Awaiting the Final Verdict: Spring Semester Schedules

Individual perspectives on the impact of program changes.

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Schedules form the backbone of the Stuyvesant experience, providing challenging Advanced Placement courses, sought-after electives, and precious free periods for completing homework assignments and catching up with friends. Due to the sheer number of program changes requested, each student was limited to one program change per semester this year. Furthermore, the demand for classes that are necessary to graduate is as high as ever, causing many students with legitimate reasons for requesting a course to be denied.

Sophomore Eshaal Ubaid described her dismay regarding a change in her electives. “I was shocked because the beloved math team I’ve been on since the start of my Stuy career was gone,” she wrote in an e-mail interview. “After the panic, I figured it was a fixable error, especially since I’m a sophomore assistant.” However, the Program Office denied Ubaid’s request. “I was surprised by [the rejection], because for returning members, it’s more of a technicality to reapply. It didn’t occur to me that annualized classes could get in the way,” she said.

Despite the difficulty with program changes, Ubaid described her interactions with the Program Office as positive. “I personally got a swift, concise response. Both APs and the Talos system went smoothly for me, and [though] I was disappointed by the news that there was no way I could switch annualized classes to get my elective back, it was more of a ‘this is unlucky’ moment than a ‘wow, programming sucks’ moment,” she said.

Another major change that students faced was the shifting of lunch periods. “My lunch is fourth period, which starts at around 10:15 a.m., and it’s an absurdly early time to be eating lunch,” freshman Eva Lam said.

It can be difficult to have such an early lunch period, especially when after school activities and other commitments are involved. “I have third and 10th period free and fourth period lunch, which isn’t ideal, since I tend to stay after school for extracurriculars, but I’m sure I’ll be able to adjust and eat plenty of snacks during 10th period,” an anonymous senior added.

While early (as well as late) lunches can be problematic, religious lunch is perhaps even more significant. “I would have liked to have eighth period religious lunch, [but I don’t, so] I just pray by myself during seventh period,” freshman Ibtida Khurshed said. This adjustment can be difficult and isolating, as having a place to pray collectively is important to many Stuyvesant students. The denial was especially surprising, because one would expect a topic as serious as religion to be prioritized while making program changes. As Khurshed said, “I think there should have been more of an effort to help me get religious lunch.”

Many students didn’t even receive classes that are considered graduation requirements. Lam initially found that Music Appreciation wasn’t listed on her schedule. She requested the class to avoid taking it as a sophomore. “My program change was successful. But I know others whose requests were denied, so I guess I was just lucky,” Lam said.

There is often an air of uncertainty about required classes and when students should take them. “I think improving transparency around how programming and scheduling works would help. Clarity about graduation requirements, DOE requirements, and things like why people are placed into classes they didn’t select would help a lot,” an anonymous senior said.

The rule that students consider most significant is the one allowing only one program request per semester. “I think just one program request can be limiting, and the scheduling program on Talos can be wrong,” Khurshed said. As Khurshed pointed out, Talos makes mistakes at times. Thus, allowing only one program change request can create a significant barrier to fulfilling graduation requirements and giving qualified students the chance to take classes that interest them.

When issues cannot be resolved through Talos, students are left to search for faculty members to speak to. “My experience communicating with the Program Office was a bit difficult. Since my guidance counselor is currently on leave, I wasn’t exactly sure who to e-mail for my multiple requests. I e-mailed Ms. Ingram, who directed me to Mr. Goldsman,” Khurshed described, commenting on the less-than-clear path to receiving a program change.

Several students have suggestions to fix some of the programming problems. “Admin could probably share the reasoning behind some changes (like the one program change rule). I feel like a lot of the tension between Stuyvesant students and the Program Office/the administration is due to confusion and a lack of information surrounding the process, and improving communication would be immensely helpful in reducing that tension,” one anonymous senior added.

However, many students empathize with the Program Office. “I do know how hard it is to generate over 3,000 schedules, and Talos is still pretty good at it, so I’m not criticizing it too harshly,” Khurshed said.

Ubaid echoed this outlook on the situation by accepting her new schedule. “I’m still kind of disappointed but accepting of it. I’ve worked some stuff out and can be involved with [math team], though it isn’t the same as being in it,” she concluded.