By Hannah Liu
All memes, including the featured image, were created by senior Ben Archer
I took AP US history with Dr. Ibokette last year, and I was an average student in that class. Almost, a year later, I thought I’d share my experience to potential APUSHers. Take my advice into consideration when you decide whether or not you want to take APUSH, but don’t let it be the be all end all as my perspective is just one of many. Ultimately, deciding whether or not to take APUSH or your schedule in general is not that big of a deal.
1.Taking an AP class will not necessarily make your college application look better
I’m going to cut to the chase here. The worst reason to sign up for APUSH is because it’s an AP class. In all fairness, if getting into your dream school is a concern, colleges would like to see that you are challenging yourself and that means taking challenging classes. But why put yourself through the ordeal of an AP class that you may not enjoy to please a college admissions officer. Plus, the college admissions process is not something to be gamed. Ultimately, if you don’t enjoy the class than you won’t do well, and that would look worse on your application than if you had an A in an ACP class.
2. Stand your ground even if your parents think they know better
Speaking from personal experience here, I actually wanted to take American Studies, but my parents made me take APUSH. You know yourself as a student better than anyone else, so my advice is to follow your gut feeling. At the end of the day, you’re the one who has to take the class.
3. You don’t have to LOVE history to do well in APUSH, You just have to be a good student
When it came time for my sophomore year teacher to pitch APUSH, he made it seem like students who took the class were major history nerds. That’s not true from my experience, but I do think that it should be that way. In order to succeed grade wise and enjoy the class, one has to be willing to spend several hours reading a dense textbook rather than going out with friends or watching Netflix. I think this is why so many kids find APUSH miserable at times. Don’t be that kid. The class is centered around preparing you for the AP exam in May, so it’s centered around learning to take the test.
4. The difficulty of the class is largely based on the teacher you get and what type of student you are
In contrast to your math class where the teachers are generally giving the same level classes the exact same homework every week, there’s almost no consistency in the history department, especially when it comes to APUSH. The teachers teach and grade their classes in entirely different ways. You might get a higher grade in one class because you just happened to get the right teacher and vice versa.
5.In the words of Dr. Ibokette, “Brinkley will be your best friend,” kind of
It’s more likely that Adam Norris will be your best friend, but you get the idea. There was one kid in my APUSH class who would read the textbook chapter the block before the test and still score above average. He’s not the only one. The world works in mysterious ways. But if you’re not that kid, Brinkley or Adam Norris will definitely occupy much of your time unless you want to flunk the class.
6. APUSH will make you a strong student, most senior year electives and classes like AP Pysch and AP Comparative Government and Politics will feel like a breeze (if you don’t slump)
This is probably the most debatable opinion that I’ll offer. However, I have the impression that APUSH was harder than most senior year history electives. I don’t want to compare with electives from different departments, since they’re entirely different subjects, but I have generally found that I’m a better student. I’m currently taking Middle East, Asia and Latin America and AP Comparative Government, so my perception of the other history electives comes from hearing about other people’s experiences.
7. The homework is entirely manageable if you’re the one kid who doesn’t procrastinate
Fight the urge to procrastinate. Just don’t do it.
8. Pray to the Scheduling Gods that you don’t get Dr. Ibokette
Dr. Ibokette recently gave a presentation on Nigeria in my AP Comparative Government and Politics class, and it may as well have been a Stand-up comedy show. His solution to ending corruption in Nigeria was to eliminate all Nigerians over the age of five. I could elaborate, but it’s a long story. The point is this guy is hilarious and incredibly knowledgeable, but don’t be fooled because as an APUSH teacher he is ruthless. There are always the kids who just get the material, but for the vast majority of kids, APUSH will be an emotional and intellectual roller coaster that didn’t have to happen.
9. The Junior Thesis
The junior thesis requirement is several pages longer for APUSH students. The exact numbers vary by class.
Do I regret taking APUSH?
If it isn’t clear, I have an unfavorable perception of APUSH. I’ve never had an affinity for history, and I probably should have went along with the recommendation of my sophomore year history teacher, not that taking APUSH was my choice in the first place. I have heard that ACP history is significantly easier, so there’s really no in between which would make picking a junior year history class easier. Even if I wasn’t particularly good at that class, the academic benefits are undeniable. The older you get the more you realize, some things you just have to get out of the way to get what you want. APUSH had its pros and cons, but generally speaking, I think the sleepless nights and hours of textbook reading I had to endure might have been worth it. It’s still a little unclear what meaningful contribution APUSH has made to my life, but it definitely made me a better student.
*If you’re interested in hearing perspectives from former students about other classes at North, email firstname.lastname@example.org for a request. If you would like to share your own perspective of taking a class, submit a draft to the same email.