The Race Gap in Higher Education — Minorities Taking AP Classes

It’s no secret that a majority of students have been taking AP classes to boost their chances of getting into a good college. Yet, there has been a major race gap when it comes to the number of minorities taking AP classes versus white people.

The main factor is that more white people take AP classes because they have more resources and are encouraged by their teachers and peers. Ultimately, most minorities feel that they are inadequately prepared to take AP classes or that an AP class is too elitist and they are often discouraged to take them.

As a result, racial and class barriers are what often hindering underrepresented minorities to take an AP class, which is the next step in their education. With that being said, minorities should be more encouraged to take AP class because it will challenge them to better succeed in their future college careers and beyond.

African Americans and other minorities do not always get the chance to take AP classes, because they are constantly being told that they are incapable of being successful in both direct and indirect ways. But, AP classes were designed for college-bound students to reach their full potential by taking college-level courses and earn college credit while still in high school.

If we are consistently putting down minorities limiting their success, how can they develop the confidence that they will be successful despite their initial counterships? This type of discrimination is not the first time that minorities are being limited to their education.

In fact, it started with Little Rock Nine when nine black students were denied access to go to an all-white high school in Arkansas, which they ultimately declared that decision unconstitutional. And although one can say that we have made progress since then, we still have a lot more work to do.

According to the New York Times, “African-Americans, for example, represented just over 14.6 percent of the total high school graduating class last year, but made up less than 4 percent of the A.P. student population who earned a score of 3 or better on at least one exam.”

The fact of the matter is that minorities are often discouraged from taking higher-level classes, mainly because they come from low-income backgrounds and are already looked down upon in their schools, so they are not given the confidence to take pre-AP classes or even prepare for college. It is sad that this type of injustice that so many activists have fought for are still continuing in education today, and noone is doing anything about it.

Generally speaking, most minorities still do not have the access/opportunity to thrive at their schools, despite the increase. According to College Board, “6 in 10 Asian students with a 60 percent or higher likelihood of succeeding on an AP science course took any such AP science course, compared to 4 in 10 white students, 4 in 10 Hispanic/Latino students, 3 in 10 black/African American and 3 in 10 American Indian/Alaska Native students.

Despite significant progress, African American, Hispanic/Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native students who show AP potential through the PSAT/NMSQT still typically enroll in AP classes at lower rates than white and Asian students.” Black people are often side-tracked due to preconceptions of “not knowing what they want to do in life” or them “being on the wrong path” so school officials do not even bother with training them with AP’s like the rest of their classmates, because they are already condemning them to failure. This type of discrimination and stereotypical judgment is indeed wrong.

I know I can relate to this from personal experience. I, myself was hindered and even discouraged from taking AP classes even though I was getting stellar grades in my honors classes, but what was really discouraging is that, they were encouraging other people, even people who didn’t even put in the effort, like I did, to take AP classes.

In the long run, I am more successful than ever with taking AP classes and the situation is different for everyone.

Also, with encouraging minorities to take AP classes, they can regain a sense of confidence and worth that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. They can get pushed to their higher potential by learning subjects at a higher level and be surrounded by people that are just as passionate as them in their education, which is something that they would never take for granted.

Not to mention, the extra five points which are added to their GPA, which something regular classes cannot compete for. Due to several factors, most minorities, particularly when “students feel peer-pressure not to compete with their elitist white counterparts, since it is obvious that white students are affluent and more likely to take AP classes”, according to (Journal of Blacks in Higher Education).

As well, it has become the “norm” for black students and other minorities to ditch out on AP classes because it is out of their league or outside of their racial components. AP classes should not be limited to just one race, it should be open to everyone and even though, most black students who are put in predominantly white schools for better education are still being discriminated against/not being encouraged to take opportunities to further advance.

This type of change cannot happen overnight, but if we just take the time to show minorities the benefits and give them the confidence to succeed by training them the same way as their other classmates, they will do much better in life, no matter where they go next.

In all, even though they are different from the rest of their counterparts, AP classes should be more diverse in terms of minorities enrolling. It could be the one thing that may change their life and education forever in terms of being more successful and it opens up more opportunities than they can imagine.

Instead of trying to derail or deter them from moving forward, school officials should be able to better encourage them and make them feel comfortable where they are being academically challenged.

“More Blacks Are Competing In Advanced Placement Programs, But The Racial Scoring Gap Is Widening”. Jbhe.com.

Quinton, Sophie. “The Race Gap In High School Honors Classes”. The Atlantic.

“10 Years Of Advanced Placement Exam Data Show Significant Gains In Access And Success; Areas For Improvement”. The College Board.