Students take two roads
January 10, 2018
The wide variety of AP courses offered to Fox High School are recommended by teachers and students alike. Despite the change in difficulty level most students face, there are many positives that come out of the program.
One such benefit is the college credit that can be earned by taking the AP test at the end of the course. The cost of college is a struggle for many people. Besides paying for the courses themselves, college students are also faced with paying for books and other supplies the classes may require. Even in programs such as CAP, students are required to purchase books and other supplies, and this cost can quickly grow.
“Whereas the AP test at most will cost you about 95 dollars,” Tyson Sigette, the AP computer science teacher, said, “the price changes slightly every year.” Even with the slight fluctuation in price however, the AP courses still offer students a more affordable way to get ahead with college credit. That advantage, Sigette admitted, was a very important goal. “Our goal is to try to send students [to college] with at least 15 credit hours. That would be five AP courses, or other courses that offer college credit, if you start college with at least 15 credit hours of college your chances of success are skyrocketing.”
Junior Payton Kostich also saw the financial benefit that there is to be gained by taking AP courses. She said that “college credit is really great because I don’t want to go into too much debt.”
Besides the credits that can be gained by taking the courses, AP also offers students a chance to prepare for what college will be like. “The difficulty level is kind of intense especially when you are not used to it,” Kostich said, “but once you get the hang of it, you learn you actually have to study for stuff.” So, in the long run, even though AP classes may seem harder, they are a beneficial way to prepare for what the stress of college will feel like. Overall, Kostich believed that the AP courses “give me an opportunity to challenge myself.”
Sigette agreed. “The benefits of taking AP classes are to get a student ready for college. Fundamentally ready to answer higher level thought questions, and not only to do well but to excel above other students who are going to college that did not take AP,” he said. “A lot of times in a regular class there is going to be a right or a wrong answer and students can memorize ‘hey this is the right answer I can write it down on a test I can get a good grade’. With college level work, and in this case AP, a lot of times it comes down to there is no right or wrong answer, it’s what do you think and how well can you justify your answer.”
Because of this more challenging aspect of the course, some students may not take AP. “A lot of students believe that the AP program is just for the smart kid but it’s really not. The AP program is open to everyone. Yes, there is a lot of hard work in it, but the rewards for that hard work are tremendous,” Sigette said. He also added that many “students that suffer from a lack of self-confidence.”
In the end though, it is important for any student who is considering taking AP courses to remember a couple of things.
One such thing is to remember to be confident in your work. “It’s being able to justify yourself and having that confidence and going I can do this because we’re asking what do I think,” Sigette said. Besides this, it is important to understand that the AP teachers are ready to help any student who is willing to take the extra time. “I see the AP teachers come in early, stay late, always willing to work with people who are willing to work. And it’s that mind set of I can, I can do this even if I never took harder classes before because ultimately everyone can succeed,” Sigette said.
Kostich also pointed out that students taking AP have access to the AP Lounge, and this can be a very helpful asset to keep in mind while going into the courses.
So overall, the AP courses offer many benefits to students who are planning on attending college. Even if a student does not wish to take AP classes in math, language arts, science, or history, there still may be a class they are interested in. “We have a large offering of AP classes here and honestly I couldn’t begin to list them all,” Sigette said. So in the end it is an option that many people at Fox High School would recommend.
High school holds a variety of opportunities to aid students in their future careers. From AP courses, to half days at Jefferson College, there are multiple ways students can work to achieve their educational goals while still in high school. One such chance is CAP, the College Acceleration Program. Much like AP and dual credit courses, CAP offers student college level courses in exchange for credit hours. This will lead to the student finishing school with college credits. The main differences are that CAP is at the Jefferson College Arnold Campus, and students will graduate high school with an Associate of Arts degree. On top of this, AP classes tend to last a year, while parallel courses tend to only last a semester in CAP. So, what are some of the school’s opinions on the program?
