AP Courses More Popular, Help Advance Students' College Careers

By: Brittany Gunter
By: Brittany Gunter

The end of the school year is almost here and a lot of high school students have one thing on their minds- Advanced Placement exams. Compared to 10 years ago, the numbers are staggering of just how many students are now taking AP courses nationwide. Brittany Gunter talked with AP students and teachers in Pitt County to find out why, and just how stressful those AP exams can be.

At J.H. Rose High School some students prepare for the AP exam by playing a review game.

They are just some of the more than 800 students in the Pitt County school system that took an AP class this year and plan to take the exam.

Senior Emily Kragel has taken 14 AP credits in her high school career and her hard work has paid off. She's graduating with a 5.2 GPA and is going to attend Duke in the fall.

"I wanted to take a challenging course load and learn as much as I could in high school." said Kragel. "Colleges definitely look to see that you took the most challenging courses that you could and that you tried your hardest."

Taking AP classes and exams is a pressure many high school students are feeling these days. While many students say the classes pay off in the long run, it can be very stressful.

"I feel like I'm feeling it a lot right now because of AP exams and so many at one time. It's definitely stressful, but once you keep your eye on the ball and know what your goal is then it becomes easier as time goes along," said junior Petrice Blemur.

Kragel and Blemur say they spend 2 to 3 hours a night on homework because of the heavy course work involved with AP courses. The courses are meant to be just like a college class.

"I think it's really important for college-bound students to take AP classes because they do prepare them for college especially for the type of writing, and I think a lot the classes have research components," said AP teacher Ashley Hutchinson.

Nationwide, more than double the amount of students are taking AP courses compared to 10 years ago.

For the last three years in Pitt County, each year more students have taken an AP course.

School Year Number of Students Taking AP Courses
2009-2010 723

2010-2011 770

2011-2012 825

Teachers say there are multiple reasons why enrollment continues to rise.

"Going to college is becoming the norm, so that means that's it's become more competitive and so students want to take those AP classes to boost their GPA,"said Hutchinson.

"If you can take the class and get college credit then is less money that you have to pay at the college level." said AP teacher Jed Smith.

In a tough economic climate trying to save money, or possibly cut out a semester or year of paying for college can be very beneficial. In the end teachers believe this trend is a good thing and it pushes students to better themselves.

"Exposing a student to that level of instruction before they go onto college really opens the doors and prepares them." said Smith.

Students can get college credit for an AP class if they make a certain score on the AP exam. The score needed to get credit varies at universities and colleges.

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