The Problem with the Incoming Class of 2024

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Issue 15, Volume 110

By Lauren Chin 

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I’m not sure if everyone remembers their first day at Stuyvesant High School. Whether you came in completely confident or utterly terrified, one thing remains the same for all of us: the first day of school was not easy. From navigating a 10-story building to a set of classmates that changed every 40 minutes, first days always come with their fair share of troubles.

Now, the next “first day” is getting closer, and a new cohort of Stuyvesant students have been admitted. Almost 80,000 eighth graders living in New York City received their high school admission results on March 20, 2020. Since that day, the incoming freshmen of Stuyvesant High School have already begun interacting with our community. Despite still being in quarantine, many posted in various Facebook groups, formed group chats with future classmates, and reached out to upperclassmen. A few particularly daring individuals even went so far as to create Instagram confessions pages, which had previously been a trademark of the class of 2023.

In many ways, the proactiveness of these 13-year-olds is commendable. Given the resources that they have, our future schoolmates have already begun preparations for high school several months in advance. It’s completely understandable that these students want to get a head start—both academically and socially.

Nevertheless, many current freshmen have expressed dislike or distaste for the actions of their successors. The enterprising personalities of these eighth-graders can easily be interpreted as conceit. One screenshot circulating among the class of 2023 shows a 2024 confessions page recommending taking as many electives as possible and not to “be a hobo and take them free periods.” To many, this seems like misguided advice—not to mention an arrogant statement to make. Seeing the support this screenshot has garnered among many other incoming freshmen has created a strong sense of hostility among the current freshmen. A few have even petitioned for taking down the confessions page.

Such anger is not entirely unfounded. Certain incoming freshmen have generated hatred of their own, insulting current freshmen with no factual basis by creating insulting confessions on their page. Before going on to insult the school’s freshman caucus, one post read: “As much as we dislike the freshies, it’s hard not to feel bad for them.”

From these incidents, it seems obvious to characterize members of the incoming class as presumptuous, ignorant, and unnecessarily hostile. Yet how harshly can we really judge the class of 2024 for such behavior?

There is, and always has been, a certain stigma associated with being a freshman. The entire grade is essentially the “new kid” and will almost certainly be teased or rejected by older students. Freshmen are known for entering high school with notoriously big heads, and those entering Stuyvesant are a perfect example of this.

Those in the graduating class of 2024 aren’t even Stuyvesant students yet, so there’s no way they can accurately judge life in high school at this time. Many are basing their opinions on the stereotypes associated with Stuyvesant: an insane workload, a cut-throat environment, and a necessity to be at the top of your class. Perhaps that’s why that future student recommended filling up all your free periods, not realizing that a majority of Stuyvesant students greatly enjoy or otherwise utilize these valuable periods to their academic and social advantage.

Moreover, while a particular few incoming freshmen may be antagonizing the current freshmen, that doesn’t mean the entire grade feels the same way. It’s only a select few who behave so irrationally. Again, this is a result of making assumptions without actual experience. Since their only interactions with current freshmen have been online, the incoming freshmen don’t give them the same type of consideration that they would in person.

The class of 2023 isn’t flawless, either. From trashing the half-floor to constantly wearing gym clothes, we’ve had our fair share of aggravating behavior. Though this may not be as bad as the incoming freshman's attitude, it’s still been cause for ridiculement. This is all the more reason to show more compassion to the incoming freshmen; we know what it’s like to be teased.

Because of this, we should not be criticizing the class of 2024 before they even get to Stuyvesant. Of course, all upperclassmen should be a bit more sympathetic toward younger students (and many are), but the class of 2024 is a special case. Unlike any current Stuyvesant students, our future schoolmates will be experiencing a sudden shift in learning styles as they enter high school.

We can all agree on the fact that online learning is a bit more relaxed than in-person learning. At the very least, you are more in control of your schedule and of your assignments. Considering how New York City students will be spending the next few months in such a situation, many will undoubtedly become used to this method and schedule.

Transferring from middle school to high school is already hard enough for anyone. Yet now, on top of that, the incoming class of 2024 will be forced to re-adapt to regular learning as well. It’s no wonder that so many are trying to interact with upperclassmen and each other beforehand. The transition from online learning to education at one of New York City’s top high schools will undoubtedly be a difficult one.

Furthermore, the stress of this situation can easily be misplaced and directed toward other people. Obviously, this isn’t the correct outlet for their anger, but that may be why some are insulting current freshmen.

The incoming class of 2024 is not perfect. Unfortunately, neither are we. In light of the current situation, we shouldn’t be alienating future Stuyvesant students. At the very least, they deserve to be treated with respect and not stereotyped under one category.