AP Human Geography charts new course for freshmen

Students will find AP Human Geography in the course selection for next year as the first class of its kind at CHS—the only AP course ever to be offered to incoming freshman.

While the idea of introducing the class had been debated previously, preparations began this past fall as the administration and faculty came to an agreement to include it.

“It is a pilot program, meaning that this first year is a chance to see how everything goes and pay attention to the students’ overall experience in the course,”  freshman/sophomore counselor Jennifer Goodbody explains. “There will only be one class of about 30 kids offered, students who have been chosen through objective criteria in order to ensure their opportunity at success in the class.”

Currently the enrollment for the class is 26, and only one student has declined the invitation to take the class.

While the new AP course provides many positive attributes, there is concern that some variables could go wrong with the class.

“I worry about the kids’ workloads, with their honors courses and now this AP class, as well as the fact that they are going to be transitioning into the social environment of high school,” Goodbody says. “The pressure that not only parents and society put on children, but also the pressure they put on themselves, makes me wonder if a freshman

AP class will be healthy in the long run.”

However, the actual course material of AP Human Geography is much less fact-based than that of classes such as AP World History, a course offered to CHS sophomores, and seems to focus more on skill sets, according to Bill Schrier, who will be teaching the class in 2013-14.

AP Human Geography material focuses on topics reaching beyond geography, such as cultural patterns and processes, industrialization and economic development, and even rural and urban land use.

Though it is an Advanced Placement course, Human Geography is more laidback than many others, Schrier explains, and because of its broad-based and useful topics has the opportunity to provide freshmen with a head-start in high school.

“The material is very well planned and has good development over the year,” Schrier notes. “The class is fairly new to the AP world, only about ten years old, but offers an abundance of benefits, including the introduction to skills they will use all four years of high school.”

Another possible benefit is that the course may better prepare freshmen for their transition into sophomore year, particularly into AP World History, which many students consider one of the most difficult AP courses.

“Sophomore year has been such a change from freshman year, especially because of AP World History, and it took me a while to adapt to the workload and difficulty of the course,” sophomore Paige Barger explains. “If I had had the chance to take AP Human Geography last year I would have because it would have helped with the transition into high school and other AP classes.”

Despite any reservations about the course’s difficulty and workload on incoming freshmen, administration and counselors are hopeful about the turnout of next year’s AP Human Geography class.

The few selected students for the course, all currently eighth graders at CMS, have been well informed and prepared for what to expect from an AP course after a meeting for prospective students earlier in the year, and Goodbody notes that they have accepted their invitations to take the class with excitement.

This optimism for the course is only matched by Schrier’s enthusiasm going into the class.

“I am taking a summer course on the class, and I am really learning all of the material as they will be next year,” Schrier says. “I am going to proceed slowly initially and feel out the class, but one of my main goals is to put them at ease and welcome them.”

-EMILY WOLFSON