Number of AP Students Jumps
September 16, 2008
Walking into their AP classes the first day of school, many students, who were expecting about 15 students, were extremely surprised to find their classrooms filled with close to 30 of their peers.
Whether it’s pressure from colleges, low prerequisites, or unusually ambitious students, an exceptionally high number of students enrolled in AP classes this year. “This could be partly due to the fact that the junior class has 17 more students, but that shouldn’t account for jumps as big as these,” Ms. Amanda Anderson, College Counselor, said.
Among the classes that have increased the most are AP Language and Composition, increasing by 32 students, and AP Biology, increasing from 16 students to 26. Mr. Bob Lyons, who teaches AP Biology, doesn’t know exactly what has caused such a large enrollment in a class “that almost always has 12-18 kids,” but he thinks previous students’ success has a lot to do with why more students are trying out AP.
AP U.S. History has seen major change as well, increasing from 55 to 82 students, a 49 percent increase from last year. According to Sister Jeanne, the lack of a summer assignment might be the cause. Usually, students receive the assignment and “about 20 get scared and drop out. This creates a snowball effect among their friends,” she said.
Molly Adams, a junior who usually stays away from advanced classes, felt pressured this year to take on APUSH. “My friends were all taking it, so I was feeling really dumb,” she said. Adams said that without pressure from friends and colleges, not nearly as many people would take the AP courses.
Another reason AP classes might seem bigger this year is the number of sections. Some classes, like AP Calculus AB, have been narrowed from four sections to three, making classes that averaged 17 now average 22. This is a major reason why the AP Biology class is so big. Mr. Lyons commented, “Science classrooms are completely booked; we have no room to add sections.”
Such large classes have had a mixed reaction between students and teachers. Molly Adams thinks the big numbers are “kind of good. There is a lot more talking, but less individual attention.” Even though the classes are large, she’s striving for a good grade, saying, “I definitely want to do well. I’m pushing for an A in that class.” Although Mr. Lyons thinks that “conditions are not ideal” with so many students, Sister Jeanne is thrilled, saying, “I love it. If you’re willing to do the work and can keep up, it’s definitely a worthwhile course.”
Regardless of enrollment numbers, students in AP courses this year will definitely have their work cut out for them.