The Purpose of AP Classes: What I Learned Junior Year

A reflection on Junior year.


Emily Sherman, Editor

Rye students are known for filling their schedules with AP (Advanced Placement) classes.  For some, it begins sophomore year, where AP World History and AP European History become accessible.  For others, it begins Junior year, when a large range of AP classes unveil.

Why are AP classes so popular among Rye students?  Firstly, they are challenging classes that can showcase a student’s strength in a particular subject area.  Furthermore, they can sometimes translate to college credit (emphasis on sometimes- not all colleges accept AP credits, and you usually need a score of 4 or above on the AP exam).

Rye is a community of overachievers.  We would rather attain the A than catch up on a few hours of sleep.  Therefore, it’s not a surprise that many Rye students find themselves juggling a myriad of AP classes.  As my Junior year is wrapping up, I’ve noticed that many students find themselves overwhelmed because they are unable to find passion in what they are learning about.  AP classes are a lot of work.  You should not be taking an AP class because it is labeled as one; you should be taking it because you are passionate about the subject area.

Of course, you might not like history and still excel in an AP history class.  The difference arises between you and a student who is genuinely in love with the subject of history and all it has to offer.  The other student will find the class much more enjoyable, making studying interesting rather than tedious.

Before my Junior year began, I knew that juggling AP classes was going to be difficult.  It was, and I often had a lot of homework and studying to do.  But I do not regret this decision because the AP classes I took were ones that I was genuinely interested in.  For example, I couldn’t imagine not liking chemistry and studying titration curves for an upcoming test.  Learning becomes significantly more enjoyable and interesting when you are passionate about the related subject.

While many enter Junior year with a slew of AP classes on their plate, it’s important to prioritize.  This is also the year of standardized testing, and while it is tedious, it does have to be completed.  I discovered how much better it is to be sitting in a class once you find genuine interest and passion in the subject.  I think that many students, caught up in the midst of grades and numbers, lose sight of what the purpose of learning is.  Learning is not meant to be tedious.  Learning is meant to inspire minds to inquire and ask questions and identify problems and discuss solutions.

It’s inevitable that there are certain course requirements at Rye, so I’m not saying that one has ultimate flexibility in their schedule.  However, when it comes to AP classes, there is flexibility- since you don’t have to take all of them (although I’m sure some students forget this).  Junior year was difficult, but it was also a year that fostered a great sense of community.  Whether it’s sending the homework assignment in a class group chat, or studying in a group for an upcoming test (late night study sessions in Dr. Zung’s room before the Chem AP), everyone is willing to help others.  The sense of community that Junior year entails helps unite a class.  All incoming Juniors: Good luck, you’ll do great!