The right amount of exercise

by L

How much exercise do Totebaggers get? More or less than you need? Right now I get far less than I need, but at this point my desire for sleep overcomes my desire to increase my exercise level. For several years in my 20s, I exercised far too much and more than was good for me; growing up I only exercised occasionally.

Physical activity guidelines: How much exercise do you need?

Advertisements

216 thoughts on “The right amount of exercise

  1. I run 4 miles at least 3 times/week, usually 4 times/week (sometimes 5 times if I’m lucky but the schedule doesn’t always work out). I also lift weights for 30 minutes twice/week – not enough to actually build any noticeable muscle, but just enough to keep my core & non-running muscles strongish. Getting my runs in is always one of my top priorities for the week. I feel so much better when I do.

  2. Over the past 3.5 years, almost to the day, I have averaged 4x/week at my gym. That excludes any other countable exercise I get while being away and using other gyms, doing yardwork, or taking my exercise outside like walking for and hour + per day when we vacation at the Jersey shore. I try for 5x/wk which gives me a more balanced set of workouts, but c’est la vie.

    My typical workouts are either:
    – aerobic/cardio 30-45min exercycle, elliptical, treadmill or some combination. Always strenuous enough so I really cannot carry on a conversation. Sometimes 60 minutes.
    – weights/resistance a circuit of 10-12 different exercises focusing on core/abdomen/upper body. Depending on the exercise I might just do 3 sets of 10 reps or as many as 4 sets of 25 reps. The weight training usually takes me 40-45 minutes and I’m whipped after.

    I usually alternate days between the two.

    I’m still way heavier than I want to be / should be. And I really can’t walk very fast due to an arthritic hip. But my endurance is better than many. And I can only imagine the mess I would be if I hadn’t been this intense about things since 8/2012.

  3. I exercise 4 – 6 hours a week. I go to a 60 minute boot camp once a week which gets me to do things like push-ups that I would never otherwise do and then I go running 3 – 4 times a week. I like to do a half-marathon run a couple times a year to force me to get in some longer runs (my standard runs are 4 – 6 miles).

    My mom did not exercise at all and it really affected her last couple years of life. So that serves as a big motivation for me. And similar to Lark, I almost always feel better after a run..

    For a long time, I’ve worked out 2 – 3 times a week – but a year and a half ago, I joined a group where you pledge to workout a minimum of 1,000 minutes a month and put in $20. If you don’t make the 1,000 minutes, you lose the $20. We post weekly updates on a facebook group. This has really helped me increase the amount I exercise. I’ve been in a funk this month and if it wasn’t for this group and me not wanting to break my streak, I don’t think I would have exercised much.

  4. The other thing that helps is that my kids are older and can get themselves ready in the morning. During the week, I go running at 6 am. This wouldn’t have been possible when the kids were in the toddler/preschool years.

  5. I usually get enough exercise each week. I’ve been able to run outside this winter since it has been warmer than normal except for one nasty month. I use the gym, or spinning if I can’t run outside. I’ve been trying to limit Soul Cycle because it is too much money. I have to spend more time in the gym, or more days running now that I am in the city for a 1 or 2 days per week vs. 5 days. The reason is that I was actually getting a lot of extra exercise from walking to/from trains, subways and up/down subway and train stairs. It was a lot of walking vs. using my car for many days per week.

    I have a nagging feeling in my head when I skip too many days ( 3 or more) without a workout. I mix up my cardio with running, elliptical and spinning. I am not skinny, but average for my height. I’ve been about the same weight for 20 years, but I am more concerned about how my clothes fit vs. the scale. I rarely weigh myself, but I try to watch my diet if my jeans start to feel too tight.

  6. In the past two years, I think I have missed 6 of my tai chi classes (2X/WK), generally due to a kid school thing or a parent in the hospital thing. I always do at least 30 min of aerobic exercise before or after. I was walking in my neighborhood on the alternate weekday mornings or at noon (don’t walk in the dark or rain) on a 2 mile route (not flat, but nothing very steep) that took about 35-40 minutes depending on car traffic that I needed to cross. However, there have been some women attacked in our general area, which has limited my walking as (1) there are far fewer regular walkers/gardeners outside and (2) I don’t have a buddy to walk with.

    When I keep up the above routine and don’t go crazy with eating, I can maintain my weight. Any less than that requires careful food monitoring or the pounds creep back on. I’m trying to find a way to get more days in at the gym, but with kid transportation, parent monitoring, and my part-time work, the only time left is after 7:30 pm and by then, the last thing on my mind is the gym.

  7. “I feel so much better when I do.”

    I get a bit annoyed when I hear that.  :)  I feel no differently when I exercise, and I recently found out it must be genetic.  The science is settled, at least according to The Daily Mail.

    Do you hate working out at the gym? You’re not lazy, it’s genetic, scientists claim
    Brains’ reactions to exercise could be 50 per cent determined by genetics
    Some people are ‘benign masochists’ and enjoy the pain of exercise
    Others have a low threshold and could be tired out by cooking a meal

    If you dread exercising and feel lousy after a physical work out, it might not be because you are lazy, new research has suggested.
    While some people experience euphoria from endorphins after exercise, others will find their moods plummet due to their psycho-biological ‘inner voice’, scientists claim.
    The physical effects of exercising such as puffing an panting, sweating and pain can trigger varying responses in the brain depending on the person.

  8. Oh, to clarify, I feel better when I’ve FINISHED a run. It’s very rare for me to have a run that’s actually enjoyable while I’m running. About 1 out of every 10 run, I think, this is great, I think I’ll go an extra couple miles. But the other 9 I spend most of the time thinking, this sucks, why is it always so hard, why doesn’t it get easier. And then at the end when I stop I feel great for the rest of the day :)

    I don’t find exercise particularly helps me with weight. If anything, I’m starving when I have a 20 mile week and definitely eat more. I find weight seems to be much more influenced by what/how much I eat.

  9. To clarify I feel the same after I finish exercising. No feeling great or euphoric or energized, and if I skip exercising for a week (or more) I definitely do not miss it.

  10. “I feel so much better when I do.”

    As do I. That fails to explain why it’s such a chore to get off my ass and go to the gym.

  11. @coc – totally agree. I work out because it’s the right thing to do, not because there is any joy or satisfaction in it.

  12. I go for a 35 minute walk about 4-6x per week. That’s it. I should do weights, but I never get around to it. I enjoy my time because I listen to podcasts on my walk.

  13. “I feel so much better when I do.”

    “I get a bit annoyed when I hear that. :) I feel no differently when I exercise, and I recently found out it must be genetic.”

    CofC – I’m surprised. I assumed (incorrectly, evidently) everyone got at least a *slight* endorphin rush from working out. I have always felt it was more pronounced in some people (like my sister and me) than in many, though. DH and I have agreed I have no business skipping more than a day or so of working out during stressful times, and there was a time when you could tell, within a few minutes of interacting with my sister, whether she’d run yet or not.

    I have used this as part of the “addictive physiology” warning speech I give my kids from time to time. I seem to have an extremely strong physical reliance on things like exercise and caffeine, and assume things like nicotine and drugs would grab me just as hard. There’s definitely something in our DNA.

    As for the OP, I try for 5-7 days/week, with a few of those being “active recovery” days–i.e., a 40-min walk w/ the dogs, or a 50-min Pilates or yoga session, or an easy spin in front of DVR’d Real Housewives, rather than anything particularly strenuous. On the other days, I rotate through barre, spinning and CrossFit. It keeps me sane and, equally as important, it keeps me on the light end of my weight range, which is the most essential component of avoiding further hip complications/revisions/replacements. That last point alone has always been motivation enough for me to work out whether I feel like it or not, and to watch my food intake carefully.

  14. I run/walk on a treadmill for 20 minutes 3x/week and do a 10-minute high-intensity strength workout 2x/week. IOW, I do the bare minimum. I’ve been thinking of increasing, but so far have not done it. At my age, I’m most concerned about strength and balance, and less about endurance. But I would like to remain mobile and independent as long as possible. One measure of fitness that is meaningful to me is being able to lift my bag on to the overhead compartment on a plane. Another is simply to walk for several miles without tiring. My goals are modest.

  15. I can’t sleep if I don’t exercise. I just lie there and twitch. I’ve always exercised a lot, and I’m a data point for the view that exercise doesn’t make you thinner. I only lose weight when I restrict my eating. I hate exercise when I’m doing it but feel lots better afterwards, and I am sympathetic to those who don’t feel that way. I have the same “oh eff off” reaction to people who say “I started walking for 30 minutes a day and the weight just melted off!!”. I ran over 30 miles a week AND swam a mile a day in grad school and never lost weight. Now I do a mix of Corepower Yoga classes — the C2, the “yoga sculpt” which has nothing to do with yoga and is just weight training, and next month they’re starting circuit training that they’re not even pretending is related to yoga. I also swim laps, do high intensity intervals on my exercise bike, run intervals if the weather is nice, and sometimes take Zumba classes. I’m still old and fat, but I’m pretty strong.

  16. My regimen is very similar to Houston. I try to get a 2nd 30 min walk in during the workday by bringing my lunch, but most days things are just too rushed. I have recently added some yoga videos that I do at home. My form isn’t great, but it has helped with lower back pain and I’d like to keep my flexibility as I age. I need more strength work, but don’t know when it will get to the top of the list.

  17. “I’m surprised. I assumed (incorrectly, evidently) everyone got at least a *slight* endorphin rush from working out. ”

    Nope. Not me. DH needs to work out and really feels terrible if he misses a workout or two. That said, he has an addictive personality and I don’t, so you might be onto something Risley.

  18. CofC – same here on the goals: balance, strength, flexibility, mobility. Not thinking about qualifying for Boston, but only want the functional aspects to be strong: walk to the gate, hoist the bag into the overhead bin, tour Rome or wherever on foot, step from a dock onto a moving boat, etc. Then later: walk to the park w/ grandkids, lift them onto the swing, push for a while, etc.

