Category Archives: Life with Lauren

When to Take an AP Class

The pros and cons of taking an AP course

By Lauren Penington


Academic Rigor

When enrolling for classes you need to not only consider what will be beneficial to your learning, but what will look good on a transcript. Colleges are more likely to be impressed by a student willing to push themselves in advanced classes. You will get a more in-depth understanding of the subject matter and be able to boost your GPA.


Because AP classes demonstrate academic rigor and can result in a higher GPA, they can give you an opportunity to qualify for grants and scholarships. If you score above a 3 on the end of year exam, many colleges and universities will accept the test as college credit. This allows you a head start on that area and getting a few credits out of the way. However, if the AP class pertains to your major, beware. Many schools recommend you do not skip classes dealing with your area of study lest you forget material, fall behind, or lack significant knowledge necessary for the higher level classes. 


Taking a more in-depth class, especially one relating to your potential career, will help you in the transition to college. You will be at an advantage by already having a background in the information. It will certainly make the transition easier and allow you time to gain stable footing in your new college life.


Challenging Coursework

If you struggle in school, AP classes may not be the best choice. They require a significant amount of commitment — both in and out of school hours. Projects, tests, and lessons found in normal classes are mirrored in AP courses to a more advanced degree. Be prepared to dedicate hours to studying and homework for each course.

Challenging Areas

For example if you do not enjoy chemistry, it is for the best that you do not enroll in AP Chemistry. The subject matter may be more difficult or less interesting, hurting your performance in the class. Just because an AP class looks impressive does not mean that colleges will rank an C in one over an A in a regular course. 

Rubric Grading

The final exam is based on a rubric. This may be appealing to some, but for others, not so much. It can be difficult to showcase your ability while maintaining the guidelines set. Furthermore, the questions on the exam are randomized but can lean heavily toward one area of the subject. Even if you are solid on the rest of them test, if the test is centered around your weakest unit, it can deter your score.

Toxic Standards

The effect of portraying disturbing characteristics as desirable, persisting in movies and delineated by men, on society

By Lauren Penington

80’s movies hold their charm and popularity in today’s society. However, a good portion of these retro films hold a worrisome amount of rape culture properties that have managed to assimilate themselves into society’s most revered characteristics. Stalkers, rapists, and haressers are praised for their disgusting behavior; getting the girl and setting a disturbing standard.

What passes for love is truly mediocrity, urged along by the presence of troubling factors in the media, namely the acceptance of trash as treasure, the acceptance of lackluster men as paragons. Due to these character traits displayed on the big screens, people have welcomed a new wave of low. Truly concerning aptitudes that reveal themself in the scum of the earth are romanticized to the point that it appears ludicrous not to. This, in turn, not only damages our morals and beliefs, but our perception of the world and thereby our standards and self worth.

For instance, the idea of pursuing the girl until she submits. Critics praise the boy who sticks it out, the boy who waits for the girl to settle for him or suddenly realize her overwhelming love for the underdog. He who respects rejection and doesn’t pursue the girl is an instant joke, seen as a pushover, lacking the balls to continue on his “quest.”

There are several classic cinema examples that ring this warning bell. This isn’t to say that these movies aren’t of quality, but that they hold these troubling themes within them, pushed along into society by the films’ success and popularity.

One of the most prominent that emerges from the mix is Sixteen Candles. Traditionally thought of as a sweet romcom, the movie holds some questionable details within. The entire relationship of our protagonists begins with a drunk fling. After drinking too much, Caroline is sent home with our oh-so-sweet underdog, the Geek. These two get busy, while Caroline is too drunk to consent of course, and afterwards decide that they had fun and are obviously soulmates. Now, we can’t unload all of that… But, in essence, it is this type of portrayal of men in cinema that is so toxic to the general population. The idea that all men have this habitual instinct that can’t be denied, and the further idea that it is sexy. Frankly, there is nothing more disturbing than the idea that men are controlled by an innate desire for sex. Not only is it an untrue theory, but spreading it into the minds of society as a desirable and alluring trait poisons the minds of our youth. People have accepted it as an irrefutable fixture, and both boys and girls seem to be raised on the fact that it is their duty to fulfil.

This can also be seen in Revenge of the Nerds whereupon, yet another nerd, initiates intercourse with the “girl of his dreams.” In this version of the tale, he does so under the guise of being her actual boyfriend – wearing his costume and acting as the persona. After their erotic scene, she removes the nerds mask to display his true identity and decides that it was truly the pair of them that were meant to be, not her and her actual boyfriend and based upon nothing but the mere interaction that had occured moments before.

These are movies that are revered as classics, as “must-sees.” With the sordid details contained within them, this arguably the most provoking fact of all. Why does society continue to lavish praise atop these individuals that commit frankly heinous crimes? The first step is noticing the pattern, which we have found. The next step is breaking it. Break the chain and show the world what love truly is, not these illusory fabrications of life. Be a part of a healthy relationship, based on respect and true love, not a drunken fumble of a creepy, possessive man. No one loves a rapist. No one loves a stalker. Leave the girl alone and find the one that loves you back.

Signing Your Life Away

Deciding your future when you’re still 18

By Lauren Penington

The rational part of our brains are not fully developed and won’t be until around the age of 25. Recent research has, in addition, proved that adult and teenage brains function in different ways.

