Student advises Lowellites to reshape the way they think about AP classes

Letter to the Editor

I am a current junior here at Lowell. As many of us are aware, the final course drop date was on Friday, Sept. 2. From the very beginning of each school year, that deadline seems to loom over the heads of every Lowellite. One has to make the choice: Is this class really worth it?

Take me for example, when the fall semester began, I was taking seven courses. Two of them were APs, and one was an honors class. While I knew many other students have even heavier course loads, this was the most demanding schedule that I ever had. As the semester continued, the workload for all my classes started piling up, and all of a sudden I was getting less than five hours of sleep a night during only the second week of school. I knew that a change had to be made.

We may not realize the full commitment that comes with taking an AP course.

I reviewed my schedule and decided that I would drop AP Psychology. While I thoroughly enjoyed the class and my teacher, I simply decided that since it was an elective course, the extra workload was too much to be worth it, what with all my other classes and extracurriculars. I talked to my parents about it and they supported my decision to drop, so I went to my counselor the next day and asked for an AP Drop Form. For those who don’t know, the process of dropping an AP course is very difficult. I had to speak with my counselor, my teacher, the department head and an assistant principal. I had honest conversations with each of these people and I told them my reasons for dropping and they all agreed that it was the best plan for me. But the conversation that affected me the most was that with the assistant principal. When I told her that I planned on dropping, she talked to me about the alarming rate of people who had been dropping APs this semester, and she asked me if I had any thoughts on how this problem might be resolved.


I will tell you what I told her: In most high schools, especially elite schools like Lowell, the attitude is that you need to take a certain number of APs in order to succeed. After all, that’s why I signed up for AP Psychology; I thought that by taking the course it would look good on college applications and be a fun and easy class. I was very wrong. AP Psych is just as much a serious course as AP US History, or AP Statistics. We as a school need to reshape how we think about AP courses. They aren’t just an extra bump up on a college app, they are a serious commitment that should not be taken on a whim.

We are fortunate to have such a wide variety of AP courses offered to us at Lowell, and I think that we forget how lucky we are to have such a privilege so we may not realize the full commitment that comes with taking an AP course. I believe that immediate action needs to be taken to change this action and to spread awareness of the seriousness of taking an AP course.

Thank you,

TJ Kanaley, Class of 2018