NC’s renowned International Studies Magnet Program draws in talented students from across Cobb County: their students gain opportunities to immerse themselves in cultural learning experiences while studying at NC, and both they and the Magnet staff pride themselves on offering and enrolling in numerous challenging (AP Calculus, AP Environmental Science, and AP Lang).
Outside of the Magnet program, students of equal academic skills who chose not to enroll in the Magnet program do exist. Students who fit this bill can still perform at or above the level of Magnet students in rigorous classes, but do not always receive the opportunity to take certain classes outside of the Magnet program.
AP Human Geography, a college-level social studies class commonly taken by high school freshmen, proves this prejudice better than any other. As the most rigorous course taken by Magent students in their freshman year throughout Cobb County. At NC, AP Human lasts for the entire year and sees its students learn about the movement of people, diffusion of cultural ideas, and the expansion of political practices.
“An AP class requires students to think on a much higher level and use analytical and critical thinking skills, taking AP human allows students to develop these skills,” Magnet Coordinator and former AP Human Geography teacher James Auld said.
AP Human demands nightly reading, meticulous time management, and ample studying from its students. While all of the stress can cause difficulties, students usually find the class’s rewards worth the trouble. However, only magnet students regularly take the class at NC. Class sizes for those outside of the program remain too small to create a class only for them. So, a lower-level class fills with students who possess sufficient ability and desire to take AP Human Geography, but lack the opportunity. Forced to hide their academic dexterity in classes like Honors World Geography and Current Issues, both taught by NC teacherNishmin Porbandarwala, students placed into Honors World geography lose the opportunity to gain crucial college credit.
“I understand why AP Human is limited to magnet students; but, it would be nice if there was a portion offered for those students who are excelling as a non-magnet students,” Porbandarwala said.
While students enjoy the lighthearted nature of the class and Porbandarwala’s cordial attitude, they tend to become anxious over the missed opportunity and yearn for an opportunity to enrich their knowledge, especially as students they went to middle school with now take AP Human Geography in the Magnet program and at surrounding schools.
Every other school in Cobb County that offers the class does not limit it to students in a Magnet program, meaning the peers of those unable to enroll become ahead. Although one class may not prevent a student from enrollment in college, students who do not receive the opportunity at NC lose a potential college credit.
Taking AP classes in high school offers benefits that regular classes fail to provide.
AP classes possess the ability to raise one’s GPA more than an unweighted class, should students master the content. They also give students experience in college-level classes, something proven to increase chances of success in college. NC students not enrolled in the Magnet program suffer when prohibited to take AP Human Geography. These students fall behind classmates taking AP human in the Magnet program and at nearby schools, losing the ability to academically compete when it comes to college credits, GPA, and college applications.
This predicament causes Porbandarwala’s students to appear less desirable in the eyes of colleges and lowers their chances of becoming accepted into their dream universities. Unfortunately, this problem emerged, contradicting the original goal of implementing AP classes at NC.
“Our philosophy in AP is to have as many students take AP classes as we can; ultimately the more AP classes you take in high school the more likely you are to graduate from college,” AP World History teacher Jeffery Bettis said.
NC’s staff maintains this ideology fairly well and encourages upperclassmen to consider options to further their educational calling such as dual-enrollment and work-based learning. Both of these options remain available to all students. However, these opportunities fail to meet the rigor students yearn for in AP classes including AP Human. Non-Magnet students remain hopeful that AP Human Geography will soon become part of this concept, not its exception.