The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

Wellness

November 5, 2021

One of the main arguments in favor of an AP cap is that it will increase student wellness and decrease stress related to an overwhelming workload. According to MVLA Board President Fiona Walter, students might feel less pressure to take more AP classes in order to keep up with their friends or build a competitive college application if an AP cap was enacted.

“The argument would be that as a student, you could choose the three topics that were your favorite, or the two that you really wanted to do a deep dive on,” Walter said.

Math teacher Hector Arias cited its ability to ensure students aren’t taking significantly more AP classes than they can handle, and suggested limiting AP classes to two or three per year.

“Sometimes students don’t know their limitations and fall into biting more than they can chew,” Arias said.

But the community is split as to whether an AP cap would decrease student stress levels. Of 394 respondents to a survey on The Talon’s Instagram, 48 percent believed that an AP cap would decrease student stress levels. Some students believe that adding an AP cap doesn’t address other underlying issues that negatively affect student mental health, and not being able to get college credit for their courses could increase student stress in the long run.

“I’ve struggled significantly with my mental health, and the classes themselves aren’t the issue,” Sophomore Julia Pletcher said. “If you’re struggling a lot mentally, any class is going to be a lot. Adding a cap when it’s not inherently necessary just is not a productive way to help people.”

Instead, Julia suggests increased clarity around AP workloads, including universal and standardized question-and-answer sessions for prospective AP students. Julia also proposed mandatory counselor meetings for students interested in taking more than a set amount of AP classes, but Assistant Principal Galen Rosenberg said this likely would not be feasible. 

A key concern stemming from capping AP classes is the workaround potential by students. For example, LAHS students can take college classes through Foothill College’s dual enrollment program, which allows high school students to take classes at Foothill with parental and counselor approval, as well as receive AP weighting for them. 

While such alternatives could negate the efforts of an AP cap, Cathryn Krajewski, ’21, who participated in both AP classes and dual enrollment, found that dual enrollment was a better option than AP courses for her because of a more flexible work schedule.

“Some students are just going to do things that destroy their mental health and wellbeing,” Krajewski said. “And you can’t really stop them, unfortunately. College courses [taken through dual enrollment] are hard, they’re rigorous, but I found them to be a lot less stressful than AP courses. I’m not just handing in assignment after assignment after assignment all the time. My grade is really made up of my knowledge of the course and not constant assignments.”

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