The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Editorial: Students should stop overloading AP courses

Elizabeth Cruz
Students stay up all night completing work for their advanced courses that they chose the year before, not caring how much work it would be for them. They often choose classes for the GPA boost or just because they feel like it, and then aren’t able to keep up with their workload.

As Carlmont students and staff start to prepare for the 2024-2025 school year, it is easy to miss the new changes made to the Carlmont Course Catalog. The most controversial change? New allowances for 10th-grade students to take Advanced Placement (AP) Seminar and 11th-grade students to take AP English Language and Composition. 

Currently, the only AP class Carlmont 9th graders are allowed to take is AP BC Calculus, which is a rare occurrence for students as the average freshman starts high school at the level of Algebra I. Even with advanced preparation, academically inclined students typically start at Algebra II, which is two levels below BC Calculus. This ensures that Carlmont students do not take any AP classes freshman year, although they are allowed to take certain advances courses such as AS English. 

While the addition of one AP class for 10th-graders does not seem very significant, it now allows Carlmont freshmen to go from taking zero AP classes to two, or even three if the student has proper advanced language requirements. This can add up to 9.5 hours a week to a student’s homework load, almost doubling their freshman-year load.

Carlmont offers classes for 22 out of the 39 AP courses that the College Board offers. The average high school with over 1,000 students offers 15, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Carlmont’s wider variety of advanced course offerings often leads students to create much heavier workloads than an average high school student should take on, with some students taking up to six AP or five-point classes. 

According to the U.S. News & World Report, Carlmont’s AP participation rate is 70%. Although Carlmont encourages students to push themselves academically, it also unintentionally fosters a competitive environment. With many people following their friends, students end up in classes they are not prepared to take or do the required work for.

One reason Carlmont students take AP courses is for the GPA boost. All AP classes at Carlmont are weighted as five points instead of four, and your weighted grade for that class is automatically increased compared to an unweighted grade. 

In the grand scheme of things, a weighted GPA is not even beneficial to college applicants. Colleges look at unweighted GPAs to give students equal opportunities, and thus weighted GPAs are often overlooked. Additionally, GPAs are not just numbers. Colleges take into consideration what classes were taken to achieve that GPA and the level of one’s course load. Even if an A in an AP class adds to your GPA than an A in a College Prep (CP) class, ultimately an A in a CP class holds more weight than a B in an AP class, even if they are worth the same amount for a weighted GPA.

AP classes are all created to be college-level courses, and that is not to be taken lightly. Students should only take AP classes that spark their interests, not because it’s an “easier AP” that will get them a slightly higher GPA. 

Another reason AP classes get taken is for the college credits to skip certain classes in college. Although this is an enticing factor, students should consider if those credits will actually transfer to the college of their choosing and the minimum score that has to be earned for those credits to be valid. Despite a three being a passing score, there are many colleges that only accept a four or above, or even only a score of five.

The College Board offers a free AP Credit Policy Search tool to help students find colleges that are right for them. The tool tells the minimum score required to receive credit, and the course credits equivalent to that score by college. Before creating a course load that’s too rigorous for you, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

*This editorial reflects the views of the Scot Scoop Editorial Board and was written by Elizabeth Cruz.

The Editorial Board voted 4 in agreement, 4 somewhat in agreement, and 7 refrained from voting.

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About the Contributors
Editorial Staff
The Scot Scoop Editorial Staff strives to maintain reliable reporting while covering the hard-hitting topics that interest our community. Content on Scot Scoop is managed, reviewed, and maintained by the editorial staff using various tools and methods to produce, edit, and publish content daily. Editorial Staff members are Gabrielle Shore, Myles HuErik ChengAnnabel ChiaAimee TeyssierUrvi KulkarniEvan LeongUjala ChauhanCharlotte GordonAlexander MenchtchikovBen RomanowskyJackson SneeringerArianna ZhuEmma GoldmanElizabeth CruzAudrey Finigan, Rachel Alcazar, and Alessandra Tremulis.
Elizabeth Cruz
Elizabeth Cruz, Scot Scoop Editor

Elizabeth Cruz is a junior at Carlmont High School and a second-year journalist with Scot Scoop. She is one of the vice presidents of her class and is currently employed at Nothing Bundt Cakes. In her free time, you can catch her working tech crew in the PAC or in the student section of a Carlmont sports game cheering her friends on! To view her portfolio, click here.

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