Why AP Classes Kept Me From Being A Bad Student

Hey- Are you doing arts? You know that lowers your GPA right?

Hey- Are you doing arts? You know that lowers your GPA right?

Up until the exact moment that I sat down to write I was feeling pretty relaxed. The minute that I sat down at the computer, though, suddenly all I could think about was the fact that tomorrow is the beginning of the semester and all the things that I’ve been carefully not worrying about (being things that I really couldn’t do anything about) suddenly seem very imminent and urgent.

I’m sure that this is partly nerves. It’s difficult to say whether I am nervous because I fear what is coming or because I regret the fact that my nice, comfy vacation is coming to an end. Probably a little bit of both. I’ve really liked being able to get organized and to have time to nap and run and read books. But I really like classes too: the thing they never tell you about the Real World is how much hard work you have to put into just building a structure for yourself and to keep moving forward. School is very good about structure and clear objectives.

Earlier today I watched a Ted talk given by a young man on the theme of “Why Choir Kept Me From Being Valedictorian“. My mom had posted the link to it on Facebook, and it discussed a familiar dilemma that I remembered from my high school days when some of my classmates took required courses such as Gym as “Pass/Fail” because it would have lowered their grade point average to take it for a grade. The speaker ascribes this to a culture of obsession that we have with our academic accomplishments that emphasizes quantity over quantity and which devalues non-academic courses such as the arts.

For the most part I agree with this sentiment: it doesn’t matter how proud I am about my grades- no one is going to ask what my GPA was when they’re hiring me to fetch their coffee, much less to to direct their film. I absolutely agree that putting the emphasis on the grade and grade point over the quality of education is misguided, but I don’t agree that the solution is for high schools to offer fewer Advanced Placement (AP) courses. By the time I was a senior in high school I was taking quite a few AP courses- and while it is true that I don’t remember what I necessarily scored on the respective AP tests I do remember liking that the classes were difficult and a lot of work.

Maybe I’m alone in this, but I like difficult classes. I respect classes that make me work hard to get results even if I’m not good at them. I barely passed AP Physics (mostly because I didn’t have the math skills I needed) but I worked harder on my physics homework than I ever worked on any other class: which was a big difference from barely passing freshman English because I refused to do any of the homework.

So for all my worry that the coming semester is going to be difficult I also hope that it will be. I want for it to merit my hard work.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on January 12, 2014.

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