AP Courses: Are they worth it?

Molly Glus, Reporter

Hershey High School (HHS) is one of the top schools in the state of Pennsylvania, but does that pressure kids into taking too challenging of courses?

Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses are what many successful students strive to tackle. As students transition into their high school years, many choose the path they want to take in terms of course level. At HHS, many students opt to the honors track, leading them to take AP courses in their years as an upperclassmen. However, there are many pros and cons to taking AP courses. Because, while achieving success in tough classes is rewarding, the level of stress obtained with these classes, along with other effects, can create harmful results for students. AP courses are not meant for everybody, and it is up to students as individuals to answer the question: are APs worth it?

Majority of HHS students challenge themselves through these courses, and many have found both benefits and drawbacks to these courses. One of the major challenges of these courses is the pressure surrounding them. Whether it be by parents or friends, many students tend to make their course selections based on the opinions of others. Clare Canavan, a junior at HHS, says she has felt immense pressure in regards to the number of AP courses she should be taking.

“Even though I am taking two AP courses this year, I watch my friends tackling three or four APs in one year. It makes me feel like I should be doing more and working harder,” said Canavan.

Along with the pressure to take these challenging courses, the rigor of the course also adds to homework and study time, creating severe stress among students. Katie Cocco, senior at HHS, has taken six AP courses total in her junior and senior years. Through both years, Cocco stated that she feels the AP course load never lessens, and leads to her anxiety over work completion and test preparedness.

“Balancing all of my AP courses and their work is definitely a challenge. On top of all of my extracurriculars it is hard to find time to study enough for tests, and I am always worried if I am prepared enough,” said Cocco.

Similar to Cocco, Canavan feels the same level of stress and anxiety revolving around her AP courses, and she is only a junior. In addition to the shared levels of stress, Canavan finds herself feeling guilty for taking time off of studying her advanced course curriculum.

“It has gotten to the point where I feel guilty if I go to social events on school nights if I have a test next day, and I have already studied for two hours,” said Canavan.

Yes, there is a lot of stress added to student’s daily lives from these courses, but there are also extreme benefits seen from students embracing these challenges. HHS seniors, Victoria Corado and Elaina Joyner, both find that these tough courses have well prepared them for their future college courses.

“The workload is intense, yes, but you do learn how to manage your time and study effectively for more complicated topics,” said Corado.

Along with better time management, Joyner noted that if you perform well on the AP exams each May, you can save a lot of money in college.

“The majority of schools accept 4s or 5s from AP exams, so you can skip certain basic college courses. That is a huge discount off your costs for things such as books and the classes in general,” said Joyner.

Students varying opinions can concluded that there are both pros and cons to choosing to take these courses, and that decision to enroll in these classes is entirely up to the individual.

“AP courses are great preparation for college, but high school should be enjoyable,” said Cocco, “Make the most of your time, but don’t forget it is okay to have some fun.”