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Why I took 6 AP Classes

Johanna Guerrero, Editor-in-Chief

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I could count so many days by the chapters of a textbook, a novel, and a fixed number of math problems to do in an hour ー followed by five or less hours of sleep.

 

I went into senior year wanting to take six AP classes to show my academic dedication and to become a more deeply passionate learner. When I took four AP classes junior year I didn’t handle it very well because of too much outside stress. After a year like that where I had so many panic attacks one might wonder why I decided taking more AP classes was a good idea. I felt like junior year wasn’t a fair chance for me to show what I was really academically capable. Senior year was ripe for my redemption. I knew I would struggle immensely. I knew it would in no way be easy. However, I felt really good going into senior year in having the strongest start I’d ever had of any of my school years.

 

I felt anxious that first semester. You can’t expect anyone to really go into something so intense without some stress. Few people go ahead on making a decision like taking six AP classes, much less think about taking that many. This year was like ‘hey, I’m going to have all these stressful things and I know that I will, so I’m going to work really hard.’

 

For most days this year I went to bed at midnight and woke up at four or six. In junior year I didn’t need to keep track of my time as closely. Going into senior year I started writing schedules for myself everyday. With all the assignments I needed to keep up with, my time and plans centered around when I studied.

 

Cramming work every day is hard. There was always work to do. Even when taking just 4 AP classes junior year I was busy but I still had wiggle room. In senior year, waiting for teachers to assign me work or having new assignments sprung up and due within the day was what made time management difficult. Teachers who gave syllabuses/monthly outlines of assignments helped me to work ahead and saved time later. Try working on something the day before its due date with six massive assignments to always tackle. When a new assignment came up I had less time to work on it while trying to work-crunch other homework right before a due date.

 

With AP classes, I had a test every week; multiply that by the number of AP classes I’m taking and that’s multiple tests per week to keep a pin on, repeated every week or every other week. Some Fridays I had up to 4 tests, never less than one: FRQs every block day, chapter tests every week, unit tests every month.

 

Weekdays were landlocked by homework. The weekend? Sweet escape. I had assignments to catch up on for the following week, but during the weekend, my time belonged to me. At home all time was free-reign for however I needed to work. I might be up until 1 A.M. working on something, but did I have to wake up at 5 the next day? No. Maybe I wanted to go to bed at 9 P.M. and then work in the morning. I could stop my notes and math problems mid-word, mid-equation to brew some tea, hang out with my dog, or bug my mom about what she’s up to. On my own time I am an amazing powerhouse. However, fitting the workload into the same eight hours every afternoon became difficult to maintain stamina-wise. The weekends were golden: getting work done, jamming to my tunes, and sleeping. I couldn’t completely slack off though, or thus I’d suffer the consequences of once more having to cram that later-due work on a Monday with the accelerating train of assignments assigned.

 

 

Most of the time whatever I crammed while I jammed out to music on the weekends was meant to free up time during the week for pop-up assignments or whatever other thing I had to do. Clubs? Drumset? The newspaper? All the things. Time to relax? (Hah).

 

Prioritize that. Everyone needs some downtime, so I still procrastinated too. Some days were too much. I let myself rest however I needed to but what kept me going was the ongoing pace of my workload.

 

To avoid having to cram piles of homework before due dates, I worked on whatever I could ahead of time: three chapters of notes per week instead of one, reading entire novels in a day or two, writing my notes weeks before they were assigned, and filling out content guides as if the due date burned that same week. I wish I could say this method worked perfectly. It canーdoing work ahead of time is never a bad ideaーbut I hadn’t figured out how to really stay on top of my work until second semester.

 

Now, I know that I can do this giant load of work, put in all this time and energy, and manage my anxiety and other things decently well. All these things about being anxiousーthat I would egg onto myself and other people would egg on to meーthese things would make everything harder. In junior year I struggled with overcoming a lot of my anxiety issues. I hadn’t known prior that I had problems with anxiety. I never really had a need to take control of my time because all of my earlier school years were not as intense as the workloads and time constraints I faced in high school. Going into junior year changed all of that as I needed to take more time for myself and realized that I couldn’t do that.

 

I had never known that it was a concern for me and there was really nothing driving me to take risks for the radical self-improvement I was looking for. Going into AP classes was one way for me to do that by taking my education seriously and challenging myself. The hard part was everything else around it. Everything else was challenging in a way I couldn’t handle. My family relationships, friendships, etc. all seemed to be turning dramatically volatile in the way those kind of things seem to do during high school. I struggled with weekly panic attacks in the midst of all these sudden changes and stresses in my life, which whispered smoke into the start of my senior year.

 

The fights I had with my parents and the pressures I felt from my friends from being in the middle of friend-drama, added with the pressure of teacher-expectations to be a good student and wanting to be a good student at a high-ranked school like A-TECH had begun to build up. It became hard to focus on what I wanted to enjoy, or really carve a space for myself to show my work. This was when I took it to the extreme.

 

 

I figured I was not going to let other people make it hard for me. I will make it hard for myself and I am going to deal with myself as I go through it. If things are going to be hard then I want it to be hard because I made it that wayーI chose it.

 

When you can take something, anything, and make it your struggle, you learn from it. You learn to work with it (put the thing down, flip it, and reverse it). You make it something of your own. Going through this school year with six AP classes doesn’t give me a lot of room for fluff but that’s only all the more incentive to work proactively in not just my classwork, but in other parts of my life too.

 

From what I’ve learned this school year, I don’t think I ever want to have this much work again. However, I know that I can definitely work a lot and I could put in this much work and effort into interests that I can be really dedicated to.

 

I learned very intimately about my strengths and weaknesses. I came into struggles that were more than academic. I still kept up hobbies and some time with friends and family. This year has shown me the very real struggles of time management and shown me the value of time.

 

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