The APplication Dilemma

Stuyvesant students describe their experiences with and thoughts regarding the programming office amid the recent AP course applications.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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By Nada Hameed

With AP courses having just been released, many Stuyvesant students’ minds have been lingering on what will define much of their next year of high school: AP’s. Due to Stuyvesant’s competitive nature, AP courses are naturally in high demand, making even the application process to take the courses selective. The AP course selection has raised controversy among many students, introducing the question: is the programming system fair?

Some believe that a major flaw in the current AP application system is the lack of backup requests. Students can only apply for the maximum amount of courses that they’re eligible to take based on their GPA. With a limited amount of selections, one may feel pressured not to apply for a class with limited seat availability, even if one is most interested in that course. “I felt pressured to pick the courses that I felt I had the best chances of getting into rather than the courses that I was actually interested in,” sophomore Xueming Li explained in an e-mail interview. “Those with lower grades should take fewer AP courses, but they shouldn’t also be limited in their applications—there should be a clear distinction made between being able to apply for and being eligible for a course.” Li believes that even if reasonable restrictions exist that bar students from taking on more APs than they can handle, students should still have the option to rank more APs than they can take.

This appears to be a popular opinion, considering the significance, for many students, of taking a multitude of AP courses. “You should definitely be eligible to apply for more than you can take because there’s a chance you won’t get into any of the APs you signed up for,” sophomore Margaret Mikhalevsky agreed. Being able to fill out more choices would increase the chances of students getting an AP course, whether or not it is one that they would like to take.

Another point of controversy in the matter is the school’s decision to factor grades from remote learning into the system’s GPA requirements. Li believes that grades from the ‘20-’21 (remote) school year should be excluded from the Stuyvesant GPA that is considered when applying for APs. “I did terribly in remote and I would say I am doing much better this year,” he said. “I don’t think remote grades are an accurate representation of one’s [...] academic capabilities, and should not factor into eligibility.”

Senior Iftakar Mahamud agrees with this point, acknowledging that academic dishonesty during remote learning may give certain students an edge in the application process. “I’m not sure if [remote grades] should count because honestly a lot of people were cheating,” he said.

Mikhalevsky disagrees, noting that the current school year has been difficult to adjust to for many. “Remote grades being counted for AP eligibility should definitely be an option because it helped students who struggled transitioning back to in-person this year and are relying on their remote grades for a bump-up,” she explained.

Sophomore Janice Lee, however, questions the GPA requirements as a whole. “It’s not like [students would] sign up for a million APs if they were unrestricted, ‘cause they know that if they have too much work they’re not going to get a good grade,” she said. “The GPA restriction, I’m not saying [it’s] a bad idea, [but] it needs to be more lax.”

Others feel that there is not enough transparency within the AP application system. “It’s completely luck-based from our perspective,” Lee said. “We don’t have much say in the selection process and feel like we’re doomed.”

Mikhalevsky mentions this as well, particularly in regards to the process of CRing grades as this can allow for students to reach a certain GPA threshold. “The programming office needs to work more on communication,” she said. “They should be more public about the last day to CR a grade so it won’t count in your AP eligibility.”

The problems in the AP course selection have become increasingly evident, especially with students in special situations. Sophomore Mehmet Colak, who transferred into Stuyvesant from another country this year, has had challenges applying for AP courses due to matters out of his control. “I wasn’t in the US as a student last year and because of this the classes that I took are very different,” he explained. “I don’t meet the requirements for AP course selections here because [my] freshman year was a pass or fail.” While Colak’s situation is atypical, he feels that there is generally room for improvement in the way that applications are handled. “My advice would be to not only look at a transcript but also the student’s enthusiasm toward a class,” he said. “It would be like an extra step to getting accepted into an AP course.”

Not all students, however, have had negative experiences with the programming office. Senior Elizabeth Stansberry described her experience when asking the programming office to take a fifth AP course, which she was directed to appeal to Principal Yu for. “I enjoy the class and I can manage the workload, so I think it would be more rewarding for me,” she had explained to him. Principal Yu ended up approving her request and the programming office allowed her to take the course, demonstrating that Colak’s suggestion does work in practice. “The programming office, and even the principal in some cases, are very understanding given your circumstances,” she added.

AP course selections are in the past for now, so there is a possibility of the programming office adjusting the process for next year. Of course, it is easier said than done; widening the gap between the number of AP courses each student can apply for would decrease the proportion of those who could be accepted, especially for courses that are in high demand. However, if students and the programming office improve their communication with each other, by the time AP selections come around again, a smoother process may be reached. “There is no perfect solution in a school as big and competitive as ours,” Li said. “But I do think that the program office right now [...] could definitely be improved to benefit the student body.”