Ask Alice: How Many AP Courses Should I Take at Montrose?

Tess Farr '22, Copy Editor and Ask Alice/Fun Editor

Around Montrose, the phrase “AP” is sometimes pronounced with despair and/or exhaustion and sometimes with pride – or with an odd mix of these emotions. Well-known for their high academic standards, Advanced Placement courses play an important role in any high school student’s life. APs truly are a wild ride – if you think that you’re doing well, the pride and sense of accomplishment from doing so can feel really rewarding. Conversely, at the low points that all of us have, from misinterpreting an essay prompt to completing an AP Physics classroom assignment and getting a 2/10, you can feel an overwhelming sense of incapability and even fear. So, why put yourself through this emotional turmoil? While there are many factors to taking an AP that obviously vary from student to student, college applications, pressure from adults or peers, and an individual desire to learn at a high level are common reasons for enrolling in an Advanced Placement course.

AP courses and college:

Director of College Guidance Ms Foley reports that “colleges like to see the ‘rigor’ in the level of classes their applicants have taken, and AP is generally the highest level.” She added, “Colleges use AP courses in different ways: for placement in a level, for, example, a language class, or for credit.” Some colleges will accept your AP course as a college credit provided that you receive a certain score on the final exam, but there is no singular policy among all colleges. College applications are obviously an important factor in enrolling in AP courses: 67% of students who responded to a survey answered that it played a significant role in their decision to take a specific AP course. However, you need to remember that while an AP may look good on an academic transcript, you do have to work hard for an entire school year to achieve that mark; college shouldn’t be the only factor in your decision.

APs at Montrose:

A majority of students take their first AP as sophomores or juniors. If you are trying to decide in which year you should take an AP when regarding your college application, Ms Foley says: “Highly selective colleges will look for APs on a student’s transcript in the year APs were offered to that class.” It is important to remember that all of these classes do require significant commitment and hard work – 95% of students that answered the survey said that they felt more stress from AP classes than from their other honors or CP courses. Because of the sheer amount of work required to do well in an AP, it is necessary to make the decision to take the class yourself. 71.4% of the survey responses indicated that students felt some degree of pressure from adults – such as parents, your advisor, and teachers – and peers to enroll in an AP course. While pressure isn’t always negative, you need to make sure that you are taking the course for reasons other than others’ expectations. A good way to determine if a class is the right fit for you is assessing the subject matter – if you hate math, AP Calculus BC may not be the place for you. If you really enjoy coding, you may be interested in one of the AP Computer Science electives. At the moment, Montrose offers 17 different AP courses throughout high school. In response to a question asking if there were any other AP courses that the school should offer, 40% of the surveyed students answered that they would like to see AP Psychology as a future option (AP Music Theory and AP Microeconomics were also mentioned). 

APs: What should you do?

As Mrs. Whitlock constantly reminds our AP Lang class: “You take this class because you love to read and write.” Ultimately, you should take an AP class if you are interested in the subject and because you are looking for a class that will challenge you. Mrs Foley says: “Taking an AP class requires daily time and commitment; they are not for everyone. Much of the content in any AP has to be self-taught, like a college class. If a student does really well in our [other] classes, they could consider taking AP classes [that correspond to that subject]. Many seniors take AP classes because they have more self-awareness about their threshold of capability and want to challenge themselves.” She also reminded us of the extended add/drop deadline for AP classes. This year, students had until the first week of October to decide whether they wanted to stay in their AP courses. This time is really important and should be used as an honest assessment of whether the class is working for you and your schedule. Ciara Scamby ‘21 said: “I take advantage of the AP classes Montrose offers for multiple reasons: I believe they better prepare me for college than honors/CP classes, they expand my knowledge on a subject that interests me, and they give me the opportunity to earn credits towards college through AP exams.” Ideally, you should weigh hopes for college prep, your interest in a subject, and other potential benefits of the class when deciding to take an AP. While it can seem daunting when considering college applications and taking others’ opinions into account, you have to remember that, at the end of this day, this is your education, and the amount of effort you are willing to put in will determine what you get out of the class.


Tess Farr ‘22, Copy Editor and Ask Alice/Fun Editor