AP Classes: Added Points or Actual Passion?

Walker Stewart 18' cramming for finals Photo credit: Andre Fisher

The education system and the necessity it has created to take the most challenging courses have altered the true, original meaning of learning for one’s interest, desire, and enjoyment. In a setting as competitive as Bellarmine College Prep this is extremely apparent.

Juniors and seniors, as they embark upon their educational journey, are filled with the furor to raise their academic standard for the sake of their GPA as well as college credit. “Because colleges place so much emphasis on being a competitive applicant, I think that a lot of students at Bellarmine in particular strive to stand out through taking as many AP classes as possible,” said Seamus Ruiz-Earle ’17. Rance Pascual ‘18 added, “I thought that you had [to take] AP classes in order to get into most colleges.”

While much of this is true, it seems that the fervor of taking AP classes for the sake of learning has dimmed down. Mr. Baxter, an English Literature AP teacher who finds immense passion in what he has learned and teaches, seeks to emphasize the ideal of passion that a student ought to have in a particular subject in order to enjoy and truly learn from such a challenging course. “I think students misunderstand what colleges are looking for, and they misunderstand what they are looking for in college,” Mr. Baxter said. Further explaining his beliefs, he said, “First and foremost, you ought to be passionate about the subject. You should feel prepared to tackle college level material. Finally, you want to be challenged to learn something new. For me, that is the Ignatian spirit of education.”

Some students agree with this sentiment and justify taking harder classes by looking at the expectations colleges hold for students, and how important these classes are to upperclassmen. “I think it is justified primarily because of the reason that people challenge themselves is to benefit themselves in the aspects of college,” said Sachin Narayan ‘18.

The varied responses from students and teachers on this subject beg the question: does the necessity to take classes due to the enjoyment of a subject still exist? Has our interpretation of education been solely defined as the purpose of taking honors and AP courses for the benefits given towards the student’s grade?

“I don’t take AP classes primarily for colleges,” Emmanuel Ngbemeneh ’18 said. “While it may be beneficial in some aspects, I take it for the benefits and the skills that make me successful in life.” Emmanuel takes 5 Honors/AP classes, yet still acknowledges the passion he has in his classes, allowing him not only to thrive in them, but also understand the proper purpose of learning subjects ranging from Calculus to U.S History and how to apply the information he has learned into his post-high school life.

Taking AP classes solely for the sake of college certainly exists. Nevertheless, the Bellarmine community and its students recognize the value of also appreciating the knowledge that generates from these more challenging classes, which truly represents the Ignatian ideals that Bellarmine students are taught to embrace.

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