AP guilt affecting class enrollment
Photo by Gabrielle Stichweh
AP: added pressure.
Senior Allison Yan will have taken 13 Advanced Placement classes by the time she graduates, some of which she has been guilted into by friends.
“I felt like if I didn’t take (AP Physics), I’d be a failure in that sense, like I’d chickened out of the class,” Yan said. “Once the pressure starts, (you think), ‘If all your friends are doing it, why not?’”
This feeling of sticking with friends is a common one, senior Reanna Nartker said.
“They didn’t make me do it,” Nartker said. “I wanted to be with my friends, and prove that I could do the same things as them.”
According to Yan, peer pressure by family or friends isn’t left out of the equation when stu dents select their courses.
“I feel like everyone’s eyes are on me because I’m ranked pretty high in my grade, and if I do fail, everyone will know and everyone’s going to laugh at me,” Yan said.
“There’s this stigma in my circle, that if you don’t take AP Physics, you’re not worthy of graduating. I felt pressured in that class, especially since I don’t want to be an engineering major…If I had done it differently, I might have focused mainly on the humanities like (Composition) and (Literature) and not so much math and science.”
According to Academ ic Advisor Phyllis Bell, students sometimes feel they need to follow the same path as their peers.
“It shouldn’t be like that,” Bell said. “It should be very individualized to your needs, your goals, and just because a friend is doing something, doesn’t mean it is the right thing for you per sonally. Mason High School offers a total of 19 AP courses, and because of so many college credit opportunities, sophomore Lizzy Kong said students often don’t consider passion for a subject when taking the AP route.
“I’m really grateful that our school has so many selections of AP classes to take because not a lot of other schools have that same opportunity,” Kong said. “The fact is that all these (students) cram the AP classes, and they’re not even taking the classes they actually like be cause they just want the credits.”
Along with credits and peer pressure, Nartker said another incentive to take these challenging classes is a closer social circle.
“(Friends) were worried that they couldn’t keep up with everything, and they would want someone else to be in the same boat as them,” Nartker said.
According to Bell, this added pressure of social groups should not play a role in students’ educational paths.
“There is this competitiveness here that sometimes goes too far and puts the extra pressure on kids,” Bell said. “They
are looking at what their friends are doing, but what their friends are doing is not necessarily right for them — just like with anything else in life.”