The Class of 2021: Then and Now
Reading Time: 11 minutes
In 2017, the class of 2021 took a survey at Camp Stuy, prior to their first day of freshman year. In 2021, they took a similar survey during the end of senior year. After collecting and analyzing the data of 177 outgoing seniors, here is what The Spectator found:
PART A: ENTERING HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE
I THINK THERE IS A POSITIVE CORRELATION BETWEEN MY SHSAT SCORE AND MY ACADEMIC SUCCESS AT STUYVESANT SO FAR.
I WOULD PREFER THAT THE SHSAT REMAIN THE SOLE CRITERIA FOR ADMISSION TO STUYVESANT
A majority of students (58.8 percent) believe that there is a weak or no correlation between their SHSAT score and academic performance at Stuyvesant. This claim seems to be correct as there is little correlation between SHSAT and GPA. However, 54.8 percent agree that the SHSAT should remain the sole criteria for admission into Stuyvesant, which provides an interesting contrast between the SHSAT as an indicator of academic success and the exam being used for admission into such an academically rigorous school.
AFTER I GRADUATE FROM STUYVESANT, I THINK I MIGHT ATTEND AN IVY LEAGUE UNIVERSITY OR OTHER ELITE UNIVERSITY
I AM ATTENDING AN IVY LEAGUE UNIVERSITY OR OTHER ELITE UNIVERSITY THIS UPCOMING FALL
Around 70 percent of freshmen agreed or strongly agreed to the notion of attending an Ivy League university or another elite university after graduating, with over 90 percent of the senior class applying to Ivy League universities. Yet, as might be expected, seniors didn’t quite reach their ivy-high hopes. 46.9 percent of the respondents will be attending Ivy League or elite universities in September while 52.5 percent will not. Additionally, 50.3 percent of seniors felt that attending a specialized high school positively influenced their chances of getting into an Ivy League university while 20.6 percent felt there was a negative influence. This could contribute to the notorious college culture at Stuyvesant. It is, however, also important to note that what is considered an “elite” university was up to the students’ interpretation.
PART B: IDENTITY/LIFESTYLE
I AM OPPOSED TO THE USE OF MARIJUANA, STUDY DRUGS AND HARD DRUGS.
HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU USED MARIJUANA, STUDY DRUGS, OR HARD DRUGS?
Consistent with the 75.4 percent of the class of 2021 that opposed the use of marijuana as freshmen, 80.8 percent abstained from the use of this drug during their time at Stuyvesant. In fact, only 9.6 percent of seniors reported semi-often (4.5 percent) or regular (5.1 percent) marijuana use, which is similar to the 9.4 percent who reported as freshmen that they were not opposed to marijuana use by high school students. However, what is not noted in this survey is whether the seniors’ opposition to marijuana has changed over time, especially given New York’s recent legalization of marijuana usage.
Similarly, the class of 2021 was generally against study drug usages like Adderall and Ritalin. By the end of senior year, these numbers remained largely consistent as an overwhelming 93.8 percent indicated they had never used study drugs.
As freshmen, the class of 2021 was most strongly opposed to the usage of “hard” drugs, such as cocaine and opiates (74.6 percent). These numbers have remained consistent through senior year, as only 1.7 percent of seniors have reported usage of hard drugs, while the large majority (98.3 percent) have never used them.
HOW MUCH CAFFEINE DO YOU INTAKE DAILY?
Despite the image of the addled, barely conscious Stuyvesant student, seniors only showed a moderate increase in their caffeine intake over the course of high school. Though there was a large decrease in the number of students consuming no caffeine (from 68.2 percent to 48.6 percent) and a 10.9 percent increase in the number consuming one cup, which could be attributed to a lack of sleep from rigorous schoolwork. 81.4 percent of seniors remained below the 100 mg of caffeine per day considered healthy for teenagers. While caffeine consumption clearly increased from freshman to senior year, the change was not any more significant than expected over the course of high school.
I most closely identify as
Over four years, many in the class of 2021 got a chance to explore their sexuality, as the percentage of students identifying as LGBTQ+ increased by 11.4 percent. High school is often characterized as a time of self-discovery, so it is no surprise that this percent increased. Particularly, there was a large increase in students that identify as bi/pansexual. The number of people questioning and were other/asexual decreased.
I AM OPPOSED TO SEXUAL ACTIVITY BY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
HAVE YOU ENGAGED IN SEXUAL ACTIVITY OF ANY NATURE DURING HIGH SCHOOL?
