Emily Zheng, a senior at Arcadia High School
Nearly four years ago, I wrote “The Truth about AP’s,” which sparked quite a bit of conversation about the emphasis placed on those exams. Some readers were concerned about my lack of experience in taking those courses and tests because I was a freshman. Now that I am a senior at Arcadia High School and an incoming freshman at Pomona College in Claremont, CA, I am revisiting that article and observing how it has applied to my high school career.
For some background, I took all of my AP classes at Arcadia High. I took three in junior year and am taking five this year. Though I will be taking the AP exam for all of my classes, I am only rewarded college credit towards graduation for two of them, and both must receive a score of 4 or 5. These will help satisfy some of my general education requirements, but do not affect my Public Policy Analysis major requirements. The courses you can waiver may vary depending on your institution and your field of study. For example, because Pomona College is a private school, my experience will be different than those who will attend UCs and Cal States because more credits are offered in those schools. Similarly, my experience will be different than those who are pursuing premed majors and the like.
I personally chose my classes based on what interested me. When I took regular Biology, it was informative but not captivating enough to convince me to take AP the next year. I was more concerned about learning about science in relation to current events, so I took AP Environmental Science instead. I fell in love with the subject so much that I might even continue studying it in college! This year, all my classes are humanities-based because those were the classes that interested me the most. Because I already satisfied my high school graduation requirements for math and science, I am not taking any this year. I chose classes based on subjects that I wanted to learn more about, such as AP Art History and AP Music Theory. All AP courses are rigorous because they are taught at the college level, but taking classes that I enjoy learning about make the work and studying a lot easier because I am more motivated to put in the necessary effort.
When it comes to APs, quality trumps quantity. You don’t need to take an excessive amount to get into a great school; I was able to take the classes that I wanted and was still able to get into my top choice by putting in the needed time and effort. I hope you find this article helpful, and if you have any further questions about high school that you would like me to answer in my next article, please leave a comment below!
— By Emily Zheng