some can be stimulating, most hold nothing that actually engages a student. In my school teachers do seem to forget that we have life outside class, and the ones who do the best are the ones whose life revolves around school. While good grades are essential for college, AP classes need to remember that most kids want to be able to remember more in their childhood then those 4 hours of AP homework they had every night. They need to find a way to balance the challenges of learning something advanced in an engaging way along with the fact that teenagers NEED to have time to also relax and socialize.

on Dec. 27 2011 at 12:51 am
Victoriakites BRONZE, La Grange, Kentucky
1 article 2 photos 2 comments
While some of you mentioned that the reason for taking AP was for the intellectual stimulation, what if there was a substitution for AP classes that were more about learning, opposed to memorization? And by actual learning, I mean having stimulating discussions, which I often find some of my fellow students are hindered from because classes ‘teach’ for testing purposes. However, AP, to me, is accurate reflection of what college intro classes will be like- memorization. The problem that I come across is that I’m not in college- I’m a high school student and I have other things I do outside of my 8 hour school day along with my 4.5 hour stack of homework and AP classes offer me the ability to obtain college credit for a low price, but, why should I take them opposed to community college dual credit offered at my school? Hmm… From my high school experience with AP (I'm a junior taking 4 APs, and 1 both freshman and sophomore years) I can say it is easy to manage one or two at a time. But when you have more, like 4 in my case, along with 3 other honors classes, work piles up exponentially, and you rarely get time off. To address some of the fellow commentators on some students only taking AP classes for the wrong reasons and then being frustrated with work, I LOVE the subjects my AP classes are in, but, the workload is tough on anybody. Also when reading this article, prior to reading the comments, I perceived the authors use of "Antisocial Puppets" and "Annoying Prodigies" as not an expression of jealously as some assumed, but a comment on students that she, and I and most of you fellow AP students have meet in classes. Why do people take AP? Because they will not be challenged in a regular class, a decision insinuating they they are smart, or even at a ‘prodigal level’ as they are taking college level classes. And as a result from taking AP in substitution for regular classes, work piles up and makes students 'Antisocial'. Ultimately, I think what the author is trying to say though is how some of us get sucked up in the CollegeBoard trap, and to be honest, the execution of the author’s description of the AP classes being “weapons of mass destruction” is a persuasively well used. As I touched on before, dual credit is offered at my school in placement of regular level and AP level classes. But the problem for me is that If I want to go out of state or two a private college, they won’t accept my dual credit from the local community college, so I, and most of my other fellow students do is take on the enormous work load that is AP so we don’t constrict our decisions on where we go to college. This goes back to the CollegeBoard trap, and to which I even willing to further as the Higher Education Trap. Refusing to take college credit from students who didn’t take AP but the dual route, even if it from a community college, just so you can sell the classes to the student when you attend your university? Shameful, and shows how money hungry our world is. -Victoria

on Dec. 3 2011 at 4:51 pm
CassaJade SILVER, Rancho Santa Fe, California
6 articles 9 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
\"The world may be broken but hope is not crazy.\"
-John Green

As well written and clever as this is, I completely disagree.  I have taken both AP and regular classes, and AP classes, for me, are far and away the better of the two.  One of your main arguments is the memorization and subsequent regurgitation of information.  While this is true and makes sense in subjects like the sciences - where personal opinions bear little relevance anyway - it is absolutely wrong in other subject areas.  Any AP English student can testify to the fact that without a unique perspective on the question, there is no way to score well.  And while there is, of course, some knowledge of literary techniques and devices to be memorized, they are useless without a thesis to support and a higher level understanding of text that can only be learned, not memorized.  So while yes, AP classes take more work than their regular counterparts, the good AP student is fully aware of his or her workload and should be willing to put forth the effort required for a deeper understanding of the material.  Students who take APs exclusively for the weighted GPA or because of parental pressure are the same students who are inevitably going to end up hating the classes.  The original goal when developing AP classes was for students with a specific area of interest to be able to study their subject in far more depth.  If the student lacks this interest for their subject, if they are not motivated to put in the extra effort, then they shouldn't be in an AP class to begin with.

on Nov. 11 2011 at 8:08 pm

Also, arguing "why should I learn this anyway?" is completely pointless. Why is anything in school worth learning? You could use that argument for anything, so there's really no point, sorry.

All these people agreeing with the author make me sad; you must not have had good AP teachers... :/ They make the difference.


on Nov. 11 2011 at 8:04 pm

Okay... I can't even begin to tell you how angry this article makes me... I'm insulted. Sure, the play on "AP" was clever... But I can't find much else to compliment.

I see the author's point about the social stratification, but while I don't necessarily agree with the reality of things, I'm honestly not complaining. There is nothing that bothers me more than people who don't care about school, and unfortunately that's the majority of the people who take regular classes. This is not always the case, I'll admit, and it's sad to me that those who do care sometimes get lost in the shuffle, but why should I suffer on a daily basis with people like that in my classes? Health, PE, and LifeSkills are bad enough...

For me, AP classes are so necessary. Without them, (and yes, all of the work/stress that comes with them) my high school experience would be nothing academically. That's not to say they are right for everyone, however; they most certainly are not. I totally see how AP classes could ruin a student- taking them purely for the weighted GPA or because your parents say so aren't good reasons to take them- and if the person isn't prepared for the work, then what the author is suggesting is totally possible. I totally agree with meh10's comment that "It all depends on the teacher and the student." It very much does depend on a number of factors, and I would caution the author against such an absolute stance in the future, as others have said.

Also, for the record, the order of Chinese dynasties is as follows (I swear to goodness I didn't look these up): Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han, Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing, Republic.  (Apologies for spelling inaccuracies, etc.)


meh10 SILVER said...
on Oct. 29 2011 at 3:45 pm
meh10 SILVER, Wappingers Falls, New York
9 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The will to win isn't important. Everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters."

And, there are students who aren't in AP classes who aren't "unmotivated slackers."  Be careful with absolutes, they make it easy to disprove arguments.

meh10 SILVER said...
on Oct. 29 2011 at 2:30 pm
meh10 SILVER, Wappingers Falls, New York
9 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The will to win isn't important. Everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters."

I completely disagree with this.  I'm currently taking my 6th, 7th, and 8th AP classes at a school where the intellectual stratification you talk about could not be more prominent, and I have time for 3 varsity sports, premier soccer, friends, orchestra, and relaxing.  The variations on the letters were clever but I was insulted by your message that AP classes ruin students.  Last year I took AP English Language and it was the most stimulating class I have ever taken; all we did was discuss and debate our own ideas.  Maybe in your school it's like this, but generalizing and insulting talented students isn't really appropriate.  I don't take the classes for the GPA, I take them for me, and there is nothing wrong with that.  If the classes are killing GPAs and you hate them so much, drop them.  I agree that there is a type of student that they are wrong for but for some people they are perfect.  It all depends on the teacher and the student.

on Oct. 20 2011 at 2:41 pm
tabbycat27 BRONZE, Columbus, Ohio
1 article 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.
- C.S. Lewis

This article was written in a very creative and brilliant way, but as someone in my senior year of high school who has racked up 7 AP courses I can say I do not agree with this.

I have heard of those people, the ones who have strict parents who want them to succeed and who spend the time they could be socializing studying, but I cannot say this is the same for all people. I wish this article was written as an observation by this writer, rather than them assuming this is what we all feel.


leivajesse3 said...
on Sep. 30 2011 at 11:08 am
This article is very well written and I absolutely agree with it.

leivajesse3 said...
on Sep. 30 2011 at 11:03 am
This is very well written and I absolutely agree with this article.


SciArc

MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!