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AP Classes: Stress or Success?

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From Advanced Placement (AP) excellence banners lining the hallway to promotional videos, Howell emphasizes taking AP courses and 84 students earned the title of an AP Scholar in the 2017-18 school year.

Senior Jack Stiens has taken a total of 10 classes, including five his senior year.

“My average night I work at Starbucks from 4-10 p.m. Last year, when I had AP Lang, I would do Lang homework from 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. and all the rest of my homework after that,” Steins said. “I was getting four hours of sleep each night.”

On top of working 25 to 30 hours a week, Stiens is actively involved in six clubs and routinely practices his percussion instruments.

“Last year I had no social life,” Stiens said. “It was difficult trying to get all my activities to fit.”

Forty percent of Howell’s student body is enrolled in at least one of the 24 AP classes offered at Howell.  

Associate Principal Angie Kozlowski oversees AP classes and works alongside counselor Brett Griffin in an effort to increase AP enrollment.

“I believe that if every kid takes at least one AP class before they leave high school, it will help them be more successful in college or their future job,” Kozlowski said.

The push for higher AP enrollment is not a financial ploy by the district in attempt to generate more revenue, for Howell receives no money for increased enrollment. Howell administrators want to see the continued success of Howell students after graduation.

Aside from the preparation for the rigor that accompanies college coursework, most students take AP classes to demonstrate to colleges that they have taken college-level courses and succeeded. Although Kozlowski encourages students to stretch themselves and discover their full potential, she warns against students overapplying themselves.

“I have had some students enroll in seven AP classes and ask to take an eighth,” Kozlowski said. “I try to ask kids to find a balance because enrolling in too many AP courses could cause a lot of stress for students struggling with anxiety or depression.”

Howell offers courses like AP Foundations that aid first time AP students in navigating the daunting course load.

Block scheduling could be a possible solution to the excessive homework AP students have each night but budget cuts make it an unlikely option.

“I think block scheduling would limit the stress of both students and teachers,” Kozlowski said. “But block scheduling is expensive, and our district just doesn’t have the money.”

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AP Classes: Stress or Success?