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How to weigh academic rigor with teens stress

swtaffy904swtaffy904 Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
My D18 is stressing over classes for next year. She will take AP lit and AP psych. She is stressing over whether to take AP Stats or AP Calc. She was planning on stats but saw some literature from Weslyan and they expect calculus. She is also taking a science class at regular level (hates science).
She had great gpa 3.95 UW, waiting on SAT scores from May, took AP and SAT subject tests. No results in.
If she doesn't push full throttle does she not gab a chance at 'tippy top'schools? And what about not tippy top but selective LACs? It is her goal, not mine. I want to give her good advice while also thinking of her stress, mental health and ability to have a reasonable senior year.
Thanks for opinions
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Replies to: How to weigh academic rigor with teens stress

  • Sportsman88Sportsman88 Registered User Posts: 1,485 Senior Member
    There are two kinds of stress. Stress over the workload during the school year and stress over every little decision and whether it will affect college admissions.

    The latter can be more stressful on the 17 year old than the work. Help her understand there isn't a perfect path and not to nuke every decision. If Wesleyan recommends calculus then I would strongly consider taking Calc AB if you think she can make an A. Do not worry about BC. I wouldn't worry about science not being AP. This is not "she with the most APs wins."

    Do you think her schedule will overload her given time with ECs?
  • mjrube94mjrube94 Registered User Posts: 359 Member
    edited June 7
    I would agree with GardenStateGal. My daughter chose AP Calc AB over AP Stats for that exact reason (at the time Wes was one of her top choices).

    I reminded her that she very well might not get in to Wes even if she did take Calc. If she could look back and think "that's ok" then take Calc. If she would be upset that she "wasted her time for nothing" then take stats. (And for what it's worth, she had a solid "B" all year).
  • homerdoghomerdog Registered User Posts: 1,281 Senior Member
    If she's taken Pre-Calc, then the next step is Calc (either AB or BC). Top schools all expect calculus. Hopefully, that's not a stressful choice. She probably got a little drip of calc in her pre-calc class so she might know what's coming...and she will use her algebra and trig in calc as well.

    My understanding is that top schools ideally want honors or AP level courses in all subjects. Kids can specialize once they get to college. I know that can be stressful for many students but, if she's shooting for schools like Weslyan, that's the expectation. With her stellar GPA, I'm assuming Calc AB shouldn't be a problem.
  • swtaffy904swtaffy904 Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
    Thanks for the responses. Ironically she is really good in math even though she doesn't like it. Solid A in pre-Calc.
    Dumb question: what is AB level? At her school levels are AP, Honors, and 'A level'.
    She has done great this year but it takes a toll on her. I was hoping to give her a little more room to breath next year but it looks like maybe not.
  • Sportsman88Sportsman88 Registered User Posts: 1,485 Senior Member
    ^ You state colleges want honors or AP in all subjects. That is not true, although the allowance for honors over AP makes it more accurate. I sat through more admissions briefs than I can count and colleges want the most rigorous schedule that a student can do well in. That definitely does not mean C's. Does it mean 3-4 APs as a senior? Probably if the school offers that. But it's not AP everything and some classes don't come in honors versions.
  • mjrube94mjrube94 Registered User Posts: 359 Member
    edited June 7
    The College Board offers 2 AP Calc Classes - "Calc AB" and "Calc BC". I don't know the differences in content between the two, but Calc BC is the harder one (she could look this up on line). In D's school, you can only take Calc BC if you have an A in Honors Pre-calc; otherwise, you go into Calc AB. Sounds like your daughter would be a candidate for BC, but may want to back down to AB to strike the balance she's looking for. Can she talk to her precalc teacher and see what s/he recommends?
  • suzy100suzy100 Registered User Posts: 4,069 Senior Member
    Some schools don't offer both - my Ds' school does not, only BC. OP, my older D was a humanities kid. She did take APCalc (and I recommend that your D take it as well) but did not take any AP science courses and she was admitted to selective schools.
  • melvin123melvin123 Registered User Posts: 440 Member
    edited June 9
    I've heard that AB is the equivalent of one semester of college calculus and BC is the equivalent of a year.
    Post edited by skieurope on
  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk Registered User Posts: 829 Member
    Definitely recommend AB, the class goes a little slower than BC, you may even review some pre-calc stuff the first couple of weeks. BC will be faster, you cover a lot, may not be as much time to ease into it. The homework load can be considerable for BC. Stats should only be taken if you've already taken Calculus.

