Advanced Placement classes establish excellence

For 118 years, the College Board has been providing advanced education for qualified students while they are still in high school. Through the administration of Advanced Placement (AP) tests and oversight of the classes that prepare students for them, the College Board has raised the ceiling for high school achievement and has made this level of rigor accessible internationally.

The biggest draw of AP exams is a figure that deserves all the publicity it receives; an AP exam costs $98 while the average 3 credit hour college class costs $594. That makes an AP test 16 percent of the cost of a college class, while still providing students with an opportunity to earn the same amount of credit. Four grueling hours at a time, students can ultimately save $19,000 on their overall college education over the course of their high school career.

Due to this college-level standard of the AP curriculum, students are held to an unyieldingly quick pace that pushes their learning to the highest level it can be. While students may be more comfortable with a slower pace set by a teacher in a regular honors class, Parkway’s mission is to make every student capable and confident, well-equipped to take on the world ahead of them, and by offering 25 AP classes at West High no student can settle for academic complacency.

For many students who wisely use their time in school, the need to study outside of school classes can be diminished due to the lower rigor of regular or honors courses. This can be problematic for students because it does not necessitate good study habits, and subsequently students are more likely to struggle in college. According to a study conducted by the Salam Noor of the University of Oregon, 63 percent of college dropouts cited academic disengagement and 71 percent of students cited absenteeism as reasons for their dropout, both of which are problems which stem from limited academic rigor.

West has done its students a great service by building its breadth of AP options; no student can be idle in their education at this level, and if they work hard in this challenging situation, it can pay off in the form of large savings for college. Beyond even that, AP classes build study habits and a work ethic that last far beyond a student’s high school days and help them step successfully into their futures. Success and achievements to be proud of come from beyond our comfort zones, and AP classes push us there.