  19. This post has made me feel so depressed. I have been a runner and cyclist since my early 20’s. I absolutely need it, for the calming effect (AFTER not DURING of course). When I was pregnant, I swam, which has the same effect but isn’t as convenient. If I miss an aerobic workout for more than a couple of days, I get really antsy and nervous, and feel like climbing walls.

    But starting last summer, I have been having a lot of weird pain issues. It is all centered on my right leg, and started as major hamstring pain, usually after driving. It just got worse and worse until I had to stop running. It seems to affect my back too, at various times. I saw a doctor, did physical therapy which consisted of lots of stretching which may have made it worse. At that point, I could only exercise using a bike machine. After I laid off the stretching, I got to the point where I could run on a treadmill a couple of times a week, and intersperse that with bike machine and the dreaded elliptical (most unpleasant exercise machine ever). And then, in January, I suddenly developed a major case of plantar fascitis, in the foot of that same darned leg. I have NEVER had that before, even when running many miles a week. Worse yet, my teaching schedule means that I am on my feet for 4 hours straight twice a week, and I can barely HOBBLE after one of those sessions.

    So I stopped running again. But it was warm yesterday so I tried again – and it was miserable. My foot hurt, my hamstring hurt, and other muscles I never even knew about hurt. I know I am losing strength and fitness by not running, which will make it very hard to get back in if I should ever figure out how to fix my injuries. And to make me feel worse, I don’t think running caused any of the trouble – I think it was too much driving and now too much standing. I have another appointment with the doctor on Wednesday but I figure she is just going to send me back to the torture stretchers at physical therapy. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

    Oh, and I have been lifting weights in the meantime. I am considering signing up with a personal trainer who does Pilates too.

  20. Risley, I have the worst caffeine addiction you could ever imagine so you might be right about the addictive personality thing. I literally cannot SPEAK before I have had coffee in the morning.

  21. I always feel envious of people at yoga or at the Y gym but have not taken the all important step of joining them. What I like to do is walk outside but I don’t have a schedule. My weight has remained in a tight range for years. I worked out in grad school and pre kids but other than being older, I don’t feel or look much different. I should use RMS’s example and say that I will be stronger with exercise.

  22. MooshiMooshi – my deepest sympathies. I had a bone break and had to take 13 weeks off of running, and then 13 more weeks of a very slow build back up, and it was awful. My family was ready to give me away.

  23. I think of exercise as my anti-anxiety medication. When I’m not exercising, I’m a mess. When I do exercise, it seems to have an emotionally leveling effect that lasts. Most days I take a long walk to get some sunshine, get away from my desk, and just plain keep moving. I do a short version of bodyweight interval training 4-5 days a week (can be done at home), and I lift heavier weights about 2 times a week. But each of those is closer to a 30 min workout, and then making time for the walks. I can’t wait for my kids to get a bit bigger and/or easier to bring along for exercise. I was remembering how much I loved skating the other day, and it’d be nice to get out on a bike trail and roller blade. But at this point I’d have to figure out how to drag 3 little people along with me! (Well, one of them would ride a bike and keep up, but the other two not so much.) This season of my life seems more about the gym because there is childcare, activities I can do from home when I’m limited by kid stuff, and being time flexible.

    I will say that after my back injury I have been solidly consistent with maintaining my level of activity. I used to have months where I wouldn’t work out, and then I’d get back into the habit, etc. At this point in life I am realizing that as soon as I “stop” all the aches and pains return with a vengeance, so I’d best just keep moving.

  24. Mooshi– I’m sure you’ve tried a million things so ignore this if it’s duplicative, but I had really awful plantar fasciitis last summer. I think from here and a couple friends I asked I learned about the fabric braces that you can wear on your feet at rest– I wore mine when I sat to work and while I was sleeping for a week or two. I also got one of those little massage ball things, which I still use. They’re cheap and easy to use, but they turned out to be a lot more helpful than I would have figured. http://www.amazon.com/Due-North-Foot-Massage-Green/dp/B002QEY6NK/ref=sr_1_14?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1456165096&sr=1-14&keywords=plantar+fasciitis

  25. Oh, Mooshi, that really sucks. I’m so sorry. I hope you can find a solution soon.

    I finally had to give up caffeine this summer after a trip to California. I was up by 6:00 every morning, but that was PST, and I’m used to having coffee early in the EST. By the time I got to Starby’s every morning, my head was already splitting. It pounded all day, every day, and it ruined my entire week. (I believe I whined about it to ssk when I saw her that week. I was only a day or two in by then but already totally miserable). I made a plan to titrate it down and over a period of about 5 weeks, got completely off. Couldn’t take being so captive to it any more.

  26. Mooshi – I think if injury prevented me from running, it would definitely screw up my overall exercise plan in a major way. What I love about running is a) super convenient – I live a 5 minute jog from a major running trail so it’s pretty easy for me to find time to fit in a run (unlike say swimming where it’s dependent on pool hours) and b) I greatly prefer being outdoors to being in a gym. I loathe treadmills.

    Risley – that’s a good point about addictive personalities. I’m a total caffeine addict. And I’ve told my kids that I’ve never tried smoking because I knew I would love it and never be able to give it up if I started (and they should assume they’d have the same reaction). I should broaden this to include other drugs.

  27. Tulip, I just bought one of those foot massage things. I have heard about the braces – my best friend, a fellow runner and coffee-addict – has struggled with plantar fascitis for years and uses one. I was going to wait until I see the doctor to see if she has a recommendation on braces and also orthotics. I have unusual feet – they are very narrow, very high arches, and I walk/run almost totally on the outside. My shoes wear down fast on the outsides. But the thing is, I have run for years and never had trouble so if it were my gait, I would have thought it would have appeared earlier. I still think the hamstring/back pain is related because it is all on my right leg.

  28. That stinks, Mooshi.

    I aim for 45 minutes a day of step aerobics (I think I may be the last person on earth still doing it), elliptical, or hilly walks with a 100 pound double stroller. Generally I have a driven if not addictive personality, but I don’t find it has the positive endorphin effect on me.

    I also interval train by doing frequent short sprints carrying a thirty pound weight, usually in the direction of the nearest lavatory :)

  29. I gave up coffee in my first pregnancy. It was the worst thing ever, and as soon as I gave birth – literally – I asked my husband to go find me coffee. This was after 6 months of not drinking coffee, yet it was all I wanted as soon as I could. In my second pregnancy, I simply cut back.

  30. Mooshi — what do you hate about the elliptical? For a few years I could not run and could barely walk, and the elliptical was my salvation. I would still prefer it, but we really don’t have room for two machines and my H must have his treadmill.

  31. For those of you who do ellipical, how do you make it more comfortable? It is such an awkward gait, and I feel weirdly scrunched on the machine. Also, my feet keep sliding forwards until they jam into the lip on the front of the footpiece. I must be doing something wrong.

  32. Mooshi, a personal trainer could school you on proper elliptical use. But for some people it may just be a very unnatural movement.

  33. Mooshi, we have owned more than one elliptical and the stride mechanics vary widely. I’m very petite but some of the home machines have strides that are too short for me, and I have to have my petite slacks hemmed :)

    IME the more expensive machines have better strides. We have a Best Fitness now and it’s really comfortable for me.

  34. I am using the ones at the gym. They are all pretty high end, and there are several variants, and they are all uncomfortable. I also tried ellipticals at two different hotels.

    We keep exercise equipment out of our house as best we can…

  35. On another topic, my soon to be 16 year old wants to do some weight training. He is very skinny, and thinks that adding a little muscle will help his cross country times. I see teens at my gym, and when I asked about teens joining, the gym person said that 16 is a great age to start. I can get a 3 day pass so he can try it out – but he doesn’t know anything about weight training, and I don’t really know what a 16 year old should be doing. Any advice? If he actually joins, he will get a quick session with a trainer, but should I have him try stuff on the 3 day pass first?

  36. I walk 3-4 miles seven days a week. The doctor always tells me to add weight training and I ask if she would prefer I give up sleeping or eating to find the time.
    Mooshi I get severe plantar when I wear shoes without enough heel support–flip flops and some flats.

  37. Mooshi– My DH is a runner, and over the summer he had a period of back/hip pain out of nowhere that stopped him first from running, and then he was in pain even walking. He’s never in pain and is in great shape, and he found this really depressing. He’s back to running now, but what seemed to help him the most was seeing a chiropractor (who also sent him home with some PT exercises to do.) He’d basically tweaked something and she was able to get him back in good form. I think he went twice a week for about 3 weeks and then was done. I hope you can get some good answers. Dealing with pain when it lingers and is chronic bleeds over into everything.

  38. MM – I don’t belong to a gym w/ an elliptical anymore, but back in the day, I went backwards on it 99% of the time, b/c that felt so much better, stridewise, than going forward.

    Still loving my under-desk bike, btw. Def an “active recovery” thing rather than a blast workout, but after doing that for an entire workday, you sure feel like you’ve done something. Might be a good solution for ppl pressed for time. But MM, you’d need the little portable elliptical, which you can do while standing (i.e., lecturing).

  39. If I have to do indoor gym work, I prefer the elliptical. I get knee pain from a treadmill or running. I have a bare bones home Precor machine WITHOUT the moving handholds – just fixed vertical rails like some treadmills – I usually can’t manage very well on a hotel or gym machine that has the arms as well. But a lot of people don’t like it at all. When DH finishes the Medicare paid cardiac rehab (which is working, see below) we will have in a personal trainer to get him on a regimen on the home equipment, which also includes a weight bench. I have made a deal with him that if he does it twice a week, I’ll do it twice a week on alternate days. Can’t do me any harm.

