Restrict AP Classes for Our Mental Health! Sincerely, Students Across America


Andrea Piacquadio

Stressed Out Student

CENTENNIAL HIGH SCHOOL- Imagine juggling double the workload of a senior in college before you’re legally eligible to get your driver’s license. Or maybe twice the workload of a college junior before you’re old enough to get a job. Imagine dealing with the pressures of satisfying the everyday high school credit requirement on top of more than a full college-level course load. It sounds stressful, impossible even. But while it may seem impossible, in schools all across the nation, it, unfortunately, is not. 

The above scenarios are the reality of high school students all across the nation whose schools offer unrestricted Advanced Placement (AP) courses for college credit. This boundless freedom of unrestricted AP classes granted to students is the education system’s greatest gift and curse. Of course, it allows for passion exploration and encourages students to push themselves harder in their academic endeavors, but these few benefits come at a great price. The cost of students’ mental health. When students are able to take an unlimited amount of AP classes, it’s easy to go overboard in the registration and schedule planning process. There is no sound reason for a high school student to subject themselves to six, seven, and even eight AP classes a year, a course load that is well over that of a full-time college student. 

Taking on such a heavy course load and more at such a young age naturally leads to increased stress, anxiety, unease, and other mental health issues; issues that could be avoided, or at the least, minimized, with an instituted cap placed on the number of AP classes one student can take a year. For the stability and safety of students everywhere, more developed AP regulations are beyond necessary. 

Rising academic pressure, often resulting from this overload of AP classes, can also decrease motivation in students and even ultimately increase the risk of school dropout rates. Increased pressure can cause students to feel overwhelmed, which may prevent them from thoroughly completing their schoolwork. This also pairs with a loss of motivation due to feelings of overwhelmedness and stress. 

Despite these negative consequences, some still say that academic pressure can help push students to do their best. However, while academic pressure may eventually lead to students working harder and pushing themselves more, the way that it does this is unhealthy for the student and can lead to several problems, both mentally and physically. Therefore, students’ health is more important than a possible way to push them to do better in school.

Some also believe that academic pressure is a part of every school environment, so students should learn to adapt to this. However, while it may be true that academic pressure is part of every school, that does not mean that students are not being hurt by this. Students all across the world are being harmed by increased levels of academic stress. Therefore, it is not logical to simply expect students to adapt to these high levels of pressure.

With levels of academic pressure increasing in schools all across the country and having several harmful consequences on students such as increased stress levels, feelings of depression and anxiety, and decreased motivation, it is imperative to take measures to reduce this demand. Schools should take measures to reduce some of this pressure put on their students by making sure to give them some time to themselves free of academics each day, even if it is just for a few minutes, and limiting the number of AP classes they can take, subsequently lowering the pressure that is put on them. In addition to this, families of students should make sure to be mindful of the stress that the student is under and what they are going through, and make sure not to push them too hard. We’re all people, whether you’re taking eight AP classes, or four. Students’ well-being should always come before academic performance and course load.