Seniors must keep college in mind before dropping APs

Altered schedules may risk college acceptances

Tia Rotolo, Staff Reporter

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As admissions letters get sent out, seniors have begun to weigh the decision of whether to drop difficult classes for a free period during their day.

At New Trier, more than 895 juniors and seniors took AP tests in 2015. Students believe that the more AP classes one takes, the more appealing they’ll be to colleges.

Deborah Donley, a post-high school counselor, understands the importance of taking AP classes. “Most highly selective colleges encourage students to demonstrate their intellectual capacity by the challenge of AP courses. However, most schools are more interested in what is academically appropriate for students,” Donley said.

While taking AP classes can influence one’s chances to get into college, they come with a catch. The added work, stricter discipline, and increased time commitment rarely allow free time.

Hannah Wineman, a second semester senior, has begun to feel the effects of senioritis now that she’s finished her applications. “I feel like I’m so close to being done. At this point, it’s just so easy to fall behind or watch Netflix instead of doing homework,” Wineman said.

Donley doesn’t think it’s that hard to understand why seniors would want to drop their more challenging classes. “It’s natural to want relief after the stress of college applications and first semester. That’s why a free period seems like such an easier option,” Donley said.

Many students end up dropping their AP classes at the start of the second semester for a variety of other reasons as well. A senior girl couldn’t stand the rigor anymore, “It was just so hard to keep up. I would study for hours and continuously get bad grades. My effort just wasn’t being reflected in my grades. I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said.

While bad grades can make work unbearable, outside factors can also influence one’s decision. A senior boy had a hard time managing his overwhelming schoolwork with his job schedule. “My hours at work and my extra-curriculars became almost impossible with how much homework I was being assigned. I had to figure out what was more important for me,” he said.

However, in order to drop an AP, students are required to contact their future university. “The student is only allowed to drop the class after they’ve gotten permission from their college. They should also talk with their current teacher, as well as their college counselor to work everything out smoothly,” Donley explained.

A senior girl said her process was a long one. “The teacher, advisor, department chair, college counselor and college must all give you permission before you can drop the class. I emailed my college early on and they understood my reasoning,” she said.

Time isn’t the only discouraging factor of dropping a course. The post high school office highly discourages doing so. “The college could always take back your admission after you’ve requested to drop a class,” Donley said.

Taking an AP is a big choice– the post high school counseling department believes the student should recognize what they’re getting themselves into before they commit.

“We consider it a contract, and so do colleges. They expect that once a student is admitted, they will complete the senior year program that the college understood and based their acceptance on. It’s not about us or the students, it’s really about colleges wanting students to take full advantage of their acceptance and opportunities,” Donley said.

However, colleges can be understanding. “If a student has a real reason instead of a frivolous one, then we’ll work with and advocate for the student to make the semester more manageable for them,” Donley said.

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