The Fallacy of AP Culture


Photo by Cory Doctorow (Flickr)


Let’s all take a moment to contemplate our lives and think about the copious number of AP’s many of us take. AP’s, by definition, are college level classes and college is essentially the academic version of hell on earth. It’s no secret that college entails the hardest years of our student lives, so doesn’t it seem foolhardy to dive headfirst into an intellectual purgatory? Frankly, I don’t think we are doing ourselves any favors.

I’m not saying to stop taking AP’s; if you wish to enrich your mind, then by all means, go ahead. There is absolutely no problem with that. However, we high school students fail to see the strings attached in our blind pursuit to impress colleges with all fifty APs we are taking. We have all failed to read the Terms and Conditions sheet covertly embedded into every AP we take and instead waive away our time, dedication, and even part of our livelihoods with a simple nod and signature at the bottom of the paper.

This is where AP culture falls apart. In exchange for an infinitesimal advantage in the future, we accept a marginally poorer present day. We sacrifice our most valuable assets: our time and well-being. Most days start out the same way: at 12AM. It may not seem like it in the beginning of the school year, but eventually our commitment to these classes will force us to spend more and more of our mornings around midnight rather than when school starts. Technically speaking, teenagers are supposed to get eight to ten hours of sleep a night, but it becomes impossible for most. This results in the typical sleep-deprived high school student, a common staple of any AP class.

And so, our day begins with frantically finishing work while simultaneously calculating how many hours of sleep we can get. Then, after nightly rituals like showering and brushing our teeth, we promptly pass out on our beds, sometimes with school things still scattered on it, and we take a quick, few hour nap. Now, the school day begins with the brutish, yet necessary, twenty alarms it takes to wake up, because the willpower needed to endure another day of yesterday is simply nonexistent. Subsequently, we resort to the miraculous revival properties of caffeine in order to jump-start our day (and later depress it) and actually get to class on time.

If and when we get to first period, it is not uncommon to see twenty or so sets of dead fish eyes illuminated only by the blue light of our phones rather than the spark of life. We are essentially hollow, miserable automatons, devoid of all traces of consciousness around the time Dr. Feeney tells us to make it a great day or not. As the sun continues to climb in the sky, our faces lighten up a little, and we begin to wake up around lunch, for those of us who are lucky enough to have one. For the rest of us, well, tough luck.

Finally, once school ends and we get home, regardless of how hard-working a person is or claims to be, we drop our bags and do absolutely nothing. I personally like to lay down on the couch, staring absentmindedly at the ceiling while my subconscious screams at me to work. It doesn’t matter how much work we have or what time we get home, it is indisputable that we all have a procrastination block. Most likely, when our phone batteries drop below twenty percent and we begin to work, the sun is just over the horizon and the day has slipped through our fingers. Thus the vicious cycle begins anew.

Our only solace is the weekend, a designated time for enjoying the precious few years we have before adulthood. Saturdays and Sundays are the only days we can even dream about sleeping in and living out our adolescence in an effort to create something meaningful. If only more days could be like this, except they could have been. We all could have been rejoicing in the mirth of our teenage years rather than spending them in front of laptop screens and textbooks. But, we have no right to regret our decisions or complain. We readily agreed to sacrificing four years in the pursuit of adulthood. We cannot undo our actions over the past few years but what we can do is finally understand what we have lost and salvage what little time we have left before we are officially ushered into an even crueler and more unforgiving world.

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