Number of APs I take vs my peers at my school

With COVID limiting test centers, many schools are going test optional or test blind, therefore other factors of the application will be looked at more heavily.
My school offers about 15-20 APs, but I wasn’t able to start taking APs until junior year, since I am in a program. However, students in a another program were allowed to start taking APs in freshman year, meaning they have more APs on their transcript.
I take honors and am a straight A student, but I am afraid that if colleges look at the context of my school, they will think I didn’t challenge myself with more APs compared to the kids that were able to take APs starting freshman year - but I just wasn’t able to. It also happens that I know students in the early AP program that are applying to the same schools as me. (APs are offered to some students early, but I wasn’t one of them.)
By the time I graduate, I will have taken 6 APs, but I know those other students will have about 10-12.
Can someone please reason?

My suggestion would to have your GC address this issue for any schools that require a Counselor recommendation.

For the UC’s, you could mention that AP’s were not available do your involvement with the special program in the additional comments section.

For the CSU’s, they cap the GPA weighting to 4 AP/Honors classes (8 semesters) taken 10-11th only, so anything over the amount will not make a huge difference anyways.

Yes, it could make a difference at some highly selective schools. Difficulty of curriculum is usually an important issue.

It’s something to discuss with your GC who can address your situation. There are reasons why a student isn’t taking the most difficult courses available to them

They were available at my school, but didn’t fit into my schedule because of the program I am in. In a way, would that be a different reason/story?

IMO, it’s a strike against you.

That’s what the additional information section is for. Clarify that you were in a program and why you couldn’t take those AP classes, and you will be fine. They just need to know that you challenged yourself as best you can.

straight As in mostly honors classes plus 6 APs should make you competitive at all but the most competitive schools.

do you have a target school?

What kind of “program” were you in?

Your guidance counselor will be able to explain that you couldn’t take APs until junior year. That’s not unheard of.

That being said, you may have had honors options as an underclassmen. If your “program” didn’t include some or any (as the other “program” evidently did), it could hurt you, especially at selective schools where a rigorous curriculum is expected.