The COVID-age Class of 2024: Freshman Survey

Reading Time: 8 minutes

The Spectator conducted the annual Freshman Survey virtually rather than in-person this year during Camp Stuy Part II. Our questions cover a range of topics, from ethnicity and immigrant status to career goals and academic honesty. A total of 372 freshmen responded, here’s what we found:

Part I: Demographic Information

Out of our sample of the class of 2024, 78.8 percent are Asian, which aligns with Stuyvesant’s historically large Asian population; 3.5 percent of surveyors were Black, and 3.8 percent were Hispanic or Latinx, higher percentages than previous years, which usually hover around one percent and three percent, respectively. The fact that this year’s online survey allowed freshmen to choose more than one ethnicity, while previous year’s data only allowed students to choose one, however, could have led to this discrepancy.

This year’s freshman class mostly identified as heterosexual (80.1 percent), while a sizeable minority identified as bisexual or unsure/questioning, 9.1 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively. In comparison, 76.1 percent of last year’s senior class identified as heterosexual, 12.5 percent as bisexual, and 4.5 percent as unsure, demonstrating a slight increase in LGBTQ+ identifying students between freshmen and graduated seniors.

Well over half the incoming freshmen identified their families as economically comfortable—either upper class (3.0 percent), upper middle class (22.6 percent), or middle class (45.2 percent). The remaining students were fairly evenly split between working class (11.8 percent) and unsure of their family’s socioeconomic status (17.5 percent). Interestingly, this data seems to be shifted toward a wealthier student body, as in the 2019-2020 school year, 44 percent of students qualified as economically disadvantaged.

Still, Stuyvesant’s reputation as a school of immigrants holds true. Three-quarters of students surveyed were either immigrants themselves or children of immigrants. Despite this population of immigrants, students’ families seem to be very well-educated: 66 percent of students had parents who graduated from either college or both college and graduate school. At the same time, about 13 percent of students had parents who only attended either middle or high school and did not receive a college education.

Choose the race that best describes your background.

My sexual orientation is:

Choose the religion that you identify with.

How would you classify your family’s socioeconomic status?

The highest level of education either of my parents/guardians received was:

What type of middle school did you attend?

Part II: Academic Information

Staying true to Stuyvesant’s reputation, a majority (40.9 percent) of respondents said that math was their favorite subject, followed by science with 19.6 percent of respondents, English with 15.3 percent of respondents, and finally history with 10.8 percent of respondents. In total, over 60 percent of students indicated a preference for a STEM-subject while under 30 percent indicated a preference for a humanities subject, which is not surprising given Stuyvesant’s reputation as a STEM-focused school.

Standing in stark contrast with the large amount of homework that Stuyvesant students stereotypically receive, the majority of students spent less than an hour every night studying or doing homework during middle school—with 32 percent spending less than half an hour daily.

Despite the likely uptick in studying, freshmen were generally optimistic about their academic success and college prospects. When asked if they believed they would attend an Ivy League or other elite university, over half of respondents (56.7 percent) agreed or strongly agreed. Notably, 36.6 percent of surveyors were neutral, while only 6.7 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed. Similarly, 13.4 percent and 47.3 percent of freshmen predicted they would be among the top 10 and 25 percent of their class, respectively; 29.8 percent thought they’d be in the top 50 percent, while a small minority of 9.4 percent of students thought they’d be in the bottom 50 percent. For the class of 2020, fewer students did end up attending an elite university—40 percent of last year’s seniors reported that they would attend an elite university.

My favorite subject is:

I spent ___ hours sleeping on an average night in:

After I graduate from Stuyvesant, I think I might attend an Ivy League University or another elite university.

By the end of my Stuyvesant career, I predict I will be among the ___ of my class.

Part III: Applying to Stuyvesant

The most common time-range of preparation for the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) was between one to four months before the exam, meaning that one began studying between September and June 2019. Of the remaining students, around 7.5 percent did not study or only studied less than a month before the SHSAT, and about 45 percent of students studied for over six months studying. These statistics are remarkable, given the perception that many students start preparing for the SHSAT in their early years of middle school.

