Staff Editorial – 1/15

New AP class exaggerates pressure on GPA

To a gumball machine, the 0.03 in your pocket is useless, but to a transcript, it is invaluable.

Those pennies are the difference between a 2.5 and a 2.53, a 3.72 and a 3.75, a 4.0 and a 4.03.

We all accept that these numbers are as tangential to our future well-being as is healthy cholesterol and subsequent lack of heart attacks. For the typical student, however, it takes a year or two to wise up and plunge into the glorious Thursday night that is prepping for nine and a half tests, three timed writings and one surprise nap in fourth bell.

But The Class of 2019 is the first to have had the invaluable opportunity to schedule this joy from its middle school desks.

Introducing Advanced Placement Human Geography—or the AP class for freshmen.

Finally, acne-splattered preteens can redeem  Level I schedules with College Board rigor, ignoring that they’ve never heard of human geography, let alone had an inkling of whether or not it would interest them.

Little do they know, it’s just the beginning. It’s just the beginning of late nights, early mornings, headaches, canceled plans, and the occasional breakdown from stress as they try to fit in as an elite Mason student, piling up on the APs and snatching up the priceless 0.03.

All eyes are on the top slot, even if number one and number 987 in each class receive the same manilla paper, regardless of how many 0.03 pennies each possess.

Middle of the pack just won’t do it for competitors, even if number 295 would be valedictorian in another district. Those who “only” take one honors class are seen as inferior, far behind in the race, tripping over a root. We are here to whittle our youth away in favor of panic attacks and not-too-borderline depression.

While we count our blessings in the opportunities that we have, we hope that students realize the importance of self-care and a social life in the midst of high school. We hope a senior will take a fun elective rather than a fourth or fifth honors class simply to get them up to a 5.0. Maybe we are just overly obsessed with getting a jump-start on our future. Maybe it’s time to slow down. Maybe it’s time to take some pressure off, and not be so quick to judge our friends who take less honors and AP classes—in some ways, they might be winning.

Freshmen are rushing to take the new AP, and we just hope that they do it for the right reason.

Because after high school, we will see a lot more gumball machines than transcripts.