Why people are pushing away from APUSH

Sabrina Suen, Staff Writer

In the past few years, Liberty has welcomed a plethora of new AP classes. Be it AP Chemistry, AP World History, or AP Human Geography, administrators and students alike have been scrambling to keep up with the fast growing demand for college level courses. Yet, despite the academic world’s push for students to take APs, some courses now face a steep decline in student sign up. AP U.S. history is an example of this phenomenon. APUSH, a class that once filled two full sections, only has about 20 people signed up this year.
“When I started teaching here I was the only AP 11th grade course offered. I started in 2003 and then we added AP Lang, and that had some fall off. I used to have three classes, three full classes and then I’ve noticed this whole push for STEM has increased the number of science and math AP courses that have taken kids into that direction,” APUSH teacher Steve Darnell said.
This tapering of APUSH students has come as a surprise to some teachers, who expected last year’s addition of AP World to stimulate interest in the class.
“We talked about it behind the scenes. We anticipated that it might encourage them to take more on because they knew what they were getting into,” Darnell said.
Others attribute the homework load of AP World to have deterred students from pursuing further AP history classes.
“Although I got a 5 on the AP World exam, I feel like my mental health couldn’t handle the intense work load required for APUSH,” junior Kaitlyn Dybing said.
Another aspect of the issue is that students are choosing to delegate and balance their schedules to focus on subjects they are truly interested in.
“This year not taking APUSH was because I’m taking Art 3 which piles on homework really fast. I didn’t have enough time to do homework and get enough sleep and be sane,” junior Nicole Leung said.
But workload is only one aspect of the problem. Other students were forced to choose between taking APUSH and one of the advanced music classes such as Jazz Band and Chamber Strings which happen to be on the same period.
On top of that, in recent years, counselors have been hesitant to push APs in fear of placing too much stress upon students.
“I think that counselors are sensitive to the emotional overload that the students they interact with communicate to them. I don’t know that that reflects the majority of the student population that might be thriving. I don’t know that they see that side of things as much because of their role,” Darnell said.
But despite all of these factors, Darnell is hopeful that next year will bring in a renewed wave of students.
“I will make a more concerted effort to do what I used to do back in the day, which is go and visit the classes, and let them hear what the reality of the course is like and how it could be beneficial to them,” Darnell said.
And regardless of the recent drop in APUSH takers, past students continue to express that the class brings a worthy challenge.
“APUSH can be really challenging and time consuming but it really pushes you to become a better thinker, a better researcher, a better writer…and it’s interesting to delve so deep into history topics and look at things from new perspectives,” senior Paige Hopkins said.