    I don’t enjoy or get any high from gym type exercise, but I feel much better after light hiking or kayaking or even a brisk walk. I think being alone in a natural setting and in outdoor air are the key. Losing weight for me is all about food intake, not exercise. My objectives as an older adult are strength, balance and flexibility and being able to manage home projects and a few miles a day on my feet when traveling. For example, I went to Costco and purchased a 58 in Vizio UHD TV and of course needed a new bigger stand (Best Buy – wonderful service – they are trying hard). Nice young men lifted the boxes into the back of the Matrix, but when I got home I managed to push the heavy box with the parts of the stand from the car down the slope to the basement slider and DH (!) and I carried the TV box (only 50 lbs with handholds, but big and fragile) down as well. Over the weekend i did all the stand assembly (twisting the allen wrench on all the bolts was the only tough part – on my achy hands) and enlisted DH only to position the TV onto the stand (it has an attached a bar in back to mount the TV in the air – no masonry drill and anchors required as would be for a separate wall mount).

  40. Mooshi, I had really bad plantar fasciitis about 12 years ago. I got custom orthotics from a podiatrist and they totally resolved it. I still wear them all the time (definitely getting my money’s worth from them) and I haven’t had a problem.

  41. I’ve been doing nothing (occasional walk) since DS was born (4.5 years ago). I like to walk and do pilates but I do not like to walk with kids (they are so slow and my two year old will not stay in a stroller). I do walk my oldest to school about twice a week (25 minutes round trip) but that’s not really much of an effort (totally flat). One of those things on my list to do when I quit my job. DH has joked he’s going to get me a fit bit to make sure I’m getting 10,000 steps per day while I’m living my “life of leisure” as a stay at home mom.

  42. MooshiMooshi – On your DS – I have a very skinny 16 year old boy and he has been working out with a trainer and it has been a great experience. I would start your son out with the trainer – maybe get him a few sessions to begin with. He will need to learn proper technique as well as a few routines so he can feel comfortable working out on his own as well as what he could do to reach his goal. My son has been doing it on and off for two years. He is still skinny but strong and along with that comes some confidence he didn’t have. Plus it’s a local gym that attracts some college and pro athletes and he loves being in there with the bigger guys.

    I usually am reading – rarely jump in to add anything but skinny teen boys I can talk about!

  43. Vigorous exercise (especially cardio) has always exhausted me. So many people say that sweat-producing exercise gives them more energy, and/or puts them in a great mood. I always had the opposite reaction — it depleted me physically and mentally, and made it hard for me to sleep.

    So a couple of years ago, I finally admitted to myself that I am not cut out to be an athlete, and I modified my workouts accordingly. I do only one vigorous class per week (a one-hour strength class on Saturday mornings), plus one yoga class a week. Occasionally I will also add a barre class, but I opt for the short one (40-45 minutes) rather than the full-hour one. Other than that, I just walk as much as I can. I am so much happier, and feel so much better, than I did back when I was trying to emulate the heavy-lifting, hard-running women from the Athleta catalogs.

    DH is totally different regarding exercise. For him, too much is never enough. He bike-commutes to school (15 miles each way) whenever the weather is decent. Each weekend he does at least one 10-12 mile run. He lifts weights at the gym regularly. Training for marathons is his hobby. He is a total PITA to live with if he doesn’t get his high-intensity workouts regularly; I think he has the addictive personality type that some of you have mentioned.

    We can’t quite tell yet whether the kids take after him or me in this regard.

  44. My goal is 3-4 classes at the gym per week. Usually 2 stability/core strengthening classes, and 2 yoga/yogalates classes. I have to get back into more weight lifting, or cardio work. I just don’t have the desire to be that sweaty without a definite outcome (like a sports match – kill myself for an hour and have to think about plays and such; or high intensity dancing (mostly swing dance)). I used to be so active… not any more.

    I have to explore more classes the Y offers. Unfortunately most of them are during the work day, but I can make some of them work if I try. I just don’t try hard enough. Maybe when I can get DS to sleep through the night again, I’ll figure out my gym schedule. Until then, I’ll get what I can get.

    When the weather warms, I can’t wait to get out walking again. DH will start running, and I’ll encourage him to push DS because it’s extra weight. Plus I won’t have to deal with either of them for a half hour to an hour.

  45. I am like Atlanta and haven’t really exercised since I got pregnant. Now I have a 3.6 yr old. But you guys are motivating me! Each month I motivate myself enough and then it’s that time of the month and too painful to exercise! I don’t know what has happened but I used to be gym crazy before. I have a ton of workout DVDs at home now so really no excuse to not exercise. Sky, I love step workout too and thinking of not admitting to doing it in public anymore. :)

  46. Count me in the CoC category. I always thought I was defective for not getting a “runner’s high,” so I’ve been extremely happy to see this new science. Interestingly, when I was actually depressed, I *did* feel better after exercise — it was the only thing that lifted the weight from my chest and let a little color in. But now that I have returned to my normal mental state, I really can’t feel any change. I do feel much worse physically when I don’t exercise for a while (bloated/sluggish), but there just is no positive short-term effect, ever.

    It goes back to we do what makes us feel good — saving $ makes me feel good, so I naturally gravitate towards saving vs. spending; OTOH, eating chocolate gives me much more satisfaction than going for a run (my mom made mac and cheese for my birthday yesterday, and, oh, man!). I wish eating veggies and exercising made me feel good, but it doesn’t, so I have to put it in the “delayed gratification” category and just suck it up for my own good.

    @Mooshi: have you had someone check your spine for disc problems? When DH had a “hamstring pull” that moved between his knee and his hip, it turned out it was a ruptured disc that was just pressing against different parts of the nerves.

    Also second the chiropractor option. I haven’t been able to run much for maybe 18 mos. now, because when I do it too often, I get something tweaked. The chiropractor found an underlying instability — he said it’s pretty common for age and normal wear and tear to reveal things that you could just power through when younger — and my tuneups with him have been awesome. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to run reliably again, but it helps a lot to keep normal life stuff from setting me off (e.g., the bend-and-twist-to-get-tupperware-and-not-be-able-to-straighten-up stuff that makes you feel really old, really fast).

  47. Atlanta Mom, I didn’t/don’t exercise as a SAH parent, either. I like to go outside for a walk by myself, but that doesn’t happen as much as I’d like. I hope to incorporate outside exercise back into my life after this summer, when Mr WCE’s job hopefully settles down.

    When all the kids were little, I’d walk around the sand volleyball court while they played in it, etc. I was never a member of a local gym but our local gyms got rid of childcare when they got bought out by the local hospital chain.

  48. Also: ditto on the ellipticals. The only ones I can tolerate are the LifeFitness; the Precors and other models are incredibly unnatural and always make me feel like I’m going to jam my knee. Go to an exercise equipment store and try different brands, they’re all different (you don’t have to buy, but that will at least tell you what to look for at the gym).

  49. Off topic:

    Donald Trump’s rise has confirmed something polling data already suggested, namely, that most Republican voters don’t actually subscribe to much of the party’s official orthodoxy.

    I was back over at the WSJ and I noticed the rise of Trump has created a war between the WSJ and its commentariat.

  50. Rhett, if I could get a work-from-home job, that’s totally what I’d do. I am not a “sit still” kind of person and that affects what jobs I prefer.

  51. I have a standing desk, but I use it as a regular desk. I find it more comfortable and that I concentrate more while sitting.

  52. Until the first of the year, I used a stationary bike for 15 minutes and day and got around 10,000 steps in. I’ve been sick since then and haven’t used the bike this year. I’ve never felt the sense of well being from exercise, although I do enjoy going for a walk with DH or the kids.

    College question, what does it mean when your kid gets a letter from a university saying that although they haven’t been officially accepted, they can expect to hear good news about admissions and a merit scholarship?

  53. Cordelia–that sounds like a likely letter. Some Ivies and some other schools send them because they have a single date where they release all their decisions. So they send these letters in advance of that date to top candidates so you don’t commit elsewhere before they release the official decisions. It basically means she’s in:). Look on college confidential for more info

  54. The walking desk is one of those things that makes me *really* wish we had more room. I have no space, but I would love a walking desk. A lot of my work used to involve phone calls, and I would often pace around the room when I was on the phone just because it was easier for me to focus on the conversation when I was moving.

  55. Cordelia and BL – that is interesting. It sounds like a “Save the Date” card for college admissions. It seems like they could just send the letters at that point.

  56. Rhett, like the monitor setup but I don;t think I could concentrate on work while trying to balance on a treadmill!

  57. I haven’t done the college admissions thing in over thirty years, but it is starting to feel more and more like buying a used car. Is there some bargaining strategy? Is the first aid offer an opening offer, a final offer, something else? Is it done to play one school off another? I feel like DD or I should be able to say to College A, I really like your program, and would love to go there, but College B offered me X and I don’t know that I can justify the extra cost of College A. Is there anyway you could help me out a little?

    Does/has anyone done that? Milo, Rhett..?

  58. laurafrombaltimore – back in the fall, the orthopedist did Xrays of my spine and said she didn’t see anything too much – some beginnings of arthritis which she said is pretty typical in most people she sees of my age. From my online research, it appears that hamstrings, butt muscles, and lower back are all incredibly interconnected, and if something goes wrong in one (disk problems, tight muscles, etc), it affects all of it. What did your husband do for the ruptured disk, btw?

    Chiropractors are a no-go for me. For a number of reasons, I could never trust one.

  59. “Does/has anyone done that? Milo, Rhett..?”

    College applications? No, that’s still 10 years out.

  60. I have my early weekday morning exercise time, but I’m always looking to work in more at other times. I could use more cardio, especially. A lot of the dance type videos are too long for the time I usually have available in the mornings. I do the easy add-to-your-routine stuff like taking stairs and stretching my legs at lunch time but it’s hard to create time for long hikes or such. Weekends are so short and we have all the life maintenance stuff.

    I dislike running but I enjoy brisk walking just fine.

  61. I thought that Milo’s brother went elsewhere, and I just expect Milo to have figured out negotiation strategies for EVERYTHING

  62. Cordelia, I believe congrats are in order. I think BenL is right– they want your DD to enroll, so they don’t want her to commit to another college before they have a chance to send the formal acceptance.

    A kid we know was waitlisted at an Ivy last year, and got a call from the admissions office asking if he would attend if he were accepted off the waitlist. His dad’s impression was that they were only going to send the acceptance letter if he indicated he would attend.

