Challenging classes offer big rewards

Students, parents ponder advanced coursework


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Students who take Advanced Placement classes often graduate early or spend their senior years taking college classes, according to Marty Lang, Eagle River High principal.

Lang spoke to a group of about 35 parents and students at the Advanced Placement Information Night on Jan. 28 at the high school library.

AP classes are college-level curriculums geared to a high school environment.

Designed for the student ready for a challenge but not yet ready for the college environment, AP courses provide solid college preparation while signaling rigorous coursework familiarity to college admission boards.

“I hear from students all the time about wanting to get into a good college. I try to shift that over and gear them toward being more successful once they arrive,” Lang said.

Each AP class offers a corresponding AP exam, which students sit for each May.

The average exam takes two to three hours.

Colleges set individual AP exam result criteria, with a score of three to five being the standard.

AP exam results can be substituted for general requirement and beginning level courses at many colleges.

“I’ve had students come back and tell me that they earned so many credits through AP exams that they came in (to college) as a sophomore or were sophomores at the end of the first semester,” Lang said.

According to ERHS AP instructor Kathy Campbell, AP courses shouldn’t be viewed as optional for college geared students.

Instead, they should be seen as a necessity.

“I can’t imagine sending a student to the university systems without taking an AP course,” she said.

 

Why they study

After the AP informational talk, students and parents mingled with instructors at various stations set up around the school’s library.

Ryan Casey, ERHS sophomore, is taking AP history and biology. He’s found that the classes require a lot of studying and memorization.

“It comes down to being committed,” he said.

Casey spends up to five hours a night on homework. He plans on taking three AP courses next semester.

“It’s not always fun, but I know it will work for my advantage in the long run,” he said.

Kerhyl Lettman is an ERHS freshman currently taking honors classes.

“I hold straight A’s in all of my classes and they don’t require as much of a challenge as I’d like,” she said.

She’s interested in taking AP chemistry and world history next year.

Lettman currently spends about an hour and a half on homework a night. She expects that will double with AP classes.

“I love coming to school,” she said. “I like doing homework.”

Her mother, Linda Lettman, supports her choice of AP courses.

“She’s got a fair judgment of what she can do, and university won’t be such a shock to her system,” she said.

Freshman Thomas Midlo plans on taking AP world history. He’s ready for the extra work, too.

“I have the time,” he said. “I know it will really help me out in the long run.”

 

Contact Star reporter Cinthia Ritchie at 694-2727 or cinthia.ritchie@alaskastar.com.

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