New “College-Prep” Classes


Kavya Gupta

     This August, as Cupertino High School students received their course schedules, many were surprised to see classes different from the ones they had finalized in April. They were later informed that during the summer of 2017, the administrators at CHS decided to prefix the titles of Chemistry, Physics and US History with “College-Prep”.

     According to Assistant Principal Andy Walczak, before the change was made these classes developed negative connotations and were often looked down upon by students in AP or Honors classes. Thus, the school administration took action to remove the stigma the classes had been labelled with.

     It has become common knowledge that colleges are prone to accepting more students with AP and Honors classes under their belts than students who take courses based on the standard high school curriculum. However, the high standard to take a maximum of AP’s and Honors courses, placed on students by peer-pressure and competition, caused the administration to take action to reduce its consequences.

     Said Walczak, “We would hear a lot of terms being thrown around like ‘Oh, I’m in regular US History,’ or, ‘I’m in regular Physics.’ It was an implication that students who were in those classes were less skilled or less academically inclined than kids that were in Honors or AP courses. We wanted to rebrand them to emphasize that these are classes that college-bound students are taking.”

     Walczak also claims that the addition of “college-prep” to the course names is to remind students that these classes still fulfill the A-G college requirements. The school hopes to assert the validity of these “easy” courses.

     Colleen Carey, a College-Prep Chemistry and Chemistry Honors Teacher thinks that some students at Cupertino seem to overlook that it is not a requirement to take AP or Honors classes for every available subject. This mindset results in the degradation of College-Prep classes district-wide.

     Said Carey, also an initiator of the change, “A lot of the problems we were having on campus were stemming from academic bullying or academic acts of bias. People think that you have to be in the Honors class, because the other Chemistry class is ‘regular’ chemistry, and by using that word you’re kind of dumbing it down a little bit, but it’s not, it’s a college-prep course, and I think people forgot.”

     However, sophomore Claudia Kok believes that while the change was necessary, it has not yet significantly affected the student community. Said Kok, “Changing the names of the classes gave students taking them more confidence, but though we don’t say it, everyone still knows that College-Prep Chemistry is the same as the old Chemistry.”

     To make a full and lasting effect, Kok thinks the students must change their thinking, which will come gradually with time. “I feel like the school can’t change much more than it already has,” Kok said.

     The school plans to continue with this movement by changing the names of other classes including as American Literature, US Government and Economy. The administration also aims to spread the change to the remaining schools in FUHSD.