Throughout high school, 25.9 percent of the class of 2021 participated in sexual activity at least once, which is below than the national average of about 38 percent. Meanwhile, 74 percent of seniors have never engaged in sexual activity.
HAVE YOU RECEIVED TREATMENT FOR MENTAL ILLNESS SINCE COMING TO STUY?
Since coming to Stuyvesant, only 17.5 percent of students of the class of 2021, or approximately one in five seniors, have received treatment for mental illness. However, conclusions on factors behind receiving mental health treatment are difficult to draw as it is difficult to detect the number of students that may need treatment for mental illness. Additionally, given the difficulties of the pandemic and social distancing in the past year, many may not have access to mental health professionals, facilities, or resources.
PART C: ACADEMIC HONESTY
i would sacrifice a good grade to preserve my academic honesty
i think that academic cheating (in any form) can be justified
Over the course of four years at Stuyvesant, the class of 2021’s perception of academic honesty changed dramatically. While 40 percent of the class of 2021 in middle school never partook in some form of academic dishonesty in middle school, the number drastically decreased to 12.6 percent in high school where 79.1 percent of the class of 2021 have partaken in academic dishonesty at least once. While there are many factors behind the change, the greater accessibility to online resources when taking exams online this year during remote learning may have contributed to the increase in students who have participated in academic honesty.
When looking at whether academic dishonesty could be justified, however, the responses were more split. Many seniors were neutral (36.7 percent) in whether academic dishonesty cannot be justified. While a greater percentage agreed (36.8 percent) that academic cheating could be justified compared to those that disagreed (26.5 percent), there is only a slight difference.
part d: covid-19
have you received the covid-19 vaccine?
An overwhelming majority of students in the class of 2021 (93.8 percent) have taken the COVID-19 vaccine. This high tally is generally expected as New York City was once a hotspot of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts for personal safety and protection is more ubiquitous here. Among the 6.2 percent who have not received the vaccine, many attributed it to parental or personal skepticism. It is important to note that 33.3 percent of those who did not receive the vaccine were in the process of scheduling an appointment and therefore, were not fully vaccinated at the time of the survey, but were to receive one.
STUYVESANT HANDLED THE PANDEMIC AND REMOTE LEARNING WELL
MY MENTAL HEALTH AT STUYVESANT
Where 1 constitutes “poorly” and 10 “excellent,” students overall believe that Stuyvesant handled the pandemic and remote learning well. 70.2 percent of students rated Stuy’s performance as a 5 or higher and 55.4 percent of students liked remote learning compared to in-person school (giving an 8 or higher). This differed from expectations considering the number of negative comments regarding remote learning in Stuyvesant Facebook groups. However, Stuyvesant was able to maintain a general school structure virtually (e.g., consistent live classes, projects, an organized schedule), compared to other high schools.
However, the same could not be said regarding Stuyvesant’s success in maintaining the mental health of our community. Where 1 constituted “poor” and 10 “great,” there was no drastic change in students’ mental health before and during the pandemic. The distribution of ratings describing mental health became much less homogenous during the pandemic, indicating that perhaps remote learning exacerbated both the good and the bad that was already present.
The written responses had a more negative view of the remote learning experience. One commented, “I liked doing assignments and taking tests from home, but everything involving person-to-person interaction was really bad during the pandemic.” Another senior had an opposite experience: “Pre-pandemic I was a straight-A student, never below the high 80s. During the pandemic [...] I have received grades in the 70s, 60s, and even a 46. I am months behind in several classes. I am in danger of not graduating due to several NX grades.” Others claimed to not believe in mental health, in that “people blow it out of proportion and use it as an excuse or trend.” Most cited a decrease or lack of social interactions, not academics, as the primary reason for the decline in their mental health. Ultimately, remote learning was unsuccessful in recreating Stuyvesant’s social environment virtually.
PART E: THE END
When I AM OLDER, I HOPE TO GO INTO
When I AM OLDER, I HOPE TO GO INTO
The end has come. The time has come to begin considering in earnest what field Stuyvesant students will devote the years of youth and middle age to. Career plans are taking form, far more solid than the nebulous notions of freshman year: in freshman year, 19.4 percent of the class was undecided about what field they would devote themselves to. Four years later, indecision has been halved––only 8.2 percent of the entire class remains completely undecided. Meanwhile, STEM-minded folk are just as bountiful as ever, composing over half of both the freshman class and the senior class. While seniors hoping to pursue STEM is at a smaller percentage than that of freshmen year, it is important to note the distinction made in the survey between STEM and computer science as there is a sizable number of students at Stuyvesant concentrated in computer science alone.
