The Ultimate Stress Test

AP Classes vs. Having a Life


Staff photographer

AP Seminar students researching their chosen topics.

Liberty Simpson, Contributor

At Frisco High School, the pressure to challenge yourself with AP classes is immensely high. AP, or Advanced Placement classes, are college-level classes that students may take in high school to not only challenge themselves academically but for college credit as well. With the pressure to submerge yourself in the classes, it is common for students to become overwhelmed by taking more than they can handle. In addition to taking the class, there is often intense competition between students to do better than their peers.

A common struggle with AP students is the tremendous amount of work that is required by the classes. Frisco High School junior Alex Gould takes four AP classes; AP Research, AP Physics, AP Language, and AP U.S. History. Alex took these classes not only to challenge himself academically but to help himself prepare for the college curriculum and workload. He is also in the high school Theatre Department. “Time management is a huge factor,” said Alex. “Making time to fit everything I need to do, feels impossible, but just making a schedule to get everything done, and using your time wisely is crucial.”

AP Calculus teacher Wendy Wilson agrees. “Learning to manage your time wisely will come in handy,” said Mrs. Wilson, “especially with the AP Classwork as it can be stressful and rigorous trying to fit everything in.” AP courses come with high expectations. “AP students are expected to be able to handle the college-level material,” said Mrs. Wilson. “Balancing out your academics with extracurriculars, and doing the absolute best you can is expected.”

The college-level material can add a large amount of stress and can affect mental wellbeing. Alex agrees. “Oh yeah! I feel stressed a lot because there’s never enough time in the day. I lose a lot of sleep just because of how much work there is to do along with my non-AP classes. I’m always sleep-deprived and stressed to get everything done to the best of my potential, he said laughingly. “I spend upwards of four hours a night just on AP homework, after getting out of  6:30 PM rehearsals. It’s a lot, I know. However, I took these classes off of my own accord to challenge and prepare myself for college.”

Mrs. Wilson agrees. “There’s never enough time in the day to do everything,” she said. “It’s recommended that students only take two AP classes at once so that they aren’t as overwhelmed with the courses. Even one AP class can cause a lot of stress, let alone multiple.” Knowing this, Mrs. Wilson tries to minimize the amount of pressure on her students so they don’t feel as strained.

It is understood that AP coursework is going to be more strenuous than on-level material. Balancing academics and extra-curricular actives become a challenge. With the main idea of coursework on my mind, I decided to ask both Alex’s and Mrs.Wilson’s thoughts on the amount of AP coursework that is expected for students to do. Balancing classes and extra-curricular activities can be a challenge.

“I do believe that classes assign an immense amount of work,” said Alex. “Sometimes it can feel overwhelming.” For Alex, some classes assign too much work outside of school while some do a great job of keeping it in the classroom. He sometimes has to remind himself that college classes are not designed to be easy. Students must learn to be responsible and become better at time management when it comes to AP work. “I don’t believe that teachers always take into account that we have lives, extracurriculars, and work in other classes,” he said. “There’s just never enough time, it seems, but I’ve found a pretty good way to balance it at the expense of my sleep.”

Time is often the issue. Mrs. Wilson has a contrasting viewpoint. “I believe that some classes assign too much to students,” she said, “but most do what is necessary for the class. When we teach AP classes, we have to take into account that there’s so much information that you’re required to understand and get through in a short period of time. It’s a college course and our job is to make sure that we can get you ready for that test.”

Mrs. Wilson remembers what it was like to be in high school. Therefore, she takes into account that her students have other classes and lives outside of school. However, a certain amount of stress is going to be inevitable with anything that is challenging. Before enrolling in AP classesm it is important to understand that college-level classes come with college-level responsibilities. Realistic expectations can help prepare students for success in AP classes.