AP vs. Electives

By Dain Maher Posted April 16, 2014

Many students find themselves at a crossroads when choosing classes for the next school year. A variety of classes are offered to cater to every student’s interests and intellectual abilities. As students make their selections, they must weigh which classes will help them graduate, which will keep them interested, and which will help them prepare for college.

Advanced placement courses are not required, but they certainly can help students better prepare for college. They look good on college and scholarship applications, and because they are so time intensive, they can help students manage their time more wisely. Those are all pros.

But there are plenty of cons that need to be considered as well. For instance, advanced placement classes can tank a student’s grade point average, they can take time away from other classes and extracurricular activities, and they can cause such severe burnout that some students might even consider not going to college after what they’ve been through in high school.

So, is it better to go the advanced placement route, or play it safe with electives?
Electives cover many topics ranging from shop and Spanish to child development, sewing and art classes. They are meant to teach students skills apart from math, science, or English. Electives can provide additional enrichment for a student’s education; in some cases they can also provide an easy “A.” Either way, at some point, students must choose whether to focus their education on electives or advanced placement courses.

For the serious, college-bound student, there really is no decision. Advanced placement courses offer more difficult material, which in turn necessitates a higher degree of effort. Lowry High School’s AP course material will certainly be valuable for college-bound students. More importantly, though, AP students will adopt important study habits, personal expectations, and goal-setting skills which will prove invaluable in college.

For those students who aren’t going to college, elective courses will provide a vocational foundation that will prove invaluable in their post-secondary education. For example, a welding class would be much more valuable to a future welder than an AP composition course. In much the same way, a future outdoor guide will find much greater benefit in additional fitness courses.

There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to education. Both the advanced placement and elective courses help students grow and develop important skills, talents, and potential. In order to formulate the best class schedules, though, students need to look at what lies ahead. The future will help students see clearly now, whether they should follow an advanced placement path, or stick to their electives.