The Stigmas Surrounding Advanced Placement Courses

Student Perceptions on the Limitations Surrounding Enrolling in AP Classes at Jordan

Ben Throckmorton, Staff Writer

There is an unsaid label attached to AP classes that tell students that they are only for the “smart” students of our student body. Because of this, many students feel that these classes are exclusive or selective. Because of the AP label slapped on top of the class name, students automatically associate these classes with large amounts of work and studying which can scare some students away. Something else that may discourage students from enrolling in AP courses are the stigmas attached to them.

I interviewed a student named Aniyah Simms, a senior here about Jordan, to see just how students perceive the stigmas that surround AP classes.

Do you think that AP Classes at Jordan have a stigma attached to them?

“Yes, I feel like there is a stigma around AP classes for African American students. Mainly discouragement comes from other students, mostly white students. I’ve never had a white student explicitly talk down to me or discourage me verbally, but it’s something I can definitely feel from them. Some of my other friends have felt the same thing from students in AP classes. This stigma is coming more from a group of students rather than just one.  I have underclassmen that look up to me and ask about my AP classes, and when I tell them good things about the classes and the teachers they think that taking AP classes is more attainable. Anyone can take an AP class- your grades should influence you to take an AP class because it really does help your GPA and show colleges that you’re willing to put in the work now and you’re not waiting until college to prove yourself.”

Aniyah is an awesome example of what it means to be a Falcon. She encourages others to do better and is willing to put in the work necessary to succeed. 

Jannire Mireles-Camey is a junior at Jordan, who also thinks that AP classes are often geared more towards white students than students of color:

Do you think that AP classes are more heavily advertised towards white students than students of color? Or, is there a stigma around AP classes that pushes Spanish speaking students away from taking AP classes?

“I feel like (yes), teachers focus more on the white students who like to take the AP courses, rather than actually talking to students of color to take their AP courses regardless of how smart they are. I feel like students of color are less aware of the AP classes at our school, and white students are more aware because of their parents. My parents don’t really know what AP courses are and can’t really motivate me to actually take the classes, because they never took them.”

Things that discourage students from taking AP classes include the end of year AP exam, homework, studying commitment, and peer influence. If student A’s friends are taking an AP class, then student A is more likely to sign up for the said class because of the people around them taking the course. Inversely, if student B’s friends are not signing up for an AP class, then they might feel less inclined to take the course because it is different from the actions of their friends. Sometimes students can associate AP classes with being too nerdy, which can further deter them from enrolling.

Advanced Placement courses are not easy, but they are also not the hardest things you will encounter in High School. They can prepare you for college expectations of studying, assessments, and time management. If you are reading this and are thinking of taking an AP class… DO IT! Be ready to work, but also be ready to learn. 

If the cost of college and the fear of student loans are a concern when applying to college, this is another great reason for taking an AP course. Many schools have AP credit policies that can potentially save you money and time when in college. If you pass and AP exam in high school, you can often be rewarded with a college credit. Do the work you do now can help you later! While the workload in AP classes may be more than that of honors or standard level courses, the truth is that anyone who is willing to work and learn can succeed in an AP class.