By Keturah Raymond ‘15
Crowds flocked around the white sheets pasted to the walls of the hallways, a long list of ID numbers printed in size 10 font. If your ID number was there, you let out an exhale of relief and walked away proud. If not, you lowered your head and walked away grimly. This year’s AP acceptances saw more people doing the latter and caused a stir of controversy on just how selections are done.
Generally for all departments and their AP courses, there is a meeting to explain course requirements to the students, as well as the commitment they will need. If students want to proceed they receive an application that requires a transcript and recommendation. Sometimes, a short response question is included to ask the students why they want the particular course. All applications are reviewed by the subject teachers and handed back to the heads of the departments.
“I don’t think they had senior priority this year. I know a lot of sophomores who got into classes juniors applied for,” said Amanda Varvak ’15. “It’s our last year, and we can’t even take classes we need for college.”
One class in particular, normally a seniors’-only class, had a total of 6 rising juniors on the acceptance list. That was AP government and economics. According to Ms. Joann Peters, assistant principal of the social studies department, the class does not have senior priority. It is all based on whether the student has met state requirements of global and U.S. history before taking a semester of government and economics. Completing those requirements, the student becomes eligible to take part in AP government and economics.
“You’ve got to keep in mind that the teachers don’t know the students applying for the course,” said Ms. Peters, “so they make acceptances based upon their grades and what they write on their application.”
With a record number of applicants, it was a difficult decision for subject teachers to narrow down the list to 60 or 70 kids in each AP. AP Statistics, for example, had over 400 applicants and to get a smaller sample, they first removed anyone with below an 80 on a math regents exam, said Ms. Patrica Lazo, assistant principal of the math department. Then from there they looked strictly at math averages. The deciding factor was ultimately the student’s math and science averages.
The English department upon introducing a new AP class this year, language and composition for rising sophomores, faced similar issues with the number of applicants but also with the budget.
“Originally, there were only two classes and everyone else that would make up a third class was on the waitlist,” said Ms. Janice Pumelia, assistant principal of the English department. “We were unsure of whether we’d be able to accommodate two or three classes, but now we’ve received the call that there is enough for three classes.”
In the science department, particularly with AP psychology, many students felt that the selection process was unfair. There were rumors that applications were first come, first serve and that grades were not a factor.
However, Ms. Gloria Aklipi, subject teacher for AP psychology, was able to clear up all the rumors. According to Ms. Aklipi, acceptances were done on a rolling basis but not just anyone was accepted. Grades were a factor, and she was looking for an overall 88 average as well as high grades in other science classes and English as the class involves a lot of reading.
“There was about a two week range for when students could hand in the applications,” said Ms. Aklipi, “instead of waiting at the end of that period to do a huge pile of applications, I did them as they came in. It wasn’t exactly first come first serve, it was whether they had the grades or not.”
For each department, decisions are left up to the subject teachers. Since they will be the ones to teach the accepted students, they are the ones who choose. If there are too many applicants it is common for a cut off mark in grades to be chosen to narrow down the sample. From there, an acceptance list and a waitlist are made and those are sent to the assistant principals who review and post them up.
“Ultimately the student decides whether or not they accept the course or reject the offer,” said Ms. Peters.
After acceptances are done many students find out that they either do not have enough room in their schedules or they simply drop the courses leaving room for others to be bumped up from the waitlist to the acceptance list. In the case of the English department, it may also happen that an extra class is suddenly approved and more students are given the opportunity to take the course. Be sure to check with your guidance counselor to see if you are among those.
Though advanced placement courses do look good on college applications, there is no need to be too bummed out if you’re not accepted. If you’re a rising sophomore or junior, you can always apply next year for another course and use the coming year to improve your grades to increase your chances of being accepted. If you’re a rising senior you can look into other alternatives such as College Now, which gives college credit just like an advanced placement course without the cost of the AP test.