Students focus on weighted classes for GPA

By Emily Beuter — In order to win the game one must stay in the game. The game is not a sports game but strategy and skills are still key components. It is just as competitive as any (big rival) sports game. The “game” is the GPA race.

“I wish I didn’t have to play the game but I have to play the game in order to stay up,” junior Anna Grunder said.

Grunder explains the “game” starts when people become aware of their rank. The game consists of taking all advanced placements (AP) and or honors classes to boost up one’s GPA since those classes are weighted. The higher the GPA, the higher one’s rank will be.

“I sat down and figured out what my GPA would be if I take certain classes. I calculated it all out,” junior Anna Grunder said.

However Grunder admits that even if the classes were not weighted she would still take them; she enjoys the challenge and she feels she should be in classes that move at a faster pace.

Grunder is just one of many students who participates in the game. These students take some of the most rigorous courses offered and often hold high ranks in their class. Many students though are not willing to admit to doing this and often even feel bad about it.

“I don’t want to sound heartless,” junior Kyle Monnot said. “I feel like arts classes will lower my GPA, but I’m also not very artsy. I’m thinking about dentistry for my future. I’m willing to do all the hard work for AP courses.”

Monnot is correct about the amount of work AP classes require. Counselor Gayle Kimbrough cautions students about taking a lot of AP classes. She advises that students must know what they are capable of.

“Every year I have these really fantastic students in here stressed out because they have a full schedule of AP classes and they just can’t handle it all,” Kimbrough said.

Other students such as junior Cody Popovich agree with Kimbrough.

“I know plenty of people who take classes just so they can have a high GPA.I think they’re stressing themselves out too much,” Popovich said.

Popovich himself does not participate in the “game”. He dropped AP English this year because what he is looking for as a major in college does not require the AP English class. Next year he plans on taking a lot of AP science classes.

“I’m just taking what I need for my college curriculum and what will help me out in college,” Popovich said. “I don’t feel like I need all the AP classes. I think it comes more down to the classes that you have. Colleges are going to look to see if you have more knowledge into that area rather than all these AP classes.”

Popovich is not the only student who is career minded. Junior Alyssa Novak wants to get good grades but also focuses on her future. Novak takes band, jazz band and music theory because that is what she wants to do in her future.

GPA, rank and future careers are all driving factors of taking AP and Honors classes, but it is not the only factor. Other students such as seniors Vanessa Chen, Matt Haynam and Ashlee Wertz take the demanding classes for the challenge. Chen also takes the classes because her friends are in them. Chen and Wertz both say these classes have a higher level of thinking which they both enjoy.

“AP is at the level which our minds think at and it’s so hard to work beneath that level,” Chen said.

No matter what level one thinks at there are a variety of reasons to take AP and honors classes. Not only as a counselor, but as a parent and educator Gayle Kimbrough questions whether it’s worth to sacrifice a lot of personal happiness for the sake of doing all of this rigorous academic work. Although in the end, Kimbrough knows that it depends on the students’ goals and personal motivations.

Kimbrough offers advice to find balance between school, jobs, a social life and extra-curricular activities.

“A grown up sort of life skill is to be able to figure out what you can and can’t do well,” Kimbrough said.

[Updated Aug. 7, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]