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I didn’t take AP Calc. How will this affect me?

spotup18spotup18 8 replies7 postsRegistered User Junior Member
So, I didn’t take AP calc AB or BC. In fact, I didn’t take pre-calculus either. I opted for the AP Stats, Advanced Data Analysis route at my school yo double up on history classes rather than math or science classes. My school is STEM heavy however so there are plenty of kids doubling up on math or sciences. I’ll also be applying. I’ll also be applying as a political science major. Plus my I did get a 770 math score on the SAT (1560 overall). Assuming, the rest of my application is strong, how much will the fact that I didn’t take the traditional, common math route hurt my application?
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Replies to: I didn’t take AP Calc. How will this affect me?

  • supernovacoachsupernovacoach 103 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Have you thought about where you want to apply to?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77140 replies672 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Political science majors do need to be comfortable with math and statistics (e.g. analyzing polls and elections). Some more advanced elective courses may require calculus-based statistics as a prerequisite.
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  • mathmommathmom 32120 replies158 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    It might hurt you a little at places that have heavily math oriented econ departments. You can't apply to Caltech which I believe expects Calculus. But I doubt it will make any difference. You are very likely to have to take calculus in college and be warned it moves quickly. Good luck!
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 1782 replies6 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 23
    You speak about doubling up on history rather than math and science - and then just mention your math progression. Do your overall science courses align with the recommendations/requirements of the colleges you are aiming at (many require 3-4 years of lab sciences)? My daughter (intended major IR/politics) did not do AP calc opting for stats instead, but she did do precalc before that. It's my impression that it's unusual not to have at least precalc for the colleges she was looking at (and I did think she was at a disadvantage not having calc), but you haven't stated where you are looking. Some politics departments are more quantitatively focused than others. You have a great SAT score, but you haven't mentioned if you have done other relevant AP courses (comp gov, econ etc), GPA, AP scores... "assuming the rest of the application is strong" can mean many things. Also remember your application will be judged against other applicants from your school.
    edited July 23
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  • spotup18spotup18 8 replies7 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @SJ2727 I’ve taken APs in all other subjects (science, history, English) I’ve taken every history and English AP available to me and AP environmental plus AP bio and regular physics. By the time I graduate I will have taken 9 AP classes (8 excluding AP stats).
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  • happy1happy1 22662 replies2224 postsVerified Member Senior Member
    edited July 23
    I do think that for some schools not having pre-calc and calc could be an issue but it is a school-by-school decision. Look for any guidance on the websites of schools you plan to apply to.

    Not sure where you are looking to apply - but if you are considering elite colleges the issue to me isn't that you "didn't take a traditional route" but it is more that you took what appears to be a less rigorous route in a core subject. The top tier colleges want to see the guidance counselor check the box on the recommendation saying you have taken the most rigorous course-load available at your HS (which doesn't mean taking every AP class -- there is often some latitude in this). If you are looking at these top colleges you should discuss with your guidance counselor how he/she will rate your schedule given your math track.

    Note that to most colleges doubling up on a subject you prefer is no excuse for missing or not taking the appropriate coursework in a core subject (ex. in science colleges typically like to see applicants complete a sequence of bio, chem, and physics). HS is considered to be at time to get a broad general education, not to specialize.
    edited July 23
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 1782 replies6 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    So you've done 3 years of science, one of which (APES) is a bit "iffy" in terms of being regarded as a lab science?
    What social sciences have you done?
    How many years of foreign language do you have?
    Again - how does the courseload you've done compare to the recommendations listed on the college websites you are considering?
    Did you get 5s in your history APs? What about the others? (you are skirting the questions about GPA. It matters. So can AP scores related to your intended major.)
    Which colleges are you aiming at?
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  • spotup18spotup18 8 replies7 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @SJ2727 I’ve actually done 4 years of science for a total of 5 classes. I’ve done AP human geo, AP art history, APUSH, AP gov and economics this coming year. I’ve gotten 5s in all the APs I’ve taken except AP Stats and a 4 in AP environmental. I will have 4 years of foreign language. I either meet or exceed all the recommendations of the colleges I’m applying to. I have a 4.5 cumulative GPA. I hope this gives you more context?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77140 replies672 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Your situation is analogous to other situations commonly asked here:
    * Student stopped foreign language at level 1 or 2 to take elective AP courses.
    * Student avoided physics in order to take AP environmental science or some other courses.
    Whether it may matter for admissions depends on the college. For many moderately selective colleges, checking the boxes and meeting the stats is sufficient. But many more selective colleges have a subjective review of your application, so you really do not know whether a missing typically expected courses like precalculus or higher in math if available to you would be a detriment in such a review.

