David Coleman, president of the College Board, said he knows students hear that all the time. He repeated it himself to a student audience at Homewood-Flossmoor High School on April 8, because he knows students benefit by challenging themselves through advanced placement (AP) classes.
The College Board is responsible for major testing programs, such as the SAT exam administered to high school juniors as a college entrance exam, and advanced placement testing that can give successful students college credit or college advancement for their work.
This school year H-F offered 26 AP courses with more than 1,200 students enrolled. The school’s AP program has grown significantly throughout the years — enrollment in AP classes at H-F is roughly four times higher than it was 20 years ago. This May 1,065 AP exams will be administered at H-F, according to Jodi Bryant, director of public relations.
H-F was recognized by the College Board in 2011 as the only Illinois high school with an exemplary AP program for its efforts in getting African-American students to succeed in AP classes.
Four students on an H-F panel told stories about enrolling in AP classes. Each admitted it was more work than they had thought, but they came away with the satisfaction of succeeding at something very challenging.
When Sara Valdivia told her counselor she wanted to go into the medical field, he encouraged her to take AP biology. She found the coursework very rigorous. She admitted “it was a bit scary because it’s more work, but I got used to it.”
Andre Thomas told students he not only learned a lot in his AP biology course, but he also learned time management.
“I would definitely encourage everyone to try at least one AP class. It will teach you a bit about yourself, how to develop study skills and improve your time management,” he told the students.
Friends encouraged Alex Wright to enroll in AP courses telling him it would help him prepare for college.
“I think people have the idea that AP is going to be the hardest thing ever. By taking an AP class you show that you can persevere,” Wright said. “Don’t be scared of an AP class. Just dive in and focus.”
Ta’ah Tompkins admitted she was scared. It was a lot of reading, but it got easier “once I got into the rhythm” of time required. She suggested students select an AP class in an area they are already good at.
“Don’t take on an English AP class if you’re not good at writing,” she warned.
Coleman said the points the students presented were examples of the benefits of AP work. Making it in college will depend on your own initiative, your time management skills and your ability to keep up. Students who have been through an AP course understand that, he added.