  63. Cordelia,

    Money quote, “But Deborah Fox, a veteran family aid adviser, tries to talk them into putting the student at center stage. “I prefer the student appealing,” she said. “I want them to demonstrate taking control of their college education and being engaged in the financial aid process. Colleges have to deal with pushy parents all the time.” She claims a higher success rate with this approach.”

    I can see that being the best option.

  64. Rhett, while that’s a nice setup, I’d put one of the monitors above the others, and rotate the two on the sides into portrait mode.

    5 is weird number of monitors for one computer. I’d guess that setup is for multiple computers, most likely one with 4 monitors, and a second with 1 monitor.

  65. Finn,

    I’m going to say that’s not a realistic setup as it includes a pie chart, bar graph, stock prices and a head CT.

  66. @Mooshi — eesh, sorry, but at least you’ve got that covered. ITA, my back/hip problems have demonstrated how interconnected it all is. DH ended up losing a weekend in the hospital waiting for the meds to kick in (as in, he spent @36 hrs screaming in pain, even on morphine, and then woke up Sunday thinking it was Friday), but the meds finally did reduce the swelling enough to avoid surgery. He’s lucky that it hasn’t recurred (probably because that incident was enough to prove to himself that he was too slow to leg out a triple under any circumstances).

    @Cordelia: it was another world, but that’s exactly what I did — gee, I really love your school, but this one is cheaper and has offered more $, and I really can’t afford the difference, is there anything you can do? They did raise their grant $, but I went to the cheaper school anyway (they matched the grant $$ but didn’t make up the difference in tuition, so it still would have cost me 10-20% more). I think the way you said it is perfect, because you’re not demanding they “negotiate,” you’re asking them politely and nicely, while letting them see what their competition has offered (and if you can throw the financial need in there, that will probably help too).

  67. “I thought that Milo’s brother went elsewhere, and I just expect Milo to have figured out negotiation strategies for EVERYTHING”

    He did, but I was in 7th grade at the time.

  68. Mooshi, LfB, do you guys do any regular work on your abs/core?

    As Mooshi mentioned, legs and back are tightly connected. Maintaining ab/core fitness can help stabilize that entire system.

    When I was young, I had persistent pain in one hip and down that leg. It was eventually tracked to a lower back issue. An uncle who was into holistic medicine taught me some exercises to keep my spine and hips aligned, and also impressed on me the importance of regular ab work, based on the theory that strong ab muscles will help keep my spine aligned.

    I’ve only had a couple recurrences, and both cases coincided with injuries that kept me from regular exercise while healing.

  69. Oh, yeah, I have a similar setup to the pic above, but with only two monitors — 6′ long table desk that goes up and down, so one side has the treadmill and the other has the chair, and I just move my keyboard and mouse back and forth and swap which monitor is the primary one. It is somewhat helpful but not as much as I’d hoped — I use it much more just standing up than walking, which is a great help for my hip/back, but I just have never adjusted to really trying to think and write while walking. So good for conference calls — especially interminable office ones — but I’m not spending nearly as much time walking as I had originally hoped.

  70. @Finn — you’re exactly right, this is an area that I am weak on and need to find time to work into my whole routine.

  71. Mooshi, LfB, BTW, I’ve heard that runners and cyclists often need to specifically add ab/core work into their routines, because running and cycling don’t inherently do much to strengthen those muscles. For runners, the pounding of running can exacerbate back instability issues.

    Some exercises that don’t necessarily target the core work those muscles. E.g., pushups work the core in a manner similar to planks, and I really feel my abs working when I do triceps pushdowns.

  72. I’ve been doing some ab/core stuff. I can’t abide situps or crunches – they make my neck hurt no matter what – but I have some other things that I got from the PT folks. One reason I want to start Pilates is that I beleive it is supposed to be good for strengthening the core.

  73. OT, when my kids were young and their bedtimes were about 8 to 8:30, I got into the habit of going to exercise at about 9, after putting the kids to bed, on week nights when I didn’t bike to/from work. The HOA fitness center down the street is open until 10, so that worked well. The kids go to bed a lot later now, but I’m still on that schedule.

    For a while I was doing mostly cardio work, because my MD was concerned about my cholesterol, and told me that cardio would have more of an impact on that than resistance work.

    Side note: when I was younger, my cholesterol levels were actually a bit higher than they are now, but based on the standards of the time, they were well below the point of concern, but that got dropped and suddenly I was at an unhealthy level.

    I suffered a shoulder injury about year and a half ago, and my doctor put me on a rehab routine that was mostly resistance work. That reminded me how I’d enjoyed that before, and as the shoulder got stronger, I expanded that into a full hour of resistance work, 3x/week. So far my blood tests haven’t shown an adverse effect on those numbers.

  74. BTW Mooshi, while you can’t run, perhaps you can get in some exercise by swimming or circuit training.

  75. “I walk 3-4 miles seven days a week. The doctor always tells me to add weight training and I ask if she would prefer I give up sleeping or eating to find the time.”

    Perhaps you could trade all or part of one or two of those walks for a weight training workout.

  76. Rhett – My son has a set up very similar to the photo, which he designed and built himself around a large treadmill. Only 2 monitors, I think, and a desk that goes up and down. His job involves the US and Europe and he has to troubleshoot a lot at odd hours, and there are lots of conference calls, so he gets in a lot of walking.

    Cordelia, one my girls got a hold for good news card, and then at the last minute the midwest institution where fun goes to die decided not to offer her one of the elite honors scholarships. (I figured this out after the fact, because with the acceptance they forgot to include the need based financial aid award, and when I called about it it took them a week to generate it, and it was not up to snuff – they had already spent their dimes.) Since she was actively recruited by and attended a leading West Coast institution instead, the disappointment is long forgotten.

    I doubt very much that will happen to your child, but you never know exactly how much good news they plan to include in the fat envelope (or the electronic equivalent today).

    The occasion for negotiation (more like begging) came up sophomore year when the sunny university cut the need based award, which is something that does happen. I abased myself sufficiently (I had lots of practice at the girls’ private high school) and they didn’t try that again.

    The midwest institution made good to the family by giving the younger daughter the elite 4 year scholarship, which was ironclad unless she flunked out.

  77. Unfortunately I can’t find this in any format other than as part of the Gaiam (subscription) channel, but . . . I do this ab one a lot http://www.gaia.com/tv/express-balance-ball-workouts#show/5282 because I dislike ab work, especially the kind where you do a zillion crunches, but this works the core in mostly non-crunch ways and is only 7 minutes long so I’m not looking for excuses not to do it. It wouldn’t be right for someone looking for a six-pack but if you just want to make sure you’re getting in enough core work to keep yourself balanced, it works.

  78. J.L. Collins is kind of like the John Kasich of financial bloggers, sensible and prudent, and totally unsensational. But I enjoyed reading the transcript of his interview with yet another 30-something married pair who quit their jobs and moved to the country (in this case, Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley).

    Their main sources of income are running AirBnb rentals and selling junk on eBay.

    http://jlcollinsnh.com/2016/01/19/case-study-15-the-scavenger-life-freedom-first-then-financial-independence/

  79. “the midwest institution where fun goes to die”

    That school is on DS’ current short list.

    Cordelia, as Mémé’s post suggests, make sure to find out whether any aid offered is renewable for all four years, as opposed to just freshman year.

  80. MM,
    I agree that you should set your DS up with a trainer the first time he touches the weights. Teenage boys are not good judges of how much they can safely lift, and he can’t count on anyone nearby to provide any useful advice. You might ask his XC coach for suggestions on lifting; there are a lot of skinny guys in that sport.

    I think that exercise guidelines are like diet guidelines — they are great in the aggregate but often less than helpful for individuals. If you just feel discouraged after reading about all of the hours you are not spending on aerobic exercise and strength training, it’s unlikely to motivate you to head out for a walk. When kids are young, especially if you are a SAHM, it’s hard to get in workouts. Moms of young kids get plenty of strength training without having to go to the gym. This might be one of those things, like uninterrupted sleep, that just doesn’t happen for a few years. You do what you can, and when your kids are in preschool or you take a job with an onsite gym, you can get back into the program.

  81. Milo,

    Interesting difference of opinion between Jay “every day is Saturday” and his partner “I have to disagree with Jay that this doesn’t feel like work.”

  82. Back from 3.3 miles.

    Cordelia, the worst they can do is say no. Two tips–know where you are on the merit scale. If they’ve offered their top award and you don’t qualify for need based aid, you’re not likely to get a lot more. Second, check the college confidential forum for that school. Sometimes people post their negotiation results.
    Coincidentally DS got a letter today from a safety he’s been admitted to, offering more merit. Problem is, he was kind of insulted by their initial merit offer so he’s kind of written them off.
    And Finn, even my doctor would agree I need the cardio more than the strength.

  83. “I agree that you should set your DS up with a trainer the first time he touches the weights. Teenage boys are not good judges of how much they can safely lift, and he can’t count on anyone nearby to provide any useful advice.”

    Looking back, I guess I was lucky. As a skinny teenager, in HS PE we had one unit on weight training where we were taught how to safely train. It turns out that this and typing were two of the most useful classes I took there.

  84. “even my doctor would agree I need the cardio more than the strength.”

    Do they have to be mutually exclusive?

    Circuit training comes to mind as one way of getting strength training in a cardio workout.

    For cyclists, climbing hills combines cardio with strength training, albeit primarily leg strength. Sprint intervals also works both.

    Perhaps walking up hills or stairs is another way to combine strength and cardio training.

  85. Scarlett, I found your comment very encouraging. My thought when we have this conversation is that I need sleep more than I need exercise.

  86. WCE, I find that exercise helps me sleep better and fall asleep faster, and be fresher the next day as a result.

  87. I have no issues sleeping well or falling asleep. I have OTHER family members with those issues…

  88. @WCE – Lol. Family members will sleep all through the night at some point. Then you will have the opposite problem of people loathe to leave their beds. I’ve never had a problem falling asleep. I’ve read as one ages, sleep issues crop up and I would hate any sleep issues.

