However the one measure out there to check his school readiness — his A.P. exams — deflated him. “Once I received again my 2s,” he recalled, “I used to be like, ‘OK, perhaps I don’t have the faculty capability I believed I had.’”

He took the Arizona State College class “Introduction to Engineering” by the Fairness Lab — and ranked No. 1 out of the 50 within the course.

“I simply thought, ‘I can do that,’” he mentioned.

Mr. Blount went on to the Harvard poetry course and is at the moment enrolled in his second Cornell course, “Massive Information for Massive Coverage Issues.” He additionally added just a few extra schools to his utility record — Cornell, Duke, Columbia and Howard — which had beforehand been dominated by State College of New York colleges.

“I now see school as preventing towards a set of circumstances that had been created to maintain me the place I’m,” he mentioned.

Jose Estevez, 17, of Buffalo, completed the “Poetry in America” course final semester with an 85, after failing his last examination.

However the affirmation of its professor nonetheless sticks with him. In December, at a closing ceremony for the course, Dr. New instructed the group, “Credit score is such precious forex, and also you labored so laborious to get it throughout probably the most difficult 12 months any of us can keep in mind having ever skilled.”

She added, “A very powerful preparation for school, I believe, might not be the A.P. programs, the books you learn, however actually the challenges that you simply met with resiliency.”