Academic elitism: You’re not stupid, you’re just learning


Tim Gouw

Students struggle with motivation as they are kept out of opportunities and unable to strive for success.

Itziar Carrasco Gomez, Staff Writer

Academic Elitism is an issue that continues to spread throughout the halls of schools, harming students all over America. The subdivision of the student body according to the level of their academics (AP, honors, academic) has clipped the wings of many students, leaving them unable to advance. 

AP and honors kids are often complimented on their “commitment” and “drive,” with a heavy emphasis on their work ethic. However, the aspect of being busy and a so-called productive student is glorified, promoting the belief that academic level students are less capable and less promising. 

While the stereotypical AP student may have a superior work ethic, their health is often declining. Many are up until early morning hours completing heaps of coursework, often just wanting to get through it instead of valuing what they are reading. While their drive is excellent, one must be left to wonder just how much understanding and true learning can be done in one exhaustively sleepless night.

Often, academic level courses have much less work, and are generally looked down upon by AP and honors students. The lack of assignments in these classes do not make them easier, just less work inducive, leading people to believe that being an academic student equates to slacking off.

Academic students are considered lesser than AP or honors level students for the lack of work they do, however, most people fail to realize that productivity is not inherently cohesive to learning– understanding is. Academic students have more time to interact with the content, therefore they tend to develop a deeper understanding of the material.

These courses promote quality of learning over quantity, whereas higher level courses offer less interaction with the content- often limited to note-taking from a textbook. 

When people compliment AP and honors level students, they often compliment the mass amount of work they pump out daily. The need to get through stacks of work limits the amount of time needed to interact with content, ask questions or even attempt to understand the content rather than just memorizing lessons.  

The deprivation of opportunities for academic level kids is often blamed on laziness or inability to keep up, and the constant cut off from peers leads certain students to believe that they are inherently unable to take higher level courses. This leaves academic students to plateau at a certain level instead of striving for better. Schools unknowingly deprive students in lower level courses of opportunities by making surface level judgments.

Colleges often look down at academic courses and dismiss students due to the amount of academic courses they take instead of APs, without any regard for the amount of learning the student has done or the grade in the class itself. Academic students being kept out of AP courses due to shame and confusion actively impacts the colleges they can get into and their inherent value as a student. By making AP, honors, and academic conclusive to a student’s academic worth in school, kids are constantly left out of their dream colleges, which can hinder both their confidence and motivation to keep on learning.

The inability to keep up with class due to limited interaction has led most academic level students to be left behind by the education system.  It directly profits off of their inability to advance, being used as an example of what not to be by other students. Kids in academic courses are now suffering the consequences of this system based on productivity, with most of them sitting silently in courses and feeling ashamed to ask questions. 

It is critical to promote a more cohesive learning environment. Schools need to  change academic surroundings and draw the line between students truly not trying and students being left out of opportunities which could actively make or break their future.