    Not to throw another wrench in this but AP Psych would be the class I'd consider optional if I were to drop an AP to have a happier senior year!
  • zannahzannah Registered User Posts: 507 Member
    Re-read Sportsman about types of stress. When looking at or hearing about students getting ready for college, I feel like kids put themselves through multiple checklists and expect that there is an elusive package of classes, extracurricular activities, standardized test scores, leadership positions, and so on that categorically and cumulatively will result in THE perfect profile to get into the right college. If a student doesn't get into an Ivy or other supposedly perfect school, his or her life isn't over. It is simply different from what s/he dreamed.

    Sometimes I think students are attempting to attain the highest number or the best array of classes and grades. Are these students trying learn despite boring teachers, yucky sections, unfortunate time or class schedules? The one thing anyone can control and even maximize is the brain. You learn for yourself and make sure you know the information on the test. If I had a dollar for how many times I was asked how many items are on the test.... as though there was a comparable number of important pieces of information. Please learn broadly, deeply and incidentally. The school reputation or the number of AP classes, and so on is just paint.

    Similarly, many students worry about the quality of an essay topic. Truly, admissions, teachers, and employers expect a paper with excellent grammar, coherent organization, precise vocabulary for the theme, clear development and support of the topic and so on. Mendel could have written a good paper on the color of peas. Quality is more important than trying to beat an unknowable decider.

    Perhaps because of pressure and adolescent angst, students do feel and express stress that is oddly directional (freeze up, shut down, etc). There are essentially two options. First, if you are sure you are in over your head, change to something that can be learned with less emotional toll. I was never suited to be a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader although that was considered an ideal option. I chose edpsy Second, if you can master learning a topic, do so. Don't fret and engage in what if thinking. I can't think of a better way to screw up what I am doing. For example, I do not have enough fingers and toes to balance my checkbook when I'd is late and I am tired. Make a better choice now.q

    The one thing we can all rely on is our carefully nurtured mind. When I took a high stakes professional credentialing test, I knew the consequences of not doing well. Yet, after I left the exam, It was important to me to know that even a pits score did not mean I was unqualified professionally. It only meant I needed to take it again and earn I higher scorer if necessary.

    Next year, I won't even remember what life altering thing is consuming me now. Please be of stout heart! Life can be different, but still great.


  • BooBooBearBooBooBear Registered User Posts: 104 Junior Member
    Calc AB is the equivalent of Calculus I in college, BC is the equivalent of Cal I AND II, so the entire year. When you take the BC test, you get an AB subscore that some colleges use for placement even if your BC overall AP score is not sufficient.

    If she wants to get into a "highly selective" college and/or wants to major in something that would require calculus (STEM, Economics, Psychology-possibly, anything with statistics really), then she should take AP Calculus in high school. Even should she not take the AP exam or do well if she does, it will make taking calculus in college MUCH easier.
  • RightCoasterRightCoaster Registered User Posts: 1,620 Senior Member
    We are having a hard time deciding whether our son19 is up for the challenge for the most rigorous workload or settling for a more manageable track of studies. We know he doesn't want to do the 10 AP route, studying stuff he has little interest in like English and languages. . He's probably better suited for 5 AP's in total, some math and science. This might be the right amount, but could also be too light or worse too hard. I would hate for him to suffer mentally from stress, but would also not like to see him give up some chances at admission because he could've pushed harder. It's really a delicate balance. If he was not participating in sports he'd have more time for his studies and we'd suggest the most rigorous classes, but his sports might help him with admissions.

    This has been a source of discussion in our house for the last few months. We go back and forth on it.
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