  89. Louise, I never had any problems falling asleep or staying asleep. Until I did. The combination of surgeries, cancer treatments and, ok, AGE, took its toll. It was like moving to another country. Comparing notes with others who are around my age or older, I found that NO ONE sleeps well. Who knew? But you adjust, and I found that I don’t need quite as many hours of sleep anymore, even though I am back to regular activity levels.

    WCE, you have four little kids. Sleep IS more important than exercise. This too shall pass.

  90. WCE– At many times when mine weren’t sleeping through the night, I prioritized sleep over exercise. Even then, I tended to fit in yoga or walking, and nothing super strenuous. A long run before pacing the hall with a colicky infant did NOT increase my energy level!

  91. Scarlett – I have always been a great sleeper, and I am still in my 60s, but with age I find I don’t need as much sleep as I used to and if I go to bed early I toss and turn. So for me late and tired is the way to go. I don’t have to get up before 8 am unless I have an early babysitting gig, so I turn out the lights at 1 am. I also have all my devices set to get dimmer and redder as the evening goes on. It makes a big difference if I happen to be using them instead of reading a book.

  92. I just got back from a meeting about the sequence for middle school math. It was for all middle school parents so it touched upon some HS issues since honors or accelerated 8th graders will take high school level math in middle school.

    One question that came up that sparked an interesting discussion was why take honors, and AP math classes if the HS does not weight the classes for the GPA. just curious…do your high schools use a weighted average? My district moved to non weighted averages two years ago, and I was interested in the results for college admissions.

    I know some colleges won’t even consider a kid if a GPA is below a certain number, so then it might be easier to take the non AP/honors classes. On the other hand, I know colleges keep saying they want to see a rigorous transcript if a kid can handle the more challenging classes.

  93. Lauren: Our school adds an extra point for AP classes (5 v. 4). However, I would encourage my DS to take the harder class regardless. He gets higher quality teachers and classmates in the accelerated classes. Also, he needs the advanced course work in order to prepare him for college.

    I don’t worry about grades, and I encourage DS not to worry about them either. He is doing well enough that he will have plenty of options for college. However, his GPA is too low for him to gain entry into the top colleges/universities.

  94. Most high schools that offer AP courses use a weighted average. Some do not. But class rank is more important than raw GPA in admissions, at least at our university. And so is the degree of rigor in course selection. Opting out of AP courses to improve GPA is not a winning strategy. If your school offers 25 AP classes and you don’t take at least one in each core subject area, that raises questions.

  95. Did you look at the ebay page for that Ryanne woman? Incredible crap that she’s charging several hundred dollars for. One born every minute, I guess.

  96. This is for Mooshi: I had a debilitating case of plantar fasciitis earlier this year. It is about 98% resolved at this point, but it took a long, long time and a lot of work. I waited too long to go to the doctor and lived with the pain far too long. I thought I could rest it, ice it, and limit activities until it resolved itself, but it only got worse. I was so frustrated not being able to run or hike or by the end walk across the room and so, I know how frustrating and painful it is.

    Here is what I did over the past 12 months:
    Orthopedic guy prescribed cortiosone injections directly into foot (3 times), nighttime splints, custom orthopedic inserts and a dose of prednisone
    These things resolved about 60% of the pain. At that point I decided I did not want to have to limit my activities and miss out on all the things I enjoy because of this foot pain, so I committed the time and energy to really trying to eliminate the pain completely. The ortho referred me to PT. Massage and stretching at PT 3x a week for 2 months resolved another 10% of the pain. PT then referred me to trigger point dry needling. That resolved 25% of the pain. The lingering 5% has dwindled down to 2% with further trigger point massage of foot and calf.

    As I said it has been a long slog and I still wear the custom ortho inserts and still get trigger point massages of the problem area (from a PT).

    Good luck.

  97. My kids’ school does not weight grades. An A is 4 grade points, whether it’s an AP or honors class or not.

    They also don’t rank kids, or name valedictorian/salutatorian.

    Despite this, a fair number of kids go to HSS every year.

    “He gets higher quality teachers and classmates in the accelerated classes.”

    I’m not sure about the teachers (e.g., in the science dept, the same group of teachers cover all the classes), but I don’t think anyone would be surprised that I agree about the classmates.

  98. Milo, you might also like the British sitcom The Good Life (shown as Good Neighbors on PBS) which is on Prime, and All Creatures Great and Small, which was and may still be on Netflix.

  99. Corollary question to Lauren’s about weighted GPA: Do your kids’ schools have multiple valedictorians?

    It’s gotten to be, IMO, a joke around here, when you go to graduation and there are something like 20 valedictorians.

    I was once at a career day at local CoE, talking to students who were giving me their resumes. I remember looking at two kids in a row, and both of them listed HS valedictorian on their resumes. From the same HS, same year.

    Following Ada’s point yesterday about Harvard rejecting kids with perfect SAT scores, I can also see how they can fill their entire class with valedictorians.

  100. Mooshi – have you tried going to a person who does active release type stuff? Not really a massage because it can be quite painful, but they can help get the gravelly, tight stuff on your foot loosened up, and also work on your calves and hamstrings, which are often part of the problem.

  101. I wish I’d said something like Scarlett did, about how these things (exercise, etc) can go in stages according to your life stage. When kids are younger, scheduling anything like this is so much more difficult, as is finding the extra energy to do it. I totally agree that in those young-kid stages, if a busy parent is given the choice b/w a run and enough sleep, sleep should win.

    There will be a life stage where you can easily leave the kids alone while you work out, and it tends to correspond with the stage where you’re getting enough sleep, and can therefore muster up the energy to actually do it.

  102. Kid’s school mentions unweighted GPA for honors. They give a conversion table with both weighted and unweighted GPA with a one point difference. I think it is probably unweighted. They would probably say take the hardest class etc.
    How many APs do good students end up taking ? Don’t say all 25 that are offered :-)

  103. @Lauren — we have both weighted and unweighted. Classes have potential “quality points’ of 4 (standard), 5 (honors), or 6 (AP). But not all classes have a higher option. For ex., gym is regular 4.0. Band is usually 4.0, but it has an honors/5.0 option if you add on extra stuff (kids go to the same band class but also try out for county band, do a small ensemble on the side, etc.). DD’s PLTW class is rated as a 5.0, which has PO’d some parents (it’s basically 5 engineering classes in 4 years and is very appealing to totebag-type parents, so of course we all think our snowflakes shouldn’t be penalized by taking engineering instead of another AP).

    I do think it helps kids like DD — she’s pulling a B in bio now, and that frustrates her, but it’s still a 5.0, which reflects that she’s tackling a harder curriculum. OTOH, she chose the “less work” option for band, and so she deserves to max out below the kids who chose to take on more.

  104. Cordelia & Benefits Lawyer — Best wishes on your kids’ decisions, and I hope the process isn’t stressing them out.

    Lauren, I’m surprised your school does not offer extra weight to honors and AP classes. That mostly affects their ranking, which your school may not do. In any case, many if not most colleges “unweigh” high school GPAs because they vary so much.

    “How many APs do good students end up taking ? Don’t say all 25 that are offered “

    Umm, some may come close. Top colleges generally expect at least 3-4, and many students who are admitted take 9 or more IME.

    And yes, I agree that sleep takes priority over exercise! It seems every week I read something new about how important sleep is to our general health.

  105. The question “why take honors, and AP math classes if the HS does not weight the classes for the GPA.” was asked above.

    1. So that a kid who is good at math doesn’t die of boredom in inappropriate math classes
    2. So that the kid can take AP calculus, thus earning college credit early and possibly either saving money or allowing the kid to get to more interesting math in college earlier.
    3. Top science and engineering programs prefer that students take AP math in high school.

  106. Thanks frequent lurker. I am seeing the doctor tomorrow. One thing, though – I read that the cortisone shots can make it more likely to cause rupture. I wouldn’t want that!! I also hate the idea of having to do PT again. It was such a time sink for so little payoff. I don’t have that kind of time right now. Even though I chose a facility close to my house, by the time I drove there, waited for the therapist, waited in between finishing exercises, waited for the equipment – I would always be there for an hour. It was very stressful. If I could just get a list of the stupid exercises, I could do them at home in half the time!

  107. Mooshi,

    When I was rehabbing from my shoulder surgery last year, I had to shop around a bit to find a PT that didn’t double book, which is how most of them work these days. They work with one patient while they shout instructions to another patient (or two) across the gym without making sure you are actually doing the exercises correctly. You could just go to an initial appointment where you get the one-on-one attention the full time, and then just work on your own on the exercises they give you and not go back.

  108. Lauren, does your district restrict access to honors/AP as tightly as ours does?

    Horrible discovery this year: they changed the eligibility for honors ELA and social studies so that they now only count the first two quarters. Kids have to have a 95 or above in the first two quarters to be allowed to go on to honors SS and ELA, or 92 to 94 and pass an entrance test. A kid with a 90 in the first two quarters isn’t even ALLOWED to take the entrance test.

    My DS2, the one who loves history, who went to the national history bee finals last year, got a 90 over those 2 quarters and is now off the honors/AP track in history. I am livid. This is a kid who had very high averages in SS over the last several years, but who was being transitioned off some support services (he is hearing impaired) during those same two quarters, and stumbled a little (he missed a couple of assignments). But even without that kind of excuse, I just find it unfathomable that a kid with a 90 average, or even say an 85, wouldn’t be encouraged to try honors SS.

    They tell the parents that the kids can always get back into the AP track later on. I called the high school principal 2 weeks ago, though, and pinned him down on the number who do this. He had to admit that it is very few who manage it, and, he said, it almost never happens in math or science.

    So the top schools may want to see students take all possible APs, but they may not be aware that a given applicant didn’t take a particular AP simply because of a stumble as a 13 year old that kept him or her off the track.

