‘Tis the Season: The Future of AP’s at Latin

IMG_1870 Photo by Carli Kovel Henry Pollock In the non-tropical world, springtime can be described with one saying; April showers bring May flowers. For Latin upperclassmen, however, the motto would be better written as April rains bring May AP pains. As it has been for decades, a majority of Latin juniors and seniors will take some form of Advanced Placement exam this spring. This year, however, is different. The omnipresent AP U.S. History (or, as students called it, APUSH), is gone, replaced by the more fashionable Honors U.S History (HUSH). This change brings up the highly debatable question — has it been the correct move? When the decision was made, the answer from the faculty was a resounding “yes.” APUSH teachers presented their case that the requirements of teaching for the test negatively impacted the classroom atmosphere, and the department agreed. With their blessing, APUSH at Latin died and the experimental HUSH came into life. If the only criteria for judgment were student reactions, the change has been an overwhelming success. In tune with the sentiments of his classmates as always, Junior Prefect Jake Orlin spoke to the benefits of HUSH, saying that, in comparison to the honors course, “the AP course is really unappealing, frankly.” He goes on, acknowledging that “the honors course allows for creativity and extra time for projects,” making it a much better classroom experience. Current juniors are not the only students in favor of the change, for many APUSH veterans like senior Tybie Geleerd support the switch. Tybie admits that nearly every AP class she takes makes her “feel like [she is] in the class just to prepare for the test to get the [college] credit rather than to enjoy the material and actually learn the content.” Most Latin students, like their teachers, greatly appreciate the freedom of honors courses. The classroom atmosphere, though, is not by any means the only factor in the debate on APs. “The opportunity to take AP classes in order to get credits for college” is a great argument for continuing APs at Latin, Geleerd believes. She has a solid point, too; taking an AP in high school can allow a student to skip introductory-level classes, fulfill distribution requirements, or receive class credit once at college. Furthermore, they make it easier to choose a major, add a minor or second major, and take elective classes. Though AP courses limit academic freedom in high school, it is apparent they promote it at the post-secondary level. Finally, one must not forget the admissions factor in taking APs. It is no secret college admissions counselors are interested when prospective students take AP classes. That said, they also think highly of honors courses, most likely weighing the two types similarly, which suggests that the “admissions factor” is irrelevant. Aidan Mackie, a junior, would beg to differ. To Aidan, one of the greatest benefits of AP courses is that it “gives colleges a useful tool for judging the school.” While SAT’s, ACT’s, and SAT II’s create a standardized level to compare students, AP’s allow colleges to compare schools. Since “Latin does a solid job preparing students for the AP,” he says, “the students’ results reflect well on the school.” Thus, to Aidan, APs are needed to help show Latin’s outstanding caliber in comparison to other schools. When boiled down to the root issue, APs at Latin seem to be a case of the present against the future. On one side is the belief that creating the best learning climate at Latin is the priority. On the other is the desire to prepare as much as possible for the leap to college. Both have their pros and cons, and will be argued about more and more in years to come. The future of APs at Latin is very unclear — maybe May AP pains are here to stay; maybe they’ll fade away. Either way, you can count on April rains to be here another day.    ]]>