As freshman are choosing their classes for next year, there is an important decision that determines many things. That decision being whether to choose regular social studies, AP World or AP Euro. Now, regular social studies is just a regents class where you learn the bare minimum about world history and then take the regents like all the other classes at the end of the year. It’s a good choice for those who aren’t that strong in history classes.
Then we come to AP Euro, which is just straight up European history from the Renaissance to the present day. So in this class, one would just learn about history concerning Europe, not anything else. So learning small things like people and dates are very important, which could be difficult for some.
AP World is, as you probably guessed, the study of world history starting at the beginning when caveman started farming, all the way to the present day. You learn everything, every empire, every dynasty, every invention, everything. That may seem daunting, but once one becomes aware that history does tend to repeat itself, memorizing events becomes all the easier.
Alright, so now that you have the synopsis of both classes, which one should you choose? And I’m here to tell you that, as someone who has taken AP World, it really is the better, smarter choice. Firstly, why would someone want to learn strictly about Europe? They haven’t been the hub of the world for the majority of history. To say that Europe was the only place worth learning about because of its golden ages and advancements would fail to recognize the many civilizations that were ahead or Europe for many years, for example, the entirety of the Muslim world that created algebra, numbers and was the cultural center of the world for centuries. Secondly, if you know that that you had to take the global regents at the end of the year and was strictly world history, it makes more sense to take a world history class so you don’t have to cram entire civilizations in your head mere weeks before the exam.
Europe has been the center of the world for centuries, but not always. Other civilizations are equally important. And to understand the globalization, the connection, between other countries its important to have the context of the world and its history, to better understand the way history unfolded. But if you are really passionate about Peter the Great, Henry the VIII, and the year Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, then Euro is for you. Teachers also play into the decision. Mr. McCoullough teaches AP World and Mr. Greenblatt teaches AP Euro. And I’ll let you know that Mr. McCoullough is probably my favorite teacher, ever. Nonetheless, why learn about a portion of the world when you are given a chance to learn about everything in a fun environment? So, freshman, it’s your choice, know that each choice is equal in difficulty and that you will have to take the regents either way, choose wisely.
Why AP Euro is Better than AP World
As the last nervous freshmen attend their scheduling appointments and the hectic time of course selection draws to a close, I can’t help but recall the stress I faced two years ago that intertwined with selecting a history class for sophomore year. I remember the day well; as we filled out which history course we wanted, my teacher conducted a survey.
“Who is taking Global II?” Half of the students raised their hands confidently.
“How about AP World?” The rest of the students around me all raised their hands.
“AP Euro?” Slowly, I raised my hand and was the only one in my class to do so.
This nerve wracking transition from 9th grade to 10th grade history is so important because (in most cases) social studies is the only subject that allows students to take their first college level class. AP European and AP World history are a high school student’s first real taste of the rigorously competitive environment that awaits them later in their academic career. However, only one of the two aforementioned courses has been proven to give students better AP exam results, a deeper understanding of history, and, in my experience, the best learning experience our school has to offer. Despite my initial worries of not being with my friends and being overwhelmed, I learned to manage the workload, make new lasting friendships, and become a better student. AP European history is the best social studies course an incoming sophomore could ever take, and below are all the reasons why.
First, AP Euro focuses on the study of the entire European continent, as well as its relations with the rest of the world. One major deterrent that draws people away from this course is the common misconception that you only learn about kings and queens named Henry and William and Mary, etc. This could not be further from the truth! From Europe flowed the lifeblood of Western society in art, music, literature, government, technology, faith, and even more. Euro covers material from the Renaissance up to the Cold War and everything in between; it goes over important people, places, wars, inventions, and how they all fit into the mind boggling puzzle of human nature overtime. The rich culture and history of Europe is so intriguing and not at all boring as there are so many layers to it.
In this course, the idea of general concepts that are easy to remember and therefore easy to forget is unheard of. Because Euro focuses on one continent, there is so much more room for specific detail, for reading and learning not just for the purpose of passing a test, but for reading the story told through pages of the textbook and by the almost fantastical history of Europe. After taking Euro one will see everything in a new light and be able to read and experience things with a new and extensive knowledge of the past that AP World simply cannot offer students taking it.
Second, Euro is taught by none other than Mr. Greenblatt, one of the most respected and most knowledgeable teachers in Northport High School. Just by spending one day copying down the essays scrawled in chalk onto the brown board at the front of the room and listening to one of his thought-provoking class discussions, one can tell that he is a teacher who knows basically everything there is to know about European history. If there is anything that he doesn’t know, he will look it up and come into class the next day ready to discuss it with you. Never in my experience has he missed school, underprepared his students, or failed to provide an interesting lesson every day. He allows each and every one of his students a fair opportunity to succeed by changing the quizzes, giving different projects that appeal to everyone’s strengths, and relying on you as the student to be prepared and to come to class ready to work. He takes time out of his own life to hold review sessions in the weeks before the AP exam, and gives everyone detailed individual feedback on their questions or thesis statements for free response questions. Among all the intense studying and learning, he works in ways to have fun and be creative, from having heated debates over things like the Corn Laws or the colonization of Africa… to projects where people bring in food to demonstrate the products of the triangular trade. He is absolutely devoted to teaching European History and if the prospect of gaining knowledge isn’t enough motivation to take this course, Mr. Greenblatt should be.
Third, the brutal course load of AP Euro may throw some people off from this class, but it is this same onslaught of readings and annotations and essays that will allow you to become an infinitely better student. According to the College Board, there is a higher percentage of students receiving a five- 11.9%- compared to AP World, which stands at 8.9% of fives received (collegeboard.org). While this statistic isn’t representative of every school, it does show that more AP Euro students in general receive a higher score, most definitely because of the skills they acquire throughout the year.
Also, due to the intensive methods of study and essay writing that Mr. Greenblatt required us to undertake, I learned how to properly formulate a thesis, and support it with evidence from sources and from my knowledge of European history. This skill isn’t only important to have in history, but also in advanced English, math, and any other subject that requires the writing of a formal essay. In addition to learning how to write a good essay, the nightly readings that you’re randomly quizzed on allow you to perfect your note taking skills. You are able to take whatever type of notes you want- unconfined to some unreasonable molds of flow chart filled note-taking that other teachers may require, and free to adjust your note taking strategy so that you actually retain information.
Although some nitpicking World kids may argue that they need a homework grade to bump up their grades, one can’t help but think that this view is missing the point of taking an AP course (not just Euro) entirely. Homework grades may inflate one’s average, but it is overwhelmingly easy to barely make an effort something that is only checked for completion. By writing a sentence on a reading you barely read, how does this help you learn? How could you rather have a hundred homework grade but fail tests? How do kids think this is a good idea? The lack of official homework in AP European History at Northport makes for more responsible and intelligent students, as proven by the aforementioned College Board statistic.
AP World kids can come at me with all the questions they want: ask me or anybody that took Euro. We’ll all say the same thing: AP European History is a course opportunity that incoming sophomores will not want to miss, because of the endless opportunities to learn and grow as a student. It’s not too late to switch your schedule from AP World to Euro… it is surely the superior AP history in every way!