  109. “How many APs do good students end up taking ? Don’t say all 25 that are offered “

    DS tries to take an AP class every time it’s offered. The only non-AP classes he has this year are his foreign language and PE.

  110. “DD’s PLTW class is rated as a 5.0, which has PO’d some parents (it’s basically 5 engineering classes in 4 years and is very appealing to totebag-type parents, so of course we all think our snowflakes shouldn’t be penalized by taking engineering instead of another AP).”

    What type of class credit does your DD receive? I’ve read criticism of PLTW, where essentially it is an “engineering appreciation” curriculum and lacks an underpinning of real math. In fact, at a friend’s (affluent) HS, only a low level of math is a prerequisite for PLTW and students receive credit toward their art requirement. It sounds as if your school may be doing it differently.

    PLTW is Project Lead The Way, a STEM curriculum that apparently takes many forms depending on where it’s implemented. https://www.pltw.org/

  111. 1. So that a kid who is good at math doesn’t die of boredom in inappropriate math classes

    So no easy A’s. Every effort must be made to ensure the kid is working to the absolute limits of his/her ability at every moment?

  112. Yes, they restrict access. It’s extremely difficult to get into most APs except if there is just one teacher and that teacher isn’t great.

    They have a rubric, and it can include many criteria. They added the PSAT score as a criteria for some APs for next year. Parents flipped saying the PSAT should absolutely not count since some kids want to take it cold, and it isn’t a state wide test. They still have it in there, but parents are fighting back.

  113. Some kids take one or two AP courses junior year, then load up in their senior year, where the courses count towards “number of APs taken,” but the grades aren’t included in the GPA submitted with the application. So if they get B’s instead of A’s in those courses, no worries.
    I think that’s a huge loophole, but there it is.

  114. Lauren – I wish our school would look at the PSAT – that would *help* my oldest kid…

  115. Mooshi – that is ridiculous. I would be livid. Good luck being the squeaky wheel who gets that policy changed!!!!

  116. DD took 6 of the 7 APs her school offered. DS will have taken 7, but his school offers 12 (counting all foreign languages as 1). Kids getting into top 20 schools from his school have typically taken at least 8. The kid who got into Stanford EA took 12 (some online) and a couple post-AP classes (multi variable calc and language 5).

  117. @CoC — too early to tell. Our setup is:

    Grade 9 – Introduction to Engineering Design (IED)
    Grade 10 – Digital Electronics (DE)
    Grade 11 – Principles of Engineering (POE)
    – “Specialization Course” (i.e. Aerospace Engineering – AE)
    Grade 12 – Engineering Design and Development (EDD) “Capstone Course”

    It is one credit-hour per class, the same as the other regular classes (so two credits in 11th grade when they double up), and I think it counts toward the math or science minimums for graduation.

    I don’t know what the minimum standards were for entry — the kids had to be in the honors classes, submit an application, and go through interviews, and they “sold” it as college-prep engineering stuff, not fluffy basket-weaving versions. But I honestly think they put in those requirements largely to signal that the class is prestigious and meant for college-level kids and wasn’t the new vo-tech (there is a separate curriculum that’s what I consider the modern vo-tech, with things like “learn how to be a database administrator”). Whether it actually requires higher-level math and is highly substantive, I don’t know — they say it’s integrated with the math/science curriculum, but what does that mean? Our advanced math curriculum doubles up in 10th grade in order to get calc in 11th and either calc BC or stats in 12th; give, that PLTW is an honors-level class and not AP/GT, I doubt they’d require kids to be on that track. But they may schedule more math-intensive work in 11th and 12th to let the kids get through the math classes first (or at least contemporaneously).

    But who cares? It’s an elective! DD is already taking AP/GT level math/science/English/SS, including the requisite two math classes next year to fit in two AP math exams. She has plenty of hard-core stuff to do (and that doesn’t even count things like band and Spanish, which require lots of practice). So if she is excited to use her remaining elective period to build bridges out of straws instead of drawing pictures or doing photography, more power to her.

  118. @RMS- interesting read, thanks for sharing. Wish someone would address the cost of test strips too – that seems a bigger barrier to good diabetes care for many patients.

  119. I think you should appeal. I hope your school has this process, but I know that many schools with limited access to honors and AP classes have an appeal process. You might just have to be the squeaky wheel unless they really won’t allow an appeal.

    The reason we pushed for the math meeting last night in the district to include grades 4 – 8 is because there is not enough transparency around the process and parents don’t realize that their kids might be stepping off the track for honors or AP math and science classes in the HS if they don’t place into honors or accelerated 7th grade math.

  120. I don’t anticipate dealing with AP restrictions with any amount of grace or tolerance. Children who want to do more challenging work should be given an opportunity. This is why I feel we are slowly marching toward home school on our house.

    Also, @MM – top engineering and science schools don’t care if your kid took AP calculus in high school. They are perfectly happy with you having multi variate calculus at your local community college.

  121. Website suggests our school theoretically offers 29 AP classes (28 taught last year).

    We will not be setting records in this household.

  122. Some of you have mentioned online APs (if I understand correctly). Is this because it was in a subject/area your child was interested in, but the school didn’t offer it ? Does the school have to approve and how does it tie into their reporting of grades ?

  123. My son’s school offers about a dozen APs. He was telling us this week that the AP Spanish teacher was restricting who could take the placement test to try to get into the class. She was only allowing students with Spanish surnames. So is Dominican friend who happens to be black, was not allowed to take the test, even though his family speak Spanish at home. The same for a fair skinned girl whose family speak Spanish at home but does not have a Spanish surname. When I asked him if his friend was going to appeal or protest, he said his friend realized he disliked the teacher so much that she was probably doing him a favor. But if I were the parents of those kids, I would be furious.

    My son is in only one AP, US history. The other history class is doing a lot of research type projects that appeal to him much more than what the AP class is doing, so he regrets that decision. Next year, he is more interested in doing dual credit than AP, but we will see how it works out

  124. She was only allowing students with Spanish surnames.

    Some days I just don’t know what the hell is going on in the world.

  125. @RMS – I suspect that the teacher is evaluated on the number of students that take and pass the Ap). Unless your question was rhetorical.

  126. Ada, my guess would be that the teacher is doing “enrollment management” to reduce the number of students she has to deal with. She is just doing it in a particularly egregious and offensive manner.

  127. Louise, the way my daughter’s school handles online AP classes:

    DD accesses the classes on computers in the counselor’s office during two classes periods. The classes show up on her transcript and she gets credit for them. She started taking online classes a few years ago after a particularly abusive meeting with a teacher, the principal, DH, her and I. Other students are taking online classes in the same fashion.

    Other schools in the county allow kids to do likewise, which is how I discovered the option. In addition, some students take community college classes in lieu of regular classes at school. Some schools allow an extra grade point for the college classes, but DD’s school doesn’t,

  128. I’m wondering why so many restrictions are placed on entry or testing into AP classes. Is there a scarcity of teachers capable of teaching those classes?

    Again, hearing these complaints makes me appreciate my kids’ school, where the barrier to entry is much lower, and there’s more encouragement for kids who are on the fence to try the harder course, whether AP or honors, with the school facilitating a transfer to the non-honors/AP class if the kid finds it too hard. There’s also a well-defined path into the honors/AP math track for kids who missed the middle school entry point (summer school geometry).

  129. I’m wondering why so many restrictions are placed on entry or testing into AP classes. Is there a scarcity of teachers capable of teaching those classes?

    I’m wondering the same thing. My kids aren’t in HS yet so I don’t how their school does it, but back in my day, it was simply by teacher recommendations.

  130. I think some of the public schools here had the opposite problem. They were encouraged to create lots of AP classes and push kids into them, some of whom were not ready for or not capable of that level of work. There was a lot of bragging and publicity about how many AP classes there were, and how many kids took those classes, but the AP test results were often less than stellar, or many kids in those classes didn’t take the tests.

    However, for many of those schools, getting there was, overall, a positive step. It created better options for the kids who could handle it, and it seems that in many cases gave kids something higher, yet reachable, to which to aspire. I think it’s better to offer those classes and have the kids find out whether or not they can handle them, than to not offer them. It would be interesting to see whether the test results trend upward over time.

    Thus, I’m puzzled as to why schools would set the bar of entry so high.

  131. The more kids that are in a class, the more kids a teacher has to deal with. If a teacher can restrict entry into their class to decrease its size from 30 to 20, they drop their workload substantially.

    At my kids’ school, one way the teacher managed her class size was to assign a massive summer homework project that had to be turned in on a specific day, in a specific room. The work was never graded, but it sufficed to keep a number of kids out of the AP class.

  132. But if the AP classes are kept small, doesn’t that mean the non-AP classes are larger? I’d think that dividing kids between AP and non-AP classes is a zero sum game.

    I’m wondering if there is a perception (and perhaps even a reality) that teaching AP classes requires more work on the part of the teachers than teaching non-AP classes.

  133. In this area, tightly restricting access to AP is a tradition, and lets the schools brag how competitive they are. While I am not an advocate of having all kids take AP (which is a movement in some areas of the country), the reality is that virtually every kid in our high performing school that has managed to get B’s or better, in some cases even C’s, is going to do fine in the honors classes that lead up to the APs. And the fact that they track so early, and based on so little data, is just stupid and IMHO, keeps out some of the best students.

  134. I have one theory about what happens in our school. The two most tightly restricted classes, AP Global, and honors ELA, are controlled by two teachers each. They pretty much do what they want – in fact, AP Global has turned into a disaster with kids fleeing like rats because it no longer prepares kids well for the AP test – and I think they don’t want any other teachers involved. That is my nasty, cynical theory anyway. I wonder if that happens at other schools.

  135. At my kids’ school, if the kids don’t take AP Calc, they don’t have another math option, so they don’t take math as seniors, and that decreases the workload. If they don’t take AP English, they take 11th or 12th grade English from another teacher, where there is little writing or reading assigned. Not too much work for the teacher to grade.

    Each additional kid taking an AP class is just more work for the teacher.