Language arts teacher Steve Boyd believes the program is an amazing opportunity for students at the school. “I think students get a real college experience with the CAP program,” he said, “and you’re earning 15 credit hours a semester, and 60 credit hours in two years and graduating high school with an associates degree. That’s why I think that cap is a good program. It saves you time and money in the long run, and I think it prepares you for college.”
Hazel Shipley, 11, is one of the twenty juniors who are participating in their first semester of CAP. Like many of the others, she already enjoys the program. “It gives me a lot of opportunity for the future, and because it gets me out of the normal high school environment and lets me see more of the world, like going into the adult world,” she said. Shipley then pointed out what she believes to be the hardest part. “The hardest part is math, because math is hard,” She said. However, she then went on to explain some of the perks of CAP. “The work is, it’s like you don’t get like busy work,” Shipley said, “You don’t get a little homework that is due every day. You get bigger things that still take a lot of time to work on but they’re not due every class, and you get a schedule so that you know how much time you have between things.”
Melisa Grabic, 11, had slightly different opinions on the work. “[T]he hardest part is probably… in college it’s deadline after deadline after deadline, and sometimes it’s hard to like to keep up with that,” Grabic said, “you get a little backtracked, but the teachers are always there and willing to help you if you need it.” Overall though, CAP is still a program that she thinks is extremely beneficial. “I like that it gives me an opportunity to further my education while still in high school so that way I’ll be ahead of the game once I get to actual college,” she said. On top of this, Grabic pointed out the potential for students. “I think the best part of the program is how accessible it is to like anyone who tries hard enough can get into it, and anyone who has put some effort into their education previously can get into it.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity. You can get like an Associates degree and just get a head start through college,” Luke Joggerst, 11, said. “I’d like to go to either SLU or Baylor and go into pre-med, and I think this will help because it will take off a couple years of college.… I feel like it’s also great for scholarship opportunities,” he added. Overall though, Joggerst only thought of one main difficulty. “Just, doing the homework and mymathlab,” Joggerst said, talking about an online homework website, “Mymathlab is rough,”
Shipley and Grabic also participate an AP course at the school. So, when comparing the two they each felt that there were some other differences rather than location and pace. “I learn more from the college courses, and the AP class is more stressful. I like the longer class periods at college because, like short class periods, I didn’t think of our class periods as short until this year,” Shipley said, “and then I would get back to Fox and the bell would ring, and I would be like, ‘that’s the end of class?’”
Much like Shipley, Grabic agreed that “I would say that doing the college courses, it’s a lot less stressful than … the one singular AP course that I am taking, which is pretty wild,” Grabic said, “The workload specifically in my AP course, which is AP Computer Sciences. The course load is a lot heavier than my college classes, and the AP course here is more of a you have to teach yourself kind of thing. Whereas in college the teachers are always there and ready to help you.”
Maria Scopino pointed out a different aspect of the CAP and AP courses. “There’s no major difference. They are two courses that both have high rigor, and so the way I look at it, the AP courses and the CAP courses are going to get you to the same place. They’re both going to get you to college. So, the AP courses that are designed in the high school are supposed to be designed to have a rigor level that is higher than most, and the CAP courses are dual enrollment. That’s supposed to have a rigor level higher than most. So, to me, it’s a win-win whether you decide to do AP or CAP courses. It’s just whatever’s the right path for that kid,” Scopino said.
If you are a sophomore and both programs interest you, then Boyd recommends talking to students in each, to see firsthand what would most benefit you. “I would tell them to go talk to Cassidy Waigand, and Sydney Bauer, McGuire Hathaway and his older brother Jordan…. I would put them in touch with them and say ask them yourself,” Boyd said. “So, I would have them talk to CAP and then I would have them talk to AP students. I wonder if there are any AP students taking five AP classes. Then I would compare the two experiences… I could put them in touch with somebody to speak to.” In the end though, as Scopino said, it all comes down to “whatever’s the right path for that kid.”