How do AP Classes Affect the Students of DHS?


Kelly Finnegan, Reporter

Durango High School is a place for high academic achievers. Each year, students have the opportunity to add Advanced Placement, or AP classes to their schedule. These classes give students the chance to get credits for college in their future, but how many AP classes should students take before it becomes too overwhelming?

“I think it’s a matter of finding a balance. Some students can get here and find high school extremely challenging,” said 10th grade academic advisor Robert Aspen.

At the end of the AP course you choose to take, there is an option to take the AP test that could potentially allow you to obtain a college credit for that class, and receive scholarships if the score you get satisfies the preferences of your desired college.

“We definitely do not want students to feel like they are overwhelmed with school, but we want them to feel appropriately challenged to take those difficult courses,” said Aspen.

If you don’t think you are prepared to take an AP class, you can take an honors class instead. An honors class is a bit more challenging than the standard class, but it will get you ready for those AP classes when you choose to take on the challenge.

“The level of homework and covering material much faster differs from the standard class. Students are working much much more on their own, rather than having teacher instruction to help them,” said AP World History teacher Ed Cash.

Generally, students who take AP classes have an increased amount of homework each night. Depending on the class, you can have various amounts of homework each day, usually ranging from about 1-3 hours.

“I think that students balance these things in different ways. Many students find it overwhelming,” said Cash.

Many students who take multiple AP classes are also taking on the responsibility of extracurricular activities, which puts more on their plate.

“I think it starts with how you build your academic advisor. [Academic advisors] have a lot of mindfulness around making sure that you are aware of how many difficult classes you’re signing up for alongside your activities so that you are looking ahead and predicting that you can successfully manage your time, or that maybe something needs to fall off the plate,”said  Tara Haller, who teaches AP calculus and AP computer science classes.

AP classes help students in many ways and can start to prepare them for life beyond high school. These classes cover material faster than a standard high school class, and prepare students for the work they will receive in college classes.

At the end of the semester, students can take the AP test for their class, which then gives them the opportunity to gain a college credit.

“Two years ago we were at just under 300 students taking an AP test, last year we had about 500 students take an AP test, and this year we’re set to give over 800 AP tests,so it has rapidly grown,” said Aspen.

Although students may have trouble with the level of rigor in an Advanced Placement class, they can work their way up to those challenging class and get a good grasp on their future high school and college career.