EDITORIAL: GPA Exemption Should Be Extended

District rules encourage stocking up on AP classes, slowly killing 4.0 electives

Neelam Bohra and Udani Satarasinghe

The current Academic Planning Guide forces students to choose between rank and taking classes they’re actually interested in. Should we rack up on AP classes like the district encourages us, or take core electives that fulfill our passions and allow us to explore new fields?

No class should hurt our GPA, and respectively GPA should not prevent us from taking a certain class. High school shouldn’t be about taking as many AP classes as possible, but it is the only way to keep a top rank.

As a first step to fix this rising issue, the district should adjust the APG so students can attain GPA exemption for second year electives.

Whether it be newspaper or aviation, a plan to do something two years in a row (half of high school) should count as enough dedication to be GPA exempt.

High school allows us to take 6-7 AP classes, whereas in actuality, college only allows for so many credit hours. As high school students, we are expected to take more hours than a freshman in college. Obviously, there should be compensation in the rigor of classes.

Also, junior year matters immensely when it comes to rank and GPA. Students who want to remain at the top of their class cannot afford to take a 4.0 elective. So, instead of being able to explore future career interests, we have to take another AP class to stay afloat.

Even from a short-term perspective, colleges ask students to be well rounded, but will automatically accept people based on rank. We are expected to be in the top 10%, but we have to participate in multiple other things to show we do more than just academics. As high school students, we are pulled in a million different directions, and basic needs like sleep and mental health are forgotten in the constant race to make ourselves valuable. The first step in fixing this would be to consolidate the chase for rank and skills—to put exploring careers and having a good rank together.

Truly, it is a struggle between our futures and the way school merits our efforts now.

We should be able to have valedictorians who play sports and participate in extracurricular activities—students in the top ten percent who do more than just school—instead of valedictorians who get no scholarship offers or special treatment because they didn’t expand beyond school.

All three campuses offer so many great classes that help with future career specialization, but students can’t explore them as most of them are weighted 4.0. Students don’t even know half of these classes exist. It shows the emphasis of GPA and racking up on AP classes. With every incoming generations, the pressure placed on taking these classes deepens. Soon, classes like Yearbook and Debate may not even exist as not enough students sign up to fulfill the required class size.

On top of this, most of the classes losing out are English and humanities based. Why are classes like engineering and robotics offered Pre-AP, some even AP, credit? Does the district favor STEM endorsements more than Humanities endorsements? What factors decide whether a class is GPA exempt or not? Certain classes require at least 2 years of prior enrollment for exemption, whereas PALS I and II are exempt junior and senior year.

If something about the system doesn’t change now, there are going to be great repercussions. The muddle of rules needs to be cleared.

We’re not asking certain electives to reap extra rewards, but they shouldn’t be penalized either. As the race for GPA continues, there should be an even playing field.