  136. This is all interesting. I was in AP classes in the dark ages, apparently, but part of what happened in our school was tracking. If you had previously taken Spanish 1-4, you qualified to take AP Spanish (which was Spanish 5.) Effectively this weeded out a lot of people who didn’t want to take language throughout high school, but if you hung in there and wanted to do AP, you could. AP Calculus was available to anyone who finished pre-calculus, but that led to natural attrition and weeding. For some reason my school required a regular science course before the AP science course, so I suppose they figured there was some weeding there. Hate Chemistry? Don’t take AP Chem. The bigger issues were how the calendar was put together (no AP US history if you are in band because they’re taught at the same time sort of thing) and people just opting out of it being so exhausting.

  137. “A lot of my work used to involve phone calls, and I would often pace around the room when I was on the phone just because it was easier for me to focus on the conversation when I was moving.”

    Tulip – I thought I was the only one who did this! My husband always makes fun of me for it. I do it at work too when I can (e.g., conference call, closed office door or working from home).

  138. At my kids’ school, if the kids don’t take AP Calc, they don’t have another math option, so they don’t take math as seniors, and that decreases the workload. If they don’t take AP English, they take 11th or 12th grade English from another teacher, where there is little writing or reading assigned. Not too much work for the teacher to grade.

    Each additional kid taking an AP class is just more work for the teacher.

    You just said yourself that students not taking AP English are in other classes, so it’s still more work for the non-AP teacher, even if the amount of work is less than in the AP class. And I’m assuming kids who don’t take AP Calc are taking some other class even if it’s not math.

    In your school, do the individual teachers get to restrict who takes the AP classes, or is it done by school policy as in Mooshi’s school?

  139. The individual teachers get to restrict who takes AP classes, and seniors don’t have to take seven classes, they can take as few as five.

  140. There is no downside to taking the AP tests, other than the time it takes, but selective colleges are increasingly refusing to award college credit even for high scores.

  141. RMS – thank you, interesting article. My DD started on the Dexcom G5 CGM about 6 weeks ago. It has data sharing in the cloud, probably thanks to these parent’s hacks, and it is truly life changing for us. My alarm goes off at 2:30am, I check my phone and if she is in range I go back to sleep without leaving the bed. I’ve been trying to back way off even before getting the CGM since she only has 1.5 years until she goes off to college, and this makes it easier.

    Ada – absolutely right about cost of test strips, which are about $1 each w/o insurance and I have to fight to get enough to accurately monitor her. Type 1s should be checking a minimum of 8 to 10 times a day and my DD checks about 12. It is directly correlated to her maintaining her target A1C. Should be better with the CGM but my out of pocket costs for that with insurance are in the few thousand a year. Plus you need an iphone for the child to enable the sharing feature. I say a prayer of gratitude every day that she has good insurance and I have a good job to pay for the out of pocket costs.

  142. If I understand correctly – you don’t need the AP test results to graduate or be considered in the college application. You just need to take and do well in the class ?
    The entire concept of getting into college before the end of school is odd to me because I had to wait for the state exam results before applying to college.

  143. “In this area, tightly restricting access to AP is a tradition, and lets the schools brag how competitive they are.”

    One HS: We are so competitive, we only have 12 AP classes and only let 20 kids into each of those classes.

    ” virtually every kid in our high performing school that has managed to get B’s or better, in some cases even C’s, is going to do fine in the honors classes that lead up to the APs.”

    Other HS: We are so competitive, over 50% of our students take, and pass, AP classes.

    Which sounds more competitive? And who are they competing against?

    The first sounds like they pit their kids against each other. The second sounds like they are trying to make their kids competitive against kids from other schools.

  144. Finn, you are totally making sense. I have no idea why the tradition. Somehow it makes the administrators and teachers feel good.

  145. “you don’t need the AP test results to graduate or be considered in the college application.”

    I think that varies depending on HS policy.

    At my kids’ school, students in AP classes are required to take the AP exams (but the parents need to spring for the testing fees, and parents/kids are responsible for registering for the exams) . I believe their final grade is their AP exam score, e.g., 5=A, 4=B, etc.

  146. “Finn, you are totally making sense. I have no idea why the tradition. Somehow it makes the administrators and teachers feel good.”

    My sense is that a lot of the bullies in high school draw paychecks.

  147. Mooshi, your HS powers make me think of Belle in Beauty and the Beast: “There must be more than this provincial life.”

    Sounds like it’s largely about bragging rights within the school.

    And I almost forgot:

    One school: Because our AP enrollment is so tightly controlled, very few of our students get accepted into HSS.

    Other school: Because over 50% of our students take and pass AP classes, many of our students get into top colleges.

  148. The thing is, it isn’t just our district. Look back at Lauren’s post. Her district is close to mine. This is a Westchester tradition. I wouldn’t be surprised if the wealthy districts in Fairfield and Long Island do the same.

  149. “selective colleges are increasingly refusing to award college credit even for high scores.”

    But passing AP exams is not without its benefits.

    At some schools, having passed AP exams for required classes frees students from those requirements and thus creates opportunities for more electives, or makes more possible things like double majoring or getting a minor.

  150. Mooshi, Lauren, I seem to recall reading here that not a lot of kids from your districts go to the very top schools, e.g., HYSPM or Caltech.

    I guess I’m seeing one reason for that.

  151. “A lot of my work used to involve phone calls, and I would often pace around the room when I was on the phone just because it was easier for me to focus on the conversation when I was moving.”

    A former boss would wander all through the office while on calls on his cordless phone, going from room to room and sometimes even out into the warehouse, appearing quite focused on his calls, and oblivious to everyone and everything else.

  152. I have no doubt that MM’s son belongs in the AP class, and if it were me I would fight hard on this. When this happened to me, the school backed down, but came back with vague threats that my snowflake could end up flunking out.

    That being said, i don’t think most B/C+ students should take AP courses, particularly considering the grade inflation I’ve seen. One valid argument for carefully restricting admission to AP classes is that the course work becomes diluted when more unprepared/unmotivated students are admitted. As was pointed out, many schools have open admission policies. This policy is spurred partly by the method of HS ratings used by BusinessWeek and others. The main criteria is percentage of students who take AP classes and not by AP scores. In fact, most of these schools do not require AP students to take AP tests. IMO, all this helps contribute to lowered standards.

  153. ” was in AP classes in the dark ages”

    RMS, just curious, did you take, or have the option to take, AP classes when you were in HS?

  154. In our area, many parents moved their kids (via test scores and lottery) to the magnet IB program in middle school. That puts them on a separate IB track from the area high schools and the AP track. I think the probably know of or anticipate the restrictions around getting into AP classes. From talking to a few high schoolers the problem in our large high schools is scheduling so a student who is unaware might find themselves in a drafting class with no particular interest in said class.

  155. “At some schools, having passed AP exams for required classes frees students from those requirements”

    This. I am closer to Rocky’s era, and I had one AP option, and that was only because I was pulled aside by my advanced chem teacher who told me I should take the test. My alma mater granted no credit for it but at least allowed me to skip the dreaded Chem 10 intro class and go right into more interesting stuff.

    On the phone thing: one awesome memory of DD at about 4-5 was when she first started talking on the phone with grandparents, and she would pace very intently around the house (not in an aimless/wandering way, but like she had somewhere to be and a job to do). I realized she was mimicking me — I guess she thought that pacing was just What One Did when talking on the phone. And I of course picked it up from my dad.

  156. Ivy– I suspect we’re not alone! (And this explains a lot of why I was fidgety at certain times in school. I also listen better if I’m knitting or drawing than just sitting still and listening.) I work from home though. I’m not walking the halls and disrupting other people with my conversations!

  157. CoC, you may be right about the actual AP courses (though they are highly variable in their difficulty, really), but I am thinking more about the 9th grade honors courses. Those are the gateway to AP, but are honestly not super hard. I very much think that those courses should be opened up more, because 13 year olds change a lot, and a 13 year old who gets a 88 in ELA can easily be the kid with a 95 by 10th grade.

  158. LfB– Was you dad a very early adopter of cordless phones?

    When I was growing up, walking around while on the phone was limited to about 1.5 steps from the phone.

    Our phone was next to the kitchen table. My mom would always know when I had been on the phone, because things on the table would be stacked into a tower.

  159. @Finn — funny, I thought of that — we always sort of wandered within the length of the phone cord, which I remember by HS being around 6′. But my memories of him are also wandering around while brushing his teeth, or running the cordless shaver, etc.

  160. CoC, the way around that lowering of standards is to require taking the AP exams, and basing the course grade on those exams.

    DS will be pretty busy in early May. Three AP exams, and on the Saturday in the middle of the AP exams, he’ll take three SAT subject tests. They won’t all be on the same subjects, either.

  161. “basing the course grade on those exams”

    Around here the scores come out too late for that.

  162. Finn, at weaker schools, basing the course grade on the exam would put C’s or D’s or F’s on the transcripts of many top students. Your school’s approach works because it is a private school with capable students and teachers and parents who can afford the AP exam fees.

    Offering AP classes is much harder where there aren’t enough truly qualified students to fill a class. On-line AP is a good option, but I suspect the feedback provided (not just grading, but comments and ideas for improvement) is less good than what is available at your school. It seems like on-line AP takes away from the friendships that make AP classes fun. I didn’t enjoy my AP classes because I found learning the material necessarily fascinating- I enjoyed the process of solving problems with peers.

  163. “basing the course grade on the exam would put C’s or D’s or F’s on the transcripts of many top students.”

    Perhaps that suggests that they are not actually top students.

  164. They are top students at their schools, and as a society, we have decided that is what’s important for competitive admissions in many cases. (Texas comes to mind here.) You’ve read Coming Apart, right?

  165. “Offering AP classes is much harder where there aren’t enough truly qualified students to fill a class. ”

    And raises the question of whether it makes sense to offer an AP class.

