UC San Diego provides its students a four-year plan, and most freshmen go into college thinking they’ll follow it. They’re wrong. At UCSD, the number of academic credits one has determines their enrollment times; the more credits you have, the earlier you enroll in courses. However, the enrollment system forces students to compete for spots in overfilled classes. Unfortunately, the present system is unfair since Advanced Placement transfer credits are counted when scheduling appointment times, disadvantaging students who come from backgrounds which prevent them from taking these courses.
Most students who started college with few transferable credits come from areas without access to AP classes. Those students’ families could not afford to send their children to high-tuition private schools or sustain the cost of living in an affluent community with a well-funded public school that offers AP courses. Those students usually went to cash-strapped public schools where college-level courses were not offered, or transferred to UCSD from abroad where AP courses are never offered. Many had to overcome adversities that often plague poor communities such as overcrowded schools and disincentivized teachers or simply could not afford to take the final test for college credit. UCSD, part of the UC system which purportedly aims for the advancement of low-income students, works against these students by giving an artificially low start to students without AP credits. It is clear that in order to bring more equality the enrollment system should be changed.
Some universities, such as NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study, allow AP credits to be included only at the end of the second year, thus ensuring that AP credit does not affect freshmen and sophomore enrollment times. UC Irvine has a system where freshmen are assigned random times, while others have their times assigned based on their credits including APs. However, neither of those systems solve the problem completely since the non-AP students still get disadvantaged after one or two years.
Another possible system would be to exclude AP credit entirely when scheduling enrollment times. Since all freshmen will enter with no credits counting toward their enrollment times, they would get their assignment times randomly. However, by the second year, highly-motivated students who took an abundance of courses in their freshman year could accrue enough credit to merit an earlier appointment time. This system would allow UCSD to institute a merit-based system of enrollment, equalizing students with and without AP credits.
Such a drastic change in the structure of appointment times seems like it might comes with some downsides. These concerns can all be addressed. First, the new system is countered by an idea that people who took AP courses are not competing for the same courses as those who did not because their AP credits waive lower-division courses. However, this is usually not the case. Students are required to take their introductory writing sequences, general education requirements, and other courses which cannot be waived. Therefore, including AP credits in the system artificially elevates the status of AP students competing for the same general education courses. Also, AP courses often do not waive any courses either because they were taken outside of a person’s major or because their content does not match the content of existing university courses.
Secondly, many would be ignited at the fact that students who worked hard to pass their AP courses would be stripped of their advantage. This is not entirely true. AP Students at UCSD are still in a better position than in many other universities like California Institute of Technology where AP courses are not accepted at all, Dartmouth College where scores are accepted only for placement but without credit, or New York University and Stanford University where the AP scores below four are not accepted. Moreover, most students did not expect advantages in enrollment when they were taking the courses — most schools do not have appointment times at all and those who have frequently excluded AP credits from determining it. For many students, AP courses were simply a way to show that they are competitive and highly motivated for college admissions since the UC system officially considers AP courses for admission purposes.
All in all, the current UCSD enrollment system consistently disadvantages students without AP credits. It is unfair that students who have not had an opportunity to get AP credits but who worked hard to get into college cannot have as good of a college experience as others. As a student who choses to go to public university, you receive both the burden and the privilege of bringing equality into education. Unfortunately, sometimes this might entail surrendering some advantages for other students’ sake.