You don’t have to FORCE the AP course


Madeleine Pham and Abby Warnock

EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS: Northwood has far more to offer than AP classes, allowing students opportunities to explore their interests.

Jaycee Hendrickson, Sports Editor

Since its inaugural year of 1999, one of the foundations of Northwood’s culture has been the strive for innovation and individualized success—and despite the annual debate, the restriction of AP courses to mostly upperclassmen aligns with just that. This is ultimately for the benefit of Northwood students.

By not focusing on inflating their schedules with AP courses, younger Northwood students have an opportunity to grow in and experiment with their extracurricular activities as they transition into high school. Programs that are unique to Northwood, such as the Humanities Core and the forensic science FORCE program, help develop critical writing skills and foster specialized interests that would otherwise be lost.

“I really like that I have the opportunity to take these classes,” junior Nikki Sanders said. “They have helped me learn about what I’m actually interested in and want to pursue in college, like a criminology or psychology major.”

Unfortunately, the fancy title of Advance Placement often blinds families to the realities of the importance of finding classes that will ultimately set students up for success.

“What I often see from my students and their parents is that they are very much focused on ‘how many APs my student can take,’” Northwood counselor Allison Singer said. “I do think that’s a very misguided way to look at it.”

Class selection should not be based upon the “do all AP or die” mindset, but instead focus on building a strong foundation for the rest of their high school education. It is just as important to consider what a student is interested in and what they intend to pursue after high school.

Restricting APs to mostly juniors and seniors also reduces stress for freshmen and prevents early academic burnout. Freshman year already has unique stressors such as adapting to a new environment and higher expectation of learning, which does not need to be coupled with maintaining good grades in a college-level class at fourteen years old.

“Students don’t always think about what it will be like to live through a year of school, taking on all of these classes that may not be related to what you want to do with your life,” Singer said. “That approach is often detrimental to success.”

The availability of AP courses still sparks arguments and comparison amongst the community pretty much every year, despite Northwood’s long held practice of not offering AP classes to freshmen. Some parents misguidedly believe that not being able to load up on AP classes will negatively impact their college prospects in comparison to their students’ peers at other schools.

This concern is unfounded. When universities review applications, they consider the school profile which specifically outlines the opportunities that Northwood offers to its students. Colleges are aware of what AP courses are available to students at what grade levels; therefore, it is not a disadvantage that freshmen cannot take any. They are judged within the context of their school.

The importance of maximizing the number of AP courses a student takes has often been overemphasized in our academically focused culture. The truth is that there is no certainty a student got into a particular college because they took more APs because colleges consider a wide variety of factors in determining admission.

“APs are just one way that students can demonstrate their readiness for the college experience,” Singer said. “A student can also demonstrate an interest in higher level abilities with classes taken at IVC and other Honors level courses that we offer here at Northwood.”

In the coming weeks, incoming freshmen will sign up for next year’s classes. Instead of panicking that you cannot load up on AP classes already, take this time to explore new interests and build that foundation of skills that will lead you to success later.