The impossibility of dropping an AP class

By Madeleine Spanbauer, Staff Writer

Rhea Makkuni ‘25 doing her AP Chemistry homework

The topic of AP classes seems to be woven into the fabric of the Payton community. These courses, and the extreme difficulty of some of them, are a commonly discussed topic. Many students complain of spending an inordinate amount of hours outside of class devoted to APs, and some still are struggling to get the results that they desire. This can be extremely detrimental to a student’s self esteem because even trying their hardest sometimes can’t guarantee a good result.

While taking an AP class is hard, dropping the class can seem even harder at times. At this point, it looks like students who start the school year in an AP need to finish the year in the same AP. This could be unfair to students whose mental health is being directly affected by being in an AP. This could also be unfair to students who greatly underestimated the difficulty of the AP class before the school year started.

Students may struggle with the immense difficulty of content that comes with taking an AP class. Cyriana Lara ‘25, an AP Chemistry student, says, “Personally, I don’t think I have struggled with the workload, but rather the content. Especially with AP Chem, I feel like I’m learning an entire concept a week with minimal time to practice and I’m not always fully comprehending and applying the material.” 

Students who have other commitments might find it difficult to find the time to do the work for an AP class. Chloe Arrieta ‘25 thinks that sports take up a lot of time that could be doing homework. As a volleyball player, Arrieta says that, “Volleyball practice would go past 6 p.m. and we would have several games weekly so I would come home at 9 p.m. sometimes.” Sophie Gettelman ‘24 thinks that, “For me personally, balancing other commitments and AP classwork has been difficult, but not impossible. Some weeks I’ll have more work and I’ll sacrifice getting enough sleep, but then other weeks are lighter in homework and commitments; just easier overall.”

These could be reasons that students feel too overwhelmed to continue taking an AP class throughout the whole year. One student who is currently trying to drop an AP says, “I tried to drop [an AP] the first week of school, and [my counselor] told me to keep trying [in the class] and I’d get used to it. I didn’t get used to it, and I kept trying, and so then I went back to [my counselor] and I said, ‘I really need to drop this class,’ and they said, ‘You had to do that during the first week.’ I was wondering if I could do an emergency drop for mental health reasons, because [the class] is impacting my life. My counselor said it wasn’t completely out of the question, but it would be very difficult and I should keep trying [in the class] instead. So therefore, I think that the process is really dumb.” 

Overall, taking an AP class can be an extremely stressful experience for some students. The school does not currently have a straightforward way of dropping one of these classes, which can prove detrimental to the mental health of students. Possibly in the future Payton will have a better system in place, but currently there is no sight of an initiative that will make this process easier.

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