Editorial: Welcome to Cary-Grove University

Do you know what’s happening on May 5th? I do. I was told a dozen times during the first week of school. It’s the day that AP testing is happening. These days, AP is all anyone talks about. “What classes are you taking next year?” “AP Psych, AP Stats, AP Physics, AP Lit, AP…”

The push for AP classes has become overwhelming. In fact, I’ve even had a teacher talk to me about 2016’s AP tests and how we, as a school, need to be ready.

In freshman seminar, kids are now introduced to a new “Cum Laude Graduate” program that is designed to push kids to take a more rigorous course, and by doing so, they will receive special recognition at their graduation. The requirements include taking at least one AP class, meeting or exceeding standards in all areas of the Standardized State Testing, or having a growth of at least 6 points from their Explore to their ACT test, and having at least 25 hours of community service. Kids are also told that this is something that can be achieved by every student at Cary-Grove.

The term “Cum Laude” is used all around the world and can be translated from latin to mean “with honor”, and is usually associated with a university or state institution and used in an undergraduate program.

By bringing such a term and pressure, does it not change the the feeling of Cary-Grove High School to Cary-Grove University?

The talk of AP is constant. It never sleeps, nor do the kids enrolled in the courses.

Now, I’m not here to say that AP courses are the devil, and should be done away with altogether. I, enrolled in two of them myself, appreciate what they can bring to an education, and understand the positive effects of such courses. AP classes prepare you for a college class. They raise the bar in academic expectancy, and teach kids lessons in, not only the subject they are learning, but also in time management and self-discipline. However, AP courses are not the perfect idea that everyone is telling us that they are.

First, let’s break down the term ‘AP’, that is, Advanced Placement. If the classes are for kids who should be placed, academically, higher than their peers, then it really should be an elite group, right? I mean, theoretically, if every student at Cary-Grove should be ready and intellectually able to be enrolled in an AP course, then AP should then become the rule, not the exception.

I then bring forth the phrase that often gets slapped in my generations face of, “everyone gets a trophy”. Presuming that AP classes are for some of the smartest kids in the school, the “nerdiest” kids in the school, shouldn’t this be their moment of glory? Shouldn’t the kids who have always been known for their smartness, and sometimes even shamed for it, finally have their work pay off? If everyone in the school is enrolled in Advanced Placement courses, what makes them so special? If these classes become the new norm, what then sets apart the good from the better? Perhaps that is the problem.

Perhaps no one wants to be let down. But, if a student is not refused access to a class that they are nowhere near ready for, won’t they be let down when the stress hits them the third day of class, and they are up until 2 in the morning with work, constantly on the verge of a mental breakdown, only to find that, come July, they received just a 2 on their exam, not granting them a college credit? Won’t they be let down when they find out that all their hard work just didn’t pay off? What happened to the goal that was attainable by all Cary-Grove students?

Perhaps everybody does deserve a trophy, but do we all have to play the same game?

Surprisingly enough, not every 15 year old is quite ready for college. This leaves the ones who are not yet able to academically achieve at a college level worried that they’re not good enough. So where do they go? If there’s a Cum Laude expectation, then should we instill Lower Placement courses? Could the regular courses already be a Lower Placement course? With such an AP push, it sure seems that way.

No one wants to be put into regular Junior English if all of their friends are taking AP Lang and Comp. And who wants to come into high school to take Earth Science if all of their peers have been selected to take Honors Biology?

The point is, the push for AP, in theory, would be all well and good if it didn’t second-handedly discourage other students.

On the other side of the AP coin is the kids who are enrolled in the classes. It is no secret that high school is stressful, but do the generations teaching and parenting us realize the severity of the stress and the effects of such conditions? The rigor and demand that comes with an AP class just adds to that stress- and the addition is no small increase.

Everyone knows that kids get nowhere near the amount of sleep that they need. With ongoing jokes and playful talk of “I got less sleep than my GPA” being thrown around among students, sleep deprivation is nothing too new to students, but do administrators actually realize what these classes do to a student? In just about all AP courses, you’re guaranteed at least an hour of homework. So, if a student takes just 3 advanced courses, they can estimate a 3 hour period of extra work per night. That means that, if done right after school, a student will be truly done with their school day around 7 pm, about 12 hours after they’ve started their school day. But that’s just on their easiest days. Some nights, kids can anticipate spending 3 hours on just one class. That, plus extracurriculars, plus family functions, plus time for just basic hygiene, leaves little room on a social calendar, or time for required community service.

The goal here is not to eliminate AP from Cary-Grove, it is to take the pressure away. Students should not feel obligated to take a class they are not ready for just because of some college expectation. There shouldn’t be so much focus on college prep when C-G has so much more to offer. There’s a whole world of kids who don’t get recognized just because they contribute to the school in a way that doesn’t involve a special credit or a jersey. From Art to Band to Chess Club, Friends of Rachel, and everything in between, Cary-Grove is a great school- and that’s what we should be focusing on.

The pace needs to be taken down a few notches, because at the rate that AP is being pushed, I will soon be expected to earn my doctorate before I graduate high school.