Story and photo of Josh Corrigan courtesy of San Benito High School:
Rigorous Advanced Placement classes prepare San Benito High School students for tests that, with a high enough score, can provide course credit before a freshman sets foot on a college or university campus. For members of the Baler Class of 2018 — and their parents — that hard work in high school is paying off at the next level.
Josh Corrigan, who is now an aerospace engineering major at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, took 11 AP courses and 12 AP tests from his sophomore through senior year, earning a total 81 college credits before high school graduation. His father, SBHS Trustee John Corrigan, said the 45 units that apply directly to Josh’s major equal approximately one year’s worth of college. At Cal Poly, that equates to nearly $30,000 for tuition, books, room and board.
“There is no question that the AP program at SBHS not only helped prepare him for college, but also is pushing him closer to a college degree,” John Corrigan said.
In addition to being able to skip a number of classes that he would have had to take in his first year, Josh Corrigan’s unit count gives him priority registration for classes at Cal Poly, a privilege usually not available to freshmen.
“I have a very broad knowledge base now that allows me to work with many subjects,” said Corrigan of his AP course load in high school. “I really value AP classes. I think they are a large part of why I got into college. Being around other people with the same academic drive and being in a place of academic rigor was extremely valuable in preparing me for college.”
Baler 2018 alumna Abigail Green took 10 AP classes while at San Benito High School, earning the top score of 5 in Calculus BC, Psychology and U.S. History, 4’s in Biology, European History, Statistics, Studio Art and Environmental Science, and 3’s in English Language and Literature.
“I received a total of 84 units before attending college,” said Greene, noting that while not all of those units applied to her major, she is two quarters ahead in her math requirements and can avoid getting wait-listed for other classes because of her priority status. “As a first-year student, I already have sophomore standing and had no issue getting classes.”
Greene said AP classes are “essential for anyone on the university track” as “even if not all the units will apply, the concepts will.”
A Balancing Act
Grace Nehme had a lot on her plate as a SBHS student, balancing AP classwork with extracurriculars such as Associated Student Body, cheer, track, dance, other clubs and a job. But she didn’t shy away from challenging herself academically.
“The workload on top of (her other activities) was very intense, but it ultimately pushed me to grow as a student and as a person to be able to handle it all,” she said. “I can say that I wouldn’t be here at Cal Poly (as a history major) without the way AP classes pushed me as a student.
Nehme, whose mother, Patty, is an SBHS trustee and teacher at Spring Grove School, earned more than 40 college credits by taking and passing AP tests, allowing her to bypass two lower division English and two history classes that apply toward her major.
A Family Tradition
Bryce Eggers, who is studying mechanical engineering at Brigham Young University, is the fourth sibling to take AP classes at SBHS. Three are now at BYU and one is a junior at the high school.
“In high school, I took a lot of my AP classes because they sounded interesting, without realizing just how useful they’d be in college,” said Eggers, who took two AP classes as a sophomore, five as a junior and five as a senior — plus, he self-studied for the Physics C class and test with teacher Tate Edwards.
Because of his AP test credits, Eggers is skipping some general ed classes at BYU and taking classes “that I actually find interesting and can get a head start on my major.”
“Taking all of those AP classes was difficult at times,” he said. “They were rigorous, college-level classes and they were pretty stressful — especially around testing season. However, even that’s a blessing now that I’ve reached actual college with actual college classes.”
Due to his experience with AP classes at SBHS, Eggers says he knows how to prioritize homework, study for tests and schedule his day.
“I know how to deal with the stresses of a college workload, so I have a lot more time to do fun things outside of class,” he said. “I joined a choir, an ultimate Frisbee team and an improv troupe, among other extracurriculars. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do all that if I hadn’t learned how to do schoolwork efficiently in high school.”
Eggers mother, Christy, said the AP courses her children have taken had the added benefit of helping them on college entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT.
“The type of questions they are exposed to on A tests and the writing instruction and techniques they practice are good preparation for those tests that are so important for college admittance,” she said. “The teachers want to teach and the students want to learn, which produces a successful learning environment.”
For Bryce Eggers, that environment helped him score a perfect 5 on all 13 of the AP tests he took.
“The greatest value in taking AP classes at SBHS is that our students have been better prepared to succeed in a competitive college classroom because they have been exposed to that type of teaching and learning before they get there,” Christy Eggers said.
San Benito High School’s recently-released Advanced Placement Trend Data shows that SBHS students outperformed both the state and global passing percentage rates for the second consecutive year as enrollment in AP classes continues to grow — surpassing 350 this year.
The highlights of that report will be shared in a separate story.