    In addition, when you get to college, dodging math in high school could be detrimental, if your college or major requires more math, so that you have to take remedial math in college. This is analogous to the student who dodged foreign language in high school and now has to take more of it in college, or the student who dodged physics in high school and now struggles in college physics.
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 1782 replies6 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    This is really a chore to drag out information. (You said you did all the AP history you could. Did you do AP Euro? Are you counting art history as history? Is your 4.5 a weighted GPA out of 4 or unweighted out of 5? No, don't worry about answering, I just ask to show we still don't have a complete picture.)

    Another unanswered question - what type of college are you looking at? Good colleges for politics include (random list of 5) Harvard, Georgetown, Cal, George Washington, American. Your chances with the profile you listed probably differ radically among those (and what you think is the easiest of that list to get into, may not be).
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  • mathmommathmom 32120 replies158 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    The short answer is that there are plenty of fine colleges that will be fine with the courses you took.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2335 replies5 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    tough to answer unless we know where you're applying, but taking Stats instead of Calc will not look good. Calculus is the first math course selective colleges look for on the transcript, regardless of major. If they don't see it and your hs offers it, they will wonder why. If you can take Calc you should, it's a gold standard for adcoms.
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  • suzyQ7suzyQ7 3948 replies55 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Why did you not take precalculus? You are clearly strong in math with a 770 Math SAT. What colleges are you aspiring to apply to?
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  • 2022soon2022soon 98 replies3 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @spotup18
    Your math choices in high school will have a significant impact on decisions from highly selective and even selective colleges. They receive so many qualified applicants that they are looking for reasons to deny. Not taking pre-Calc will be difficult to overcome. Can you alter your senior schedule to take it this year?
    If not just look at less selective schools.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33100 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 26
    "Yeah, But." in another thread, OP mentioned Stanford and USC, and others. Both will have multiple thousands of applicants who stretched themselves in ALL areas, including AP in areas unrelated to their majors. Plus top ECs and accomplishments. Top colleges look at what is, not what you wanted- and will mind not even having precalc. If you're at such a top prep, you need to speak with the GC.

    In addition, they ask for 3-4 years of "lab science," including bio, chem, and physics, (Some will then ask for AP in one of those.) As someone hinted, APES is not a lab sci. Nor is AP art history a core. AP govt/econ is iffy, expecially when you've only got WG (a 9th grade level class) and the only other true history core is APUSH. Poli sci and IR kids applying to tippy tops are expected to have the right history depth/breadth, for academic context. That's not AP art history.

    Fact is, Stanford and its sister tippy tops can't help but judge you by what's missing. Your choices reflect your thinking. This is NOT just about std test scores. Even the AP stats 4 could be an issue. But on another thread, you said it was a 3. (You haven't told is what AP English score.)

    "Assuming, the rest of my application is strong..." I don't see how you know it is, without more understanding of what they want. And if you misunderstand what they look for in the right course distribution, you may be missing other critical components of a successful app.

    Some of your non tippy tops may be more forgiving.
    edited July 26
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77140 replies672 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 26
    Nor is AP art history a core. AP govt/econ is iffy,

    High schools commonly require civics/government courses anyway, so taking an AP version where offered shows additional rigor compared to the regular version.

    In the context of the original question, it is skipping precalculus and calculus in favor of statistics and "advanced data analysis" that can be an issue.
    edited July 26
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  • spotup18spotup18 8 replies7 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @ucbalumnus I’m totally willing to admit that it is an issue and a definite blemish on my application. But is it THAT big of an issue? Like will a college reject me solely based on that? I still have time to mitigate that to some extent by taking pre-calc senior year. But I’d really really really prefer not to.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33100 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 26
    Could be huge. You want a major that, whether it makes sense or not, adcoms like to see math strengths for. You'd be surprised to learn how even small omissions can be enough to cast doubt.

    And precalc is NOT the only omission. Yes, some hs require civics or govt, (or art history.) But OP only has APUSH as the substantial history core and wants a poli sci major. Most of the viable applicants will have those required courses, APUSH, as well as AP World or AP Euro, often both. IF the hs doesn't offer those, ok. But that doesn't make his choices better to TT adcoms. The higher the tier, the more they expect a kid to come in ready to hit the ground running.

    I'm not trying to scare you. I just want you to stop and learn enough to know which colleges are your safeties and matches. Stats can be fine for humanities, but you still need the right other balance. (Precalc would be good, spare you the concern adcoms will think you shorted core math.) Data analysis doesn't replace core math.
    edited July 26
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33100 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Schools like AU and GWU are great for poli sci and DC is a great place to be in college. Look deeper into them.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 28774 replies56 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    WILL it hurt you, or COULD it hurt you?

    It depends upon what colleges are assessing you and what other attributes you have. You aren’t as good academically as many of those who are applying for spots at the most selective schools. A lot of them have taken AP Calc, the hard sciences , some AP even and excelled in them and you avoided those courses. Absolutely, you get dinged for that, all other things equal. If you have Olympic trial swim times, are a phenomenal rower or top rate football pick, no it wouldn’t matter. It also wouldn’t matter at the vast majority of colleges out there. But for the most selective ones, yes it would
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