On October 2nd, I will be attending a college fair. I will walk into another school, in another town, and will try to determine what schools have the most to offer me, which schools will help me grow and succeed in this ever growing and changing world. I am sixteen years old. I am sixteen years old, and I am making decisions that are going to change and effect the course of my entire life.

Most teenagers have no idea what they want to do with their lives. About 80 percent of students in the United States end up changing their major at least once, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In fact, college students change their major at least three times over the course of their college career on average. That is time, and money, wasted due to the indecision that comes with our premature brains.

Why are we obligated to sign our lives away when we are just entering into the world from our, somewhat sheltered, early lives — wherein the true weight of responsibility seems like a fiction that is far from reality and far from the present. Even postponing college for a year, taking gap year of sorts, is beneficial in that it opens your mind to the world and allows you to gain those experiences of the real world. Experiences and knowledge that are beneficial in and out of college, but are a major assist in the reentering of education. If you want to have an effect on the world, you need to see and understand it first. How can you design new systems for foreign countries in need, if not experiencing the need yourself? If not seeing it firsthand? Living life through this filtered view is detrimental to our own understanding of international workings, and also to the world at large.

At the age of 18, you are barely an adult. You do not have the wisdom or experience to make a change. Diving headfirst into the sea of information college provides is a foolhardy decision that can prove fatal to your ambitions — sending you into a shock that may deliver you home. Expose yourself to world. Grow and live before committing to a future. Expectations to choose a college so young, and even as a sophomore or a junior, is a ludicrous system that benefits the few and serves as a class gateway.

Social Anxiety and the Absurdness of Oral Presentations

Why teens should not be required to speak in class
By Lauren Penington

Heart racing, head pounding, face flushing. Social anxiety is a legitimate issue and concern in this modern day society and should be treated as such, as it is a crippling fear that controls our life and cannot be put off to the side when convenient, such as for a speech assignment.
Jenny Bristol, an online author, released an article in 2014 titled “Students Shouldn’t Have to Speak in Front of the Class” and this is an excerpt from that article:
“I hated speaking in front of people then, and I hate doing it now. In between, I hated being called on when my hand wasn’t raised, which some teachers did to try to encourage more participation. But all it succeeded in doing was to make me fear those classes and to be so busy worrying that I wasn’t learning. I hated oral presentations. I hated having to be the spokesperson for group work. I hated anything that caused me to be the center of attention for more than a couple of people at a time.”
Many people dismiss complaints such as these when they are brought up by teenagers, saying “Oh! You’re just shy!” And maybe some people are. I’m not. I am not a shy person. I don’t mind one-on-one conversations, in fact I relish them. It’s when that one person turns into ten, or twenty, or thirty, that I flounder, that I flush and stammer, that my chest clenches, my breath quickens, and my heart pounds. It’s when I stand in front of people that I want to find the nearest hole and crawl into it, merely to escape the hundreds of eyes I can feel boring into me, as I stand in front of the crowd, open and vulnerable to their scrutiny, their judgement. I find myself becoming paranoid, over-analyzing my words, hesitating before I speak, worried that I’ll make a wrong step and everyone will judge me. But with my friends, I’m the opposite, completely outgoing. Let me clear this up. I am not shy, I flourish in small groups, but when the number grows, my confidence and ability to function shrinks until it ceases to exist. I am not shy, I am afraid. I am not shy, I have social anxiety.
And I am not the only one, not by a long shot. One in four teens have social anxiety. One in four. Twenty five percent of teens will at one point develop social anxiety, whether because of their circumstances or experiences, because of their families, or because of the stress in school.
“[Anxiety is caused by a] combination of genetic, environmental, psychological, and developmental factors,” a spokesperson for Psychology Today said.
There is no one answer and no solution that simply “fixes” it for everyone. Whatever the cause may be, the fact still stands that there are many kids, in this school alone, with this same problem. Perhaps problem isn’t the right word. It may be more accurate to use injury. Because that’s what it is. The brain is an organ like any other. It can be damaged, it can contract diseases. We don’t tell someone with asthma that they need to overcome their lungs, they can breathe just fine. We don’t tell an athlete with a broken ankle to work harder and overcome the weakness of their ankle, because they can play just fine already. Like this, we shouldn’t tell someone with social anxiety that they need to overcome the anxiety in their brain to succeed, but by playing it off as shyness, this is exactly what happens.
Social anxiety is not shyness. It’s simply not that easy to brush off, not that simple to overcome. You can’t turn off the pain, you can’t turn off the fear, you can’t turn off the panic, and you shouldn’t be forced to try for the sake of speaking in front of a group of peers who will forget what you say as soon as you walk out the door. Heart is racing, head is pounding, and face flushing. I can feel myself on the verge of a breakdown, teetering on the edge of a cliff. A cliff built on the lie of communication, built the truth of short-term memorization and panic attacks.
So let’s give a shout out. A shout out to the kids who struggle to convey their thoughts because they’re so worried what people will think. A shout out to the kids who can barely roll out of bed in the morning, for fear of what’s coming during the day paralyzes them. And a shout out to the kids having panic attacks in the bathroom because they have to give an oral presentation. Public speaking requirements set forth by the school unnecessarily aggravate the woes of social anxiety in teens and set a precedent of constant anxiety in those teens. People shouldn’t be forced to speak in front of people — if it isn’t something we are truly passionate about and something that will last beyond the classroom walls, it isn’t worth the repercussions forced oral presentations bring with them.