In May 2015 students from all across the United States will shuffle into the appropriate building, armed with only pencils and fear, and begin their assault on a test which has not only lost it’s meaning over the past ten years, but the value that is so heavily placed upon it. Once a significant part of American education, the College Board’s recent monetization of American students reflects a dark reality of what AP now truly stands for – Advanced Peculation. Touted as an “excellent way to save money and appeal to colleges,” the College Board claims that AP courses are a cost effective way to earn preliminary credits and gain the attention of colleges during the application process. It is due to this that a so called “AP fervor” has spread across American high schools like a biological weapon would spread a disease fast, effective, and with extreme expense to the target.
One cannot simply NOT take an AP course, or for that matter take only one single AP class. Now the emphasis is placed upon as many courses as humanly possible, with juniors now able to take up to seven at a time. If the College Board’s claims were to be held true, this would be a great thing. Saving money and earning an opportunity to get ahead would be awesome to kids that take several AP classes. Sadly, a different reality confronts the now befuddled student.
In the wake of ridiculously expensive textbooks touting to cater to the “newest version of the test,” a seemingly small but surprisingly hefty fee to take the exam at the end of the year, and yet more books to prepare for said exam, one is left with a bitter taste in their mouth and frayed nerves as they anxiously anticipate the numerical value that would determine their year, and financing, of enough merit to earn the precious “college credit.” That is, if there is still credit to be earned. In the wake of the AP epidemic colleges have taken a 180 in their opinion of AP credit. Once accepted outright, most colleges now minimize the impact of a successful AP test, with a mere few credit hours given to those lucky enough to score high on the exam. Even worse, an increasing amount of schools have denied all acceptance of AP credits, claiming to “not detect any difference whatsoever” between students who scored well on the exam and students who had never taken the class before. With students facing no reward for a year’s worth of trouble, the only ones getting enriched are the ones in charge.
Boasting over half a billion dollars of revenue, the “nonprofit” College Board has pulled an “Algebra II/Trig” and developed an inverse relationship with the students it promises to help – as their profits go up, student benefits go down. When the beneficiaries are limited to a millionaire president and a handsomely paid group of executives, leaving the students in the dust, it is time to change the way we handle advanced education as a whole. Forced down the rabbit hole, one must choose between regular classes, perhaps too slow for some, or classes controlled by a profit seeking corporation. In a new age with readily available means of learning and accessing information, forcing a no win scenario upon students is outdated as buying a car phone. Education shouldn’t mean picking one’s poison, it should be picking one’s best path to success; one that doesn’t involve someone paying an arm and a leg, a pencil and a pen.