    In that situation, it may make sense to lower the standards and not require the AP exam, with perhaps some path, perhaps voluntary and individualized, for those qualified and motivated enough to take the exam. It then becomes a semantic question of whether to call it an AP class or not.

  166. Finn, yes, Paly High in the 70s had AP classes and AP exams. You usually only took a few, though. I took AP English Lit (English Language was also offered, but I didn’t care), US History, and Spanish Lit (not language, though the Lit exam was in Spanish and your answers had to be in Spanish. ) There was much more specialization, I think, because my Silicon Valley engineer friends just took Calc AB and BC, maybe AP physics, and AP chemistry, which was a bear and was 90 minutes a day 5 days a week. No other class was like that. And back then even the top schools would give credit for a 4 or a 5. The lower tier schools would give credit for a 3.

  167. Finn–to some degree, your score depends on the quality of your teacher and whether they teach to the test. So you’d be giving Ds and Fs to kids because they had crappy teachers.
    DDs APUSH teacher comes to mind–she just didn’t teach the stuff on the test. DD and a few friends self studied and got 5s, but the majority of the class got 2s. And they were all good students with 2200+ SATs. So….no.

  168. Thanks, RMS. I was wondering if my HS’ lack of AP offerings was because AP hadn’t been created yet, or just because my HS didn’t offer it. Your post makes it clear it was the latter.

  169. I took AP English in high school, however it wasn’t until I got to college that I learned that there was an AP test that you could get college credit for. Needless to say, I didn’t take the AP test.

    I second Anonymous’s comment about the crappy teachers. The Spanish teacher at my kids’ school has NEVER had a nonnative Spanish speaking pass the AP Spanish test.

  170. Finn – I’m a couple of years older than RMS and from the other side of the bay. My HS had many APs: French, Spanish, Latin, 2 calcs, Physics, Chem, 2 Englishes, US History, World History come to mind. Like Tulip I did the Spanish 1-4 + AP.

  171. 1980 in KY, we had AP Calculus, AP English and AP Physics. I believe we were one of the very few public HSs in KY with calculus. AP Phyiscs was a joke and no one took the test

  172. “At some schools, having passed AP exams for required classes frees students from those requirements”

    Lots of schools still give AP credits. But it’s a trend among more selective colleges to require that all of the x number of credits required for graduation be taken on that college campus, not in a high school classroom. So you might place out of Intro to Chem, but that would not get you out of your science requirement. It would just allow you to take an advanced Chem class.

    DH’s standard advice to freshman who took AP Calc is to take the first-level calculus course again, unless they are positive that they aren’t interested in a major with serious math requirements. Many (most?) high school math teachers were not math majors, the quality of the programs is extremely variable, and his observation over the years is that the students who placed out of calc did not perform as well in his courses (which have several calc prerequisites) as those who retook the course during their freshman year. He feels strongly enough on this point that all of our kids retook calc as freshmen, even though their teachers all had PhDs in math.

    One reason that colleges put so much emphasis on AP courses is that the rest of the offerings at many larger schools are really a joke, with trendy titles and very little rigor.

  173. “One reason that colleges put so much emphasis on AP courses is that the rest of the offerings at many larger schools are really a joke, with trendy titles and very little rigor.”

    At smaller schools too.

  174. We give credit if the AP score is 4 or higher

    When my DH was teaching at a selective SLAC, he observed that many of the students who had taken AP calculus had trouble even when they repeated calculus I on their campus. Many university math professors think little of the AP calculus curriculum

  175. “But it’s a trend among more selective colleges to require that all of the x number of credits required for graduation be taken on that college campus, not in a high school classroom.”

    At a HSS with which I am familiar, one requirement for graduation is to have paid for a the number of credits required for graduation. And I know this goes back at least to the late 70s, when a former coworker found out he had enough credits, but not enough paid credits, to get his degree.

  176. I will also note that I think AP Psychology may not be very rigorous. I have had several examples of students who scored high enough to get the credit at our school, but who could not write a coherent English sentence.

  177. “When my DH was teaching at a selective SLAC, he observed that many of the students who had taken AP calculus had trouble even when they repeated calculus I on their campus.”

    I’ve read that a HSS stopped giving AP credit when they gave the course final exam to students who’d met their (previous) AP credit threshold score, but did miserably on the course final.

    I’ve also heard that some schools will also use SAT subject tests results, in addition to AP test results, for placement, sometimes out of certain requirements.

  178. AP Psychology is probably the easiest AP class offered at our HS. And regular/academic psychology is a joke, IMO.

  179. CoC, AP Psychology is the “consolation AP”, which students can take without any entrance requirements. It allows our district to claim a high rate of AP participation while strictly limiting access to the important AP courses.

  180. Hmm, Scarlett, Mooshi, good point about repeating classes, or not placing out, especially for foundational classes. I’ll suggest to DS that he talk to some of his older friends about their experiences before he does that. I’m pretty sure he will, at the very least, consider it; he’s already tested out of a couple classes in HS to free up a slots for other classes (e.g., two sciences next year).

  181. I remember psych 100 being a really soft class in college. It was self-paced; you read a chapter, then took the exam. Some kids finished the class in the first couple weeks of the semester; others procrastinated, and the test center was a madhouse at the ends of semesters.

  182. I never heard of AP Human Geography until I started reading applications, but it seems like another consolation AP, along with Statistics. MM, what say you about the AP Computer Science courses?

  183. “I never heard of AP Human Geography until I started reading applications”

    I’m guessing that Someone Who Used to Post Her A Lot would know about this class.

  184. We’re just starting to see kids who have taken AP CS (because it was rarely offered in NY until a couple of years ago), and they have all been really good. As it expands, though, I question whether schools will be able to hire teachers with enough expertise to teach at that level

  185. Scarlett, I took AP AB Com Sci in 1992 and it was better than any of the Com Sci classes I took getting my com sci minor at Land Grant U. That was mostly because of the most-excellent data structures and algorithms text that my AP teacher chose.

  186. There is a new AP CS, though, which I consider rather squishy. It is called AP Computing Principles and is supposed to be the course you take before the real AP CS. The problem is, it doesn’t align with any known college CS course so no one can give credit for it.

  187. The problem in my district has to do with schedule, budget, class size, and teaching to the appropriate level of the students in the class. The 9th- 12th grades in my HS range from 125 to 175 students. Assume that every child in 11th grade is going to take an English course. My district still offers co taught and/or special ed ELA in HS. That might be 10- 20% of the grade by the time they get to HS vs. 25% in middle school. They have to run that section, and a couple of regular sections. They run an honors section, and one AP. It isn’t more work for a teacher because they basically teach the same curriculum each year. The problem is that the district doesn’t have the money or time to run extra AP English sections. They need that money and time to run other APs in other subjects. My district offers criminal justice AP or something like that with 6 (!!!!) students this year. Kids didn’t fight to get into AP US history because of similar reasons that Mooshi mentions This course has so much reading, and this is going to be the same in most districts in the US. The teacher in this course in my district is really bad, and she doesn’t curve even though these are the best students in the grade. They worry about their overall GPA since there is no weight, and they end up in a regular or standard honors social studies instead. Since these micro districts only have so many teachers, and they want to offer a lot of AP topics – they restrict the number of kids that can be in the one AP english class that they offer. They generally run the most popular APs such as English and Latin with large class sizes of 32 – 34. They try to keep most classes at 22- 25 students. They can’t open additional Latin sections because they have one Latin teacher and he also teaches at the middle school.

    Also, they are worried about how kids will perform in the classroom and on the test. They don’t want a bunch of kids that will slow down the class, or diminish class discussions if they really don’t belong in the class. There is so little differentiation or tracking except for co taught in grades k – 8. It is finally a chance for some of these kids to be with their true peers in an ELA class.

    My district sends a bill to parents of children that take AP classes. If you register and remain in the class through Jan, you are required to sit for the AP exam. If you can’t afford it, the district or PTA will pay for the AP exam. In a neighboring district, this expense is part of the budget so they don’t want every kid to be in the AP class if they can’t complete the material.

  188. I looked at the APs offered by my kid’s school and they seem to be the more traditional APs ( though there is Computing and Engineering). I saw Economics, Statistics and Psychology. Other than that there are Math, Science (including Envirnomental Science), History (US, World), English and Foreign Language. There is higher level art and music and seems to be for kids interested in taking those subjects in college.

  189. Here there was a magazine article with a description of each private school. The top (by reputation, no rankings were provided) private schools had provided the number of APs offered and the percentage of students scoring 3+ in APs. None of the other private schools had chosen to provide this.

  190. ‘DH’s standard advice to freshman who took AP Calc is to take the first-level calculus course again, unless they are positive that they aren’t interested in a major with serious math requirements.”

    This is great advice. For oldest DS, AP Calc provided a decent foundation for calculus in college, and his college calculus provided the foundation for all his subsequent advanced math. He would not have been ready had he skipped the first level calculus class. His honors college required all credits for your major had to come from the college, and once you had gotten an A or B in a class, they would “honorize” the AP credit, and give you credit toward the honors college requirements, but not toward your major, if that makes sense. So, although he got a 4 on AP physics AB and BC, he still took physics in college because it was required for his major. His additional honors credit went toward the honors college requirements, which basically allowed him to graduate from the honors college in engineering in 4 years, which isn’t easy to do otherwise.

    It was never our goal to use AP credit to shorten the number of years our guys spend in college. Around here, many people use AP credit to graduate in 3 years and save the additional year of tuition and fees.

  191. I took Calc in college after I took AB Calc in high school. It really clicked for me in college. I remember having a tough time focusing on it in HS since I had other APs and college apps. Plus the typical senior year of fun. I just couldn’t get into Calc in HS and it was so much easier in college since it was a mini repeat.

  192. I took AP Bio in high school and got a five on the test. I was required to retake it in college. I was a little pissed about this, but it was actually a very good introduction to how a college course works, in a setting where I had good command of the basic information.

    I took calculus in high school and I think I got a three on the test. This was adequate for all the schools who acquired calculus for medical school matriculation. I took no math classes in college.

Comments are closed.