Academics to the extreme: Seniors graduate with 10 AP courses


Photo: Emily Persons

Carter Burgess works hard during his independent study hall. He signed up to take four AP classes his junior year.

Many consider one AP class a challenge, but senior Kelsey Pepper hasn’t seen so few APs since her sophomore year.

Pepper is coming to the end of her high school career having taken 10 AP courses total: one AP her sophomore year, four her junior year, and five her senior year.

“I love challenging myself,” said Pepper, ”and if you want to challenge yourself, go for it.”

A typical night’s homework for her is about four hours or more depending on the time of year. Though she is able to get to bed around ten like her other friends, Pepper spends most of her time on academics and studying. She also holds high standards for the various clubs she is in and is captain of the St. George’s varsity softball team.

“If you take APs right, then they don’t take any more time than normal classes,” said senior Josh Walker.

Walker, with five AP courses in his past and five this year, said he is focusing his AP courses on math and science in order to basically skip his freshman year of college, getting him closer to his career-focused classes. He, like Pepper, is one of the few taking on so many AP classes.

I love challenging myself, and if you want to challenge yourself, go for it.

— Kelsey Pepper '15

However, sometimes taking the maximum amount of AP classes does not go as planned. Senior Nathan Weinreich went from five AP classes this year to three his senior year.

“I was basically forced into all of my AP classes,” Weinreich said.

Weinreich felt that his heavy course load ended up causing him to lose leadership opportunities, thus causing him to fail to meet the requirements of the Cum Laude Society and National Honor Society. He said that all rising AP-takers should know what they are getting into by asking questions to teachers.

Junior Carter Burgess is jumping from one AP class last year to four this year, and said he is hoping for the best.

“In order to set myself apart, I am taking the maximum difficulty classes,” said Burgess. He is keeping his eye on Yale for his first choice of schools, and also plans to take four or more APs next year.

Hoping to take a similar road, freshman Hudson Beaudry wants to be able to get into any college, keeping current seniors as his role model.

“I just wanna see how many college credits I can get,” said Beaudry.

On the other end of the spectrum is freshman Maggie Vento, who said she views those who load up on AP classes as crazy and has no desire to take any AP classes.

“In the end I want to learn the material and just ace it,” she said.

Vento plans to take all the standard classes and do well in order to understand the material.

With her own perspective of the ideal AP student is Mrs. Rhonda Charnes-Martin, teacher of AP United States Government and Politics.

“They have to have a strong work ethic,” she said.

She said in order to succeed like the students taking four and five AP classes, the student needs to put forth equal effort for all classes and not just towards the AP courses. Mrs. Charnes encourages those who can handle and succeed with a heavy course load to go for it.

In order to set myself apart, I am taking the maximum difficulty classes.

— Carter Burgess '16

College Guidance has an opinion on the topic too.

“It is important to take healthy risks when considering the courses in which you’re interested. It is always good to push yourself, but it should never be unmanageable,” said Ms. Beverly Brooks, Associate Director of College Guidance.

There is not a set number she recommends for everyone. However, Brooks said that, typically, students looking at highly selective schools should take two to three AP classes junior year and three to four senior year. For the ones taking on more, Ms. Brooks said that it takes diligence and discipline to do well when taking a large course load like that. However, some students never take AP classes. The course load all depends on the student.

Senior Cole McLemore, taking five AP classes said, “AP courses aren’t for everyone, and that’s okay.”