Regardless of how long they spent studying, the majority of surveyors (41.1 percent) were ambivalent about the correlation between their SHSAT score and academic success at Stuyvesant. The remaining 60 percent were split between agreeing and disagreeing with such statements. Ultimately, analysis of the class of 2020’s data proved that most freshmen were correct—there was little to no correlation between SHSAT score and grade point average at Stuyvesant. Still, this statistic does not speak to how much effort each individual student must put into their academics to achieve their grades and if this correlates with SHSAT score.

To what extent did a parent/guardian pressure you to come to Stuyvesant?

When did you start studying for the SHSAT?

Which best describes the method of studying you used for the SHSAT?

To what extent did a parent/guardian pressure you to come to Stuyvesant?

How many hours a week do you spend watching TV (including Netflix)?

I think there is/will be a positive correlation between my SHSAT score and my academic success at Stuyvesant.

Part IV: Identity/Lifestyle

The freshmen class was, overall, against most types of drug use. Over half of freshmen (53.8 percent) strongly agreed that they opposed the use of marijuana by high school students, with 24.7 percent agreeing and only 7 percent disagreeing. In contrast, 30 percent of the class of 2020 used marijuana at least once in their four years at Stuyvesant. Students were more conservative in respect to study and hard drugs: 65.5 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they were opposed to the use of study drugs, while over 95 percent agreed or strongly agreed that they were opposed to the use of hard drugs. Correlating more strongly with statistics shown in last year’s senior class, 90 percent and 94 percent of seniors never used study or hard drugs, respectively.

At a school known for its intense academic environment, over half of incoming freshmen said that they either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “my mental health is something that I think about regularly.” This is a good sign, considering the mental toll that the pandemic and quarantine can have on students, especially ones who are transitioning to a new school.

In contrast to many upperclassmen, most freshmen (76.3 percent) spend less than an hour each day on Facebook. In fact, nearly 20 percent of them do not have any social media accounts. Some freshmen likely spend this extra time on leisure activities—over 56 percent of students spend between one and three hours watching TV, gaming, or watching YouTube on a typical school day. This statistic, however, has the potential to change as students’ workload increases.

Finally, similar to the amount of students who identified math as their favorite subject, the majority of the freshmen class is interested in pursuing a career in STEM in the future. A significant minority (16.9 percent) hopes to go into finance, business, or management, and only 9.3 percent would like a career in a humanities field. This data correlates strongly with their club interests at Stuyvesant: 63.1 percent are interested in academic/STEM clubs. The runner-up in this category was sports with 45 percent interest, and community service, arts, and speech and debate trailed behind it, with 41.5 percent, 34.1 percent, and 26.1 percent, respectively.

I am opposed to the use of ____ by high school students.

When I am older, I hope to go into ____.

Choose the extracurricular(s) you will be most likely to dedicate yourself to in the next four years.

Part V: Academic Honesty

Stuyvesant has made headlines for previous issues with academic honesty—most significantly in 2012 for the Regents cheating scandal. Still, like most freshman classes, the large majority of respondents (69.6 percent) agreed or strongly agreed that they would not cheat even if they could, in line with the fact that 45.7 percent rarely cheated in middle school and 39 percent never did. In comparison, 50.6 percent of graduated seniors partook in academic dishonesty once or a few times in high school, and 26.7 percent did so semi-often. While it is impossible to trace the exact root of this remarkable change in academic honesty, it likely stems from both the pressure students feel to excel academically as well as competitiveness regarding college admissions.

I would sacrifice a good grade to preserve my academic honesty (i.e. even if I could cheat, I would not because I feel it is immoral).

I think that academic dishonesty (in any form) can be justified.

Part VI: COVID-19

The pandemic affected very few (4.8 percent) students’ choices to attend Stuyvesant. This is reasonable given that freshmen not only took the SHSAT long before the pandemic, but also were unaware of how Stuyvesant would respond to it—and if it would even be relevant during their freshman year. Still, many students were affected by COVID-19. For some, these changes were more miniscule—such as being unable to go to the park or social distancing when seeing friends. For others, however, the effects of COVID-19 were more rampant: one student recounts his parents losing their jobs, and another commented that their grandmother, who suffers from diabetes, was at great risk after their mother contracted the virus.

Are you in a blended or remote cohort?