A similar growth pattern characterizes the portion of the population interested in entering finance, business, and management, doubling from 15.1 percent in freshman year to 31 percent in senior year. What is particularly notable is that over the course of the past four years at a STEM-oriented school, the number of people interested in pursuing either the humanities or the arts experienced an explosive increase. In freshman year, only 8.2 percent hoped to pursue a humanities career (social sciences, English, history, law, etc.). By senior year, that number had boomed up to 27.5 percent. A similar phenomenon emerged in the arts, rising from 3.5 percent to 13.5 percent.
Stuyvesant students are still the same people as the bedraggled-looking freshmen standing dazed under fluorescent light featured in their ID photos. Yet the picture looks less blurry now.
I HAVE MADE FRIENDS WHOM I INTEND ON KEEPING IN CONTACT WITH AFTER HIGH SCHOOL
An overwhelming majority of seniors feel that they have made friends with whom they will continue to keep in touch. 60.8 percent of students strongly agreed with this statement and 30.4 percent of students just agreed, totaling over 90 percent. Only 3.5 percent remained neutral and only 5.3 percent disagreed. Notably, no seniors strongly disagreed with the statement.
I HAVE _ TEACHERS WHO I FEEL I CAN COMFORTABLY REACH OUT TO WITHIN THE SCHOOL BUILDING
Despite spending the last four years at Stuyvesant, a whopping 17 percent of this year’s graduating class feels that there are zero teachers within the walls of the school building that they can comfortably reach out to. However, teachers still remain an important part of many students’ lives, with the majority of students having one to three trusted teachers in the building. A small, though not insignificant, percent of students (3.6 percent) believe that there are seven or more teachers at Stuyvesant whom they could reach out to if necessary, indicating that for some, forming and fostering student-teacher relationships throughout the four years of high school is a special part of the Stuyvesant experience. For many Stuyvesant will-be graduates, having a teacher or two (or seven) in their corner played an integral role in establishing a sense of stability and trust within the school.
A challenge encountered was that there is no data from previous senior classes to compare this to, so it is difficult to tell whether remote learning has had an effect on the number of teachers this year, given the distant student-teacher relationship.
have you received the covid-19 vaccine?
DURING THE PAST FOUR YEARS, HAS SCHOOL BEEN THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR LIFE?
In keeping with the popular stereotypes, Stuyvesant students indeed value school very highly. An overwhelming majority, 77.2 percent, of seniors responded that school has been the most important part of their lives over the past four years at Stuyvesant, given the academic pressures to study and earn high grades.
WHICH YEAR WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR MOST/LEAST DIFFICULT YEAR AT STUYVESANT EMOTIONALLY/ACADEMICALLY?
As expected, many students found junior year to be the most difficult, academically, the year of high school notorious for maintaining high grades for college. In junior year, characterized by the pressure to puff up extracurriculars and grades to advance in college admissions, students found themselves stuck in a whirlpool of homework, tests, and extracurriculars. It is also important to note that the class of 2021 spent half of junior year suffering from the added difficulties of remote learning, exacerbating a year that is already difficult by default. The bright side of junior year was that it was generally considered to be the least socially difficult, most likely because students had already established their friend groups and became acclimated to Stuyvesant’s social environment.
By contrast, most considered freshman year to be the most socially difficult year. This makes sense: in freshman year, students find themselves in a drastically new environment, among new people and new standards. This was followed by senior year, most likely due to the lack of social interaction from remote learning and the absence of senior traditions, such as spirit days.
WOULD YOU CHOOSE STUYVESANT AGAIN?
After four years of late-night studying, nine out of ten seniors surveyed said that they would choose Stuyvesant again.
The other ten percent who said they would not choose Stuyvesant again cited the toxic, competitive, college-orientated environment as “elitist” and “cruel.” Some believed they would be happier in an environment that prioritizes students’ mental health over academic rigor.
As one senior wrote, “If I had the option to not be depressed I would.” Another said, “This school doesn’t care about its students.” Yet another wrote, “I don't regret it, but I wouldn't do it again. Too much stress/damage to mental health, not enough benefits to outweigh the bad.”
As seniors graduate at Arthur Ashe Stadium this year, it is time to say goodbye to yet another class, a resilient one that persevered through one and a half years of remote learning amid a pandemic. Though they are reaching the end of Stuyvesant, they are about to embark on a new beginning. Congratulations, class of 2021.