Which fits? On-level or accelerated courses, learning at your own pace


Saydria Ostler

AP and honors classes may look good on college applications, but they require more homework. For some students, it is not too much to handle, but those classes are not the right fit for everybody.

Every year, students face the decision of whether or not they are going to take honors/AP or on-level classes. Students can earn college credit by taking AP classes in addition to earning the high school credit. AP classes can improve a weighted GPA. However, the classes are rigorous and more demanding than the traditional on-level courses. On-level classes move at a slower pace, allowing more time to learn the material, but less material that students go through. So, the question stands: is it worth it?

AP classes serve as preparation for college level classes. “I took AP classes because I wanted to get a good education and be ready for college,” said junior Sahir Jahan. Jahan plans on entering the field of electrical engineering after attending university. “The environment of accelerated classes is very good. You have people who are motivated, just like you, so you learn well,” said Jahan. Accelerated courses provide students with others of a similar mindset as well as preparing them for school after graduation. 

However, AP classes might not be the best fit for everyone. “AP classes are a lot of homework, take a lot of time, and I feel like they’re learning the same stuff as on-level classes,” said junior Preston Welker. Welker has not taken any AP classes but has taken honor and on-level classes. “You get to meet different people in on-level rather than sticking with the same group. I felt like I had more of a high school experience and learned more because I wasn’t rushed,” said Welker. Because on-level courses cover material for longer amounts of time, it provides students with the opportunity to better internalize the material.

While AP classes benefit some students in the long run, they are not without their drawbacks, according to senior Hallie Johanson. “There are a lot of cons. There’s so much work. It’s very stressful and draining. Sometimes, the classes go too fast, because it doesn’t matter if you get it or not; you gotta keep going,” said Johanson. 

However, accelerated courses are not all-or-nothing. Many students get stuck in the headspace that they have to take all AP/honors or all on-level, “Some courses, I’m naturally better at, so if I was in an on-level class, I would hate it. But when it comes to other subjects, I feel like you need more time to go over it. I would say it’s not as worth it if you’re not strong in those classes,” said Johansen. 

A hard reality if that just because you may be good at memorizing facts and information does mean that you will perform well in accelerated courses. “Students have to know that those AP classes aren’t for students who can just memorize things well. [AP classes] are learning thinking skills. And I think that’s a good thing, because some students think differently,” said AP World History Modern teacher John Prothro. 

At the end of the day, it all depends on what is best for you as a student, because everyone has different goals, different responsibilities, and different interests. Just because it works for someone, does not mean that it will work for you. So take the time to research the class and ask friends or siblings who have taken the class to decide whether or not it is worth it for you to take the course.