Rant Brought to You by California State of Emergency

A blogger friend recently contacted a group of us to discuss the dire situation in our schools due to more budget cuts looming on the horizon.  Those cuts include reducing the number of school days by yet another week.  

I heard that collective woot! from students thinking that less school and more vacation is possible.  However, a shorter school year will affect them at every grade level.  I have a child in high school, and a shorter school year means something entirely different for her. 

Read on and to get the eyefull rant…


I'm very upset my barely-sixteen-year-old went to bed at 1 AM studying for what she's been told is THE only way to get into a good college.  She drank the “college of choice” Kool-Aid handed to her by her teachers and our education system.

Her sacrifices include the whole family.  It was our anniversary the night before the National AP test she was taking this week, so we had to adjust our time to support her; we made a nutritious dinner at home instead of going out, we quizzed her on some of the topics instead of watching a movie or reminiscing about our twenty-one-year-marriage, did flashcards with her (I know, so elementary school) until we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer (for us that was 11 PM).  She had the added stress of a softball game immediately after the three-hour test — pre-scheduled by the high school (how considerate!).

As you might know, this was National AP test-taking week.  If you have a sophomore through a senior in high school, you are likely familiar with these Advance Placement courses at your teenagers school, and you're also probably aware of their purpose: to challenge students to work at a higher level in their pursuit of acceptance to a college of their choice. (<–Ha, what a joke!)

That's right.  Starting sophomore year in high school, when the majority of students are 15-16 years old, they have to take the option of taking college-level courses in high school so they seem better-prepared college candidates when the time comes to apply to institutions of higher learning.

Courses range from AP Art to AP Latin and AP Physics.  According to the College Board this is what you can expect from an AP course:

“Are you ready for a unique learning experience that will help you succeed in college? Through AP's college-level courses and exams, you can earn college credit and advanced placement, stand out in the admission process, and learn from some of the most skilled, dedicated, and inspiring teachers in the world.

A Different Kind of Class

From the moment you enter an AP classroom, you'll notice the difference—in the teacher's approach to the subject, in the attitude of your classmates, in the way you start to think. In AP classrooms, the focus is not on memorizing facts and figures. Instead you'll engage in intense discussions, solve problems collaboratively, and learn to write clearly and persuasively.

Prepare to Succeed in College

AP courses can help you acquire the skills and habits you'll need to be successful in college. You'll improve your writing skills, sharpen your problem-solving abilities, and develop time management skills, discipline, and study habits.

Earn College Credit and Placement

More than 90 percent of four-year colleges in the United States and colleges in more than 60 other countries give students credit, advanced placement or both on the basis of AP Exam scores. By entering college with AP credits, you'll have the time to move into upper level courses, pursue a double-major or study abroad.”

Wow! This sounds like the dream classes I wish I had been offered when I went to high school.  

But they aren't.

These ARE the classes that were offered when I went to college!

I took most of the AP courses offered at the high school level when I was already in college … as an 18 year old!

Do you see anything wrong with this scenario?

Well, I wouldn't be writing about this if I didn't.

But, I'm going to skip the part about the admissions process getting ridiculously competitive because there aren't enough 'good' schools for all the bright students taking these tough college-level courses in high school to go around.

I'm also going to skip the part where the numbers tell you that there are roughly 4,000,000 high school grads this year, and there are 4,000 colleges across the country which means plenty of seats are available so that there's a college for everyone.

If this is a real statistic, then why are the same colleges receiving approximately 35,000 applications each (along with the $75 per application fee) per year?

You guessed it.  This is the part I am going to write about.

There are a huge number of students who've busted their butts taking APs, sleeping less, sacrificing time with their families, community involvement, spiritual nourishment and some even their health, and who have been sold a bill of goods.

They've been brainwashed into thinking that all of this sacrifice is the only road to college. 

