AP and helping others

Gina Berardesco gbe392 at merle.acns.nwu.edu
Wed Dec 3 17:24:15 EST 1997

S L Forsburg (forsburg at nospamsalk.edu) wrote:
> > how quickly they went, how hard it was for me to keep up, and from the
> > pressure and competition. 

> I never felt pressure or competition in high school.  Senior year, 
> I took three APs, in the morning, and spent my afternoons on the UC
>  Berkeley campus taking college classes in an accelerated program 
> that gave early entry to students.  It was a great year, and I
> just enjoyed its intellectualism.  The AP classes meant that 
> when I started in college full time the following year, I didnt
> have to take Biology, History, or freshman English--in fact I never
> took a lower division English class (and majored in the subject
> to boot!) APs were a great success at that time.

This has been a very interesting thread for me. I have to admit as a high
school student I was marginally above average, and I took very few (ok, 2)
science courses. I did take some honors level math courses, though. I went
to a very small high school that didn't have much to offer in the way of
advanced classes. And I wasn't interested in taking science courses anyways,
although I did like science. 

When I got to college and started taking 'real' science courses, I found
them very difficult and tedious. It was only in my junior year that I began
to enjoy them (the more specialized topics ) and excel in them. Luckily I
had an undergraduate advisor who was wonderful, and encouraged me to do
research in his lab. It wasn't until my senior year that I decided I wanted
to go to graduate school, and it was definitely due to my undergrad advisor. 
I'm now doing a post-doc and I'm quite happy with my decision to be a

On the other hand, my spouse did well in high school and college, and since
he was recognized as being 'bright' early on, was always encouraged to
pursue science as a career. He also did quite well in the humanities but as
far as I know was never encouraged to pursue a career related to that, like
writing or journalism. And I think he would have been much happier if he
had, since he became quite disillusioned with science and is now trying to
change careers.  

So actually I'm not quite sure what my point here is, except that maybe
bright students who perform well at the grade school level can be pressured
into pursuing careers (by well-meaning people) that aren't always right for
them. Has anyone observed this?


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