TELL US: When It Comes to AP Classes, Can There Be Too Much of a Good Thing?

Do stacked schedules and a half-dozen exams offer an easy road to the elite institutions, or is that a recipe for student stress?

If you read the Globe, then chances are you’ve heard the story of Claire Huang, the Lexington High senior who could graduate next spring with perfect scores on 10 advanced placement exams. The plan, Huang told the Globe, is for her AP classes to provide an edge as she when it comes to earning admittance in an elite college or university.

And if you live in Lexington, or Concord, or any of a number of leafy suburbs outside Boston, then chances are that if you don’t know Claire, you know probably know six students like her.

While many high performing school districts like Lexington have opted out of the Race to the Top federal education initiative, many students in towns like this are stacking their schedules in their own race to the top – of their class and, they hope, of the applicant pool for choice colleges and universities.

In recent years, however, the spotlight has shifted to student stress and there has been a bit of pushback against kids overloading schedules and taking as many AP exams as they think they can ace.

Last spring in Lexington, , which followed screenings of the film ”Race to Nowhere.”

“We’re in a dangerous place and we all have a part in that,” said Laura Lasa, who is now the principal at Lexington High School, but who acted as moderator that night last May. “And it’s time to keep the discussions going, but it’s also time to start doing.”

It’s not just a public school thing. Concord Academy has eliminated all AP courses, replacing them with “Advanced Curriculum” courses that are more project-based, according to the Globe. Concord Academy does still offer AP exams, which can in some cases alleviate a student’s requirements once he or she gets into college.

“Taking eight AP classes your senior year instead of taking six AP classes is not going to make a difference to an admissions officer,” Peter Jennings, the director of college counseling at Concord Academy and a former Tufts admissions officer, told the Globe. “They’re much more interested in the life of the mind and the quality of the work that students are doing. I think that message gets distorted, and that creates the AP mania.”

So with that in mind, we want to know, When it comes to AP courses and exams, can there be too much of a good thing? Do stacked schedules and a half-dozen exams offer an easy road to the Ivy League, or is that a recipe for student stress?

Let us know in the comment section below.


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