On Academic Curiosity

As Advanced Placement (AP) tests approach in the next two weeks, students slump under the stress and inanity of standardized testing. But this testing is irrelevant in comparison to the joy of learning and the importance of inspiring academic curiosity. When students consider their schedules for next year, they and their advisers should emphasize learning what the student wants to, not what college admissions command. Focus on the subjects you enjoy the most, and forget college. In a prime example of the conflict between increased academic freedom and college requirements, the faculty are voting this month on a proposal to eliminate the “guidelines” for academic course selection found in the Course of Study. Unfortunately, this academic flexibility, promised by Andover’s Strategic Plan, runs smack into college admissions diktats. We bemoan college admission pressures so often because they overwhelmingly affect the Andover experience. We predict (and hope) that it is only a matter of time before something changes. Our peer group of prep schools could decide to discourage—or not offer—the SAT. State schools, already growing, could offer more serious competition to the Ivy League. Right now, students could choose to take courses they enjoy rather than take the AP brand name. AP’s may be what colleges want, but being true to one’s passions is what matters in the long run.