However, where's the statistic that shows that in spite of these students working hard, earning good grades (not above a 4.0), likely had average to above average SAT scores (not perfect scores), they ended up at some Podunk college in the middle of God-Knows-Where because they had to settle when only 1,200 spots are open at the same old 'good' schools?

Was this their goal?  Probably not.  But in the meantime teenager's youth has been squandered, their morale trampled by both the education system and coaches, and are plain burnt out err, weeded out!

Making matters worse is the news out of our state capitol, Sacramento, that Governor Brown wants to cut the school year even shorter to save money. 

Has Governor Brown been in an AP class lately? I think his head would be spinning if he was 15 years old and had the last 5,000 years of history rammed down his throat in less time than his predecessor fellow students did, and then had to spew it all out in a single test to see if:

1) He could get a 5 and then MAYBE get college credit. Oh, I forgot to mention that the carrot that's dangled to students is that supposedly if you pass the AP test with a 5 you MIGHT get some credits to start off your college 'experience'.  What colleges don't tell you is that THEY decide if they’ll do this or not.

2) If he takes AP courses his transcript will look better because he gets an extra point for taking the class, which is how he could end up with a 4.+ GPA.  (Another fallacy because most 'good' universities strip these points from your final grades and looks at the students' un-weighted grades.) 

Bottom line, he looks like a potentially great college candidate if he took AP courses, but not so good if he didn't get an A in the class, which if he did, it doesn't count because though his GPA is a 4.1 with the AP extra point, college admissions at the 'good' schools erases a year's worth of life work to bring it back to a 4.0. (Hey, but you showed them you could handle the workload and stress at 16 so that when you hit college at 18 you can do more of the same.)

3) If he doesn’t get a 5 on the test nor an A in the AP class, well at least the rigor of his classes look great on his transcript.  However, if he got a B (which is really an A, but not really), he might have a chance at getting looked at by one the 'good' colleges if the rest of his application is worthy.

4) That's right, the rest of the college application has to be nice and solid with academic achievements, awards, clubs, community service — complete with a 501 (c) 3 Federal Tax ID number — travel abroad, sports accolades, etc.

And then, the kid still has to go to high school and live through the wicked social scene that reigns supreme in the socially negated culture we've come to learn to survive in. (Separate blog post, I know.)

So congratulations to you, high school AP exam-takers!  This year-long anticipated week of national AP testing is over. 

Now, let’s wait and see if our state government will give you fewer days to cram all this school-work into over the next school year.

In the meantime, hug your parents and go get some much-needed sleep … and dream about your college of choice.  

If you’d like to do something about this, you can attend a rally being in held in San Diego TODAY.


  1. Anonymous says:

    So much to say about all of this. But I think I'll just post a quote from Andrew Ferguson's new book about the college admissions process: “Crazy U.”
    “…We [Americans] suffer from a built-in confusion of means and ends. We want college (the means) to produce results (the ends) that it wasn't built for… It wasn't designed to do what most Americans want it to do: set their kids up to get a good job. If the end we seek is the acquisition of marketable skills, there are much speedier means of doing this than a four-year education in the liberal arts.”
    I think parents need to be honest about why they want their kids to attend college. And as a society we need to figure out if the means do indeed justify the ends.
    Imagination and creativity are being sacrificed in the name of “getting ahead.” As is learning simply for the joy of learning. But who is really getting ahead? The over-scheduled kid who is burned out by the time he or she reaches college age?
    Not sure any of this makes sense, but it is what came to mind when I read your post, so I thought I'd share.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Jennifer, You get it! The quote backs up exactly what my complaint is refering to. The result we expect Harvard- educated kids will have are huge, wide open doors to six-figure salaries from the get go.
    What we should know better is that while this is true for many highly educated kids, the means to this end is not a one-size-fits-all education system, and that's what is happening with our teenager's high school edudcation.
    “If they're not in certain AP and Honors classes in high school, then they are with the dumb kids,” have you heard this one?
    There's much work to be done when there's not enough 'good' schools to take all these kids who are being fed the AP diet full of empty “selective” college dreams.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.