A typical freshman entering high school is nervous, disoriented and confused. Although they have gotten used to the heavily structured schedule of middle school, the new freedoms of high school leave them bewildered. Most of these freshmen are busy transitioning into their new environment, but Kayleigh Huk is not most freshman. Rather than take her time to adjust, Huk swan-dived into the ocean of high school, and with it, furthering her dreams. Huk registered online to take Advanced Placement Chemistry during her first year of high school.
Often regarded as the most challenging science course at Woodland, Chemistry is infamous. When brought up in conversation, the course is regarded with a sigh and a sympathetic “good luck,” for every student knows that Chem has a reputation for being rigorous and confusing. If Chem is considered a terror for all students, AP courses are thought of with even more reverence. However, Huk, showing blatant disregard for the rumors surrounding the course, registered to take AP Chem online. As Huk soon found, chemistry was a very complex subject.
“My biggest obstacle [in completing the course] was the content. The homework was a lot, but the concepts that I had to learn were usually way out of my league,” Huk said, “and I had to watch videos over and over and do problem after problem. Sometimes, I would think I had it, but then I would take a quiz and completely fail. I hadn’t really taken any difficult sciences before this, and AP chemistry was definitely an eye-opener for how difficult and in depth all of science is.”
The entire aspect of an online course was challenging as well. It was harder for Huk to understand the concepts without a real, live teacher in front of her. When she does not understand a topic, she cannot ask a question and receive a detailed explanation about it right away, so she emails her professors questions instead. In the meantime, Huk watches and analyzes videos on the topic to help herself understand.
“I’d say that an online AP course entails more work and harder concepts, which are more difficult to [understand] because you don’t have the setting where you can easily ask a question,” said Huk.
The thing about an online course is that all the work is done in spare time. Juggling all of her regular school courses, a college-level online course, and other extracurriculars was quite a balancing act. Huk’s homework was scheduled for her, so each week she knew what she had to complete. However, finding the time to do her lab reports and problem sets, as well as study for the tests that were every one to two weeks, between her other homework, proved to be challenging.
“I knew that AP was a lot of work, but I felt that I was underestimating the complexity of the content brought up in the course,” said Huk. “ I had to work to look at what was due for chemistry, and what was due for school and work out a system for when to do what needed to be done.”
Taking an AP Chem as a freshman with no real experience of a normal high school class was a risk, but Huk was not without her reasons. Huk is seriously considering a career in the science field, especially the medical field. She feels that taking Chemistry this year will help open up her future options.
“Chemistry is an extremely difficult science to understand, and I wanted to get ahead in case it wasn’t making sense to me,” Huk said. “I wanted to either use this class to get ahead and be able to skip chemistry to take on new challenges, or to determine whether or not I should spend more time on this subject.”
Huk wants to take as many of Woodland’s science courses as she can in order to find which science field she truly has a passion for. AP Chemistry was one of Huk’s first steps in learning all she can about science during her time at high school. To all other incoming freshmen, she says to take AP Chem if you have a passion for science, but the course is not for everybody. “It depends on how far you are willing to go to learn and dedicate yourself to a subject.”
Her biggest regret from the experience was not having better studying habits. As she was balancing this extra work on top of her normal classes, school work often accumulated and her normal classes had to take a priority.
“The week before the AP exam, I ended up with a lot of homework and I had to choose each day what to work on, and of course my schoolwork had to come first since the AP exam wasn’t factored into my GPA,” Huk said. “I did study for two weeks, but I definitely should have started sooner and I think if I had, my AP exam grade would be higher.”
However, Huk does not regret taking the course at all. In fact, she regards it as a learning experience. “It was very humbling and even if I didn’t do well on the exam, the class was a great challenge and taught me a lot outside of chemistry as well,” said Huk.
Huk took on the intimidating beast that is AP Chemistry. Although she did not have the experience she had hoped for, she still learned from the class and looks towards a future filled with science.