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Jun 06 2017
by Andreamarie Efthymiou

The Dos and Don’ts of Choosing an AP Education

By Andreamarie Efthymiou - Jun 06 2017
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Sophomore year, I learned the most important lesson that I ever learned in high school: Never take on more than you think you can handle just because someone tells you to. After graduating from a small private school in ninth grade, I was thrust into the harsh world of public school. I’m kidding. It really wasn’t that harsh... socially.

Do: Listen to your gut.

See, the issue wasn’t fitting into a grade of 327 people. That was easy peasy lemon squeezy. The bad part was listening to overconfident counselors that when regarding AP classes, spoke in hyperboles and hyperboles alone. Top colleges apparently only wanted students that took all the science classes, that were accelerated in both history and math, and that had 97+ GPAs while doing so. Wrong (insert game show buzzer noise)!

Don’t: Ever think you can’t get out of a bad situation.

Fast forward. I’m smack in the middle of first quarter drowning in 5 AP Classes. Individually, they weren’t that bad. Really! What made the workload so unbearable was taking them all together. I felt like I was trapped inside a Ziploc vacuum seal bag with my textbooks and slowly all the air was being sucked out. I was suffocating, no longer finding joy in learning.

Do: Talk to teachers.

And furthermore, I was stuck- superglued to this track of acceleration, which coincidentally was a concept I just couldn’t get in AP Physics C. Junior year was the same. Six AP exams, stress, and this time, a little adaptation on my part. It got better. By this point, I had learned to wield my most mighty weapon: my agenda book. I planned my days to the T, and though I often didn’t follow aforementioned plans, this helped me prioritize. And then came college applications. My Moleskine® agenda was of no use to me now. Fun fact: schools like it when you do WELL on your AP exams, which becomes increasingly difficult as you begin to take two per day.

Don’t: Let those teachers bypass you.

The question is: Do I regret it? And the answer is: Slightly. Challenging oneself is great. The issue begins when effort inputted exceeds favorable outcome. But oh did I learn. Time management, coping, relationships with teachers, and the value of extra credit. Fortunately, many of my teachers were understanding and held after school extra help sessions at which strong relationships were built (and this definitely came in handy when it came time to ask for college recommendation letters). But then again, some dismissed me with a wave of their hands and a B- average.

Do: Make sure you challenge yourself.

So I leave you with this: If you wish to take the plunge, use caution. The water will definitely be cold at first but hey, it always gets warmer doesn’t it? Oh and, make sure that while you’re taking your plunge, make sure to print out the AP calendar so you don’t schedule two for the same day.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Andreamarie Efthymiou - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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