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Impact of dropping a class 2nd semester senior year?


Replies to: Impact of dropping a class 2nd semester senior year?

  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 31,520 Senior Member
    You made the right choice. Congratulations to your son for his hard work (ACT math 24 -> calculus shows real dedication, even just a semester of it).
    However I would recommend he sticks with Environmental SCIENCE vs. Studies, as it is considered more rigorous and has better professional outcomes or graduate school prospects.
    And now, time to enjoy senior year! :)
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,621 Senior Member
    Your son should major in what he wants to major in. My son is a poli sci major with an MPA and his work/career has been consistently focused on environmental policy related work. He has worked in the past in the nonprofit sector and now has government employment. I don't think the undergrad degree means anything at all. I do think within his specific career focus he might have a leg up if he had an engineering background -- there is some crossover between policy and planning -- but there's always the option to pick up certificates if they will enhance career prospects.

    But the reason my son has the job he has is because of a work resume showing a sustained interest in the field, supplemented with volunteer activity.

  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 31,520 Senior Member
    ^I agree with you - sustained interested as demonstrated by leadership, internships, volunteering, will be essential and is more important than the major itself. But overall, because there's environmental science *and* environmental studies, the latter is seen as "ES minus the science", which may not be exact (but can be). So the "list of relevant courses" for an Environmental Studies major will have to clearly establish scientific knowledge, not just social knowledge. Environmental policy BTW is a great field.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,621 Senior Member
    But my point is that undergrad doesn't really matter that much in the field For the jobs that really do require scientific knowledge, a grad degree is probably needed. And to get into a graduate science program, a student would need the prerequisites --- but OP's bigger problem would that the schools he is looking into are not typically feeders into PhD programs. (And again, nothing wrong with that -- my son is a graduate of a CSU) Just that had he received a BS rather than a BA from his CSU, I doubt it would have made much of a difference in terms of employment.

    Bottom line, outside of fields like computer science and engineering, most undergraduate degrees don't directly qualify students for specific careers. They need to either be supplemented with work experience and/or graduate level studies. My son was employed in an environmental advocacy position immediately after college graduation - so he didn't need his grad degree to get a job. The reason he went to grad school is that he got laid off during the recession, when other employment prospects weren't that great -- so it made sense at the time to return to school to enhance his credentials (as well as give him access down the road to the graduate university's career placement services, which has proven to be very helpful).
  • eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,095 Senior Member
    @MYOS1634 and @calmom

    I agree with both of you. However I really think the actual major is going to come down to the curriculum and what interests him the most. It is an incredible variety of offerings depending on the school and some of what seems to "fit" better may be more on the studies and policy side, yet aren't necessarily short on science. However, some of the "science" options can be quite short on the policy aspect and he does want both. My comment was directed towards one specific program and what that one offers versus the science curriculum. It is a school where it could be hard to switch, and graduate on time, not a lot of crossover despite both being housed in the same colelge of the environment and natural resources. Due to that he needs to dig into what seems like it will be best to minimize risk. Both my H and had been pushing the science over the studies but at the end of the day, he needs to choose what interests him most and where he will be the most successful and H and I are coming around to the idea that it may not be the science side.

    It does not help that his bleeding heart could really care less if he makes much money, as long as it's sustainable.

    Either way, consistent passion in an area demonstrated through research, work and volunteer activity (which yes, all showed in his apps and helped compensate for that 24 I am sure) goes as far, or farther, than the actual degree. Work ethic is not an area I am worried about at all. The reverse is more likely and quite probably a compounding factor in the current situation. But. He is well rounded, passionate and involved. He works hard on things he truly cares about. His areas of interest come through very clearly and I'll take that....over the calc class.

    That said, he does not have the temperament or interest or passion, in my opinion, for engineering. I am married to one, and work for an engineering firm. He is far too out of the box to survive engineering undergrad. We looked at fairly heavily for a while but I don't see that as his path. At least not right now. There certainly are some certificate programs out there that could make sense at some point but we will see.

    Thanks again
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,621 Senior Member
    edited February 16
    Your son sounds a lot like mine -- my son did better in high school than yours & had much stronger test scores, but floundered in college because of that need for passion as a motivator. In high school he could wing it and get away with minimal effort for the classes that didn't appeal to him, but that didn't work in college -- so when he went off to a demanding college, he ended up with a 3.0 GPA that was formed from a combination of A's & C's and D's. With the A's in the classes you would think would be the toughest (like Chemistry) -- but I think he needed challenge to sustain interest, and at college #1 he couldn't get away with turning in a b.s. paper with minimal effort. (He later transferred to college #2 where his GPA went up, in part because the school was a much better fit for his learning style.)

    It is common for kids to change their majors in college, and it isn't a matter of how courses are described in the course catalog. Once on campus students quickly figure out that the professor teaching the course is a lot more important than the course description, and that there is an overall ambiance to various departments that may make one major more or less attractive than others. Since your son is gravitating toward smaller schools, those factors will take on even greater importance, because there will be fewer professors to choose from - so if the prof who teaches core classes within a certain department turns out to be a problem (for whatever reason).. that may be the driving factor for a change of major. It tends to happen in more subtle ways -- your son is unlikely to come home and tell you that he has decided not to major in environmental whatever because professor so-and-so is a jerk. -- it is far more likely that your son just takes some class in some other department from Professor Awesome, and decides he wants to sign up the next semester for another course taught by Professor Awesome.... and pretty soon he's an Awesome acolyte dead set on majoring in whatever it is that Professor Awesome was teaching -- even more likely if Professor Wonderful also teaches in the same department.

    And that's fine. Your 18 year old high school senior needs to choose a college where he can explore and grow. My son who now works in the field yours aspires to entered college as "undecided" and didn't have a clue what he wanted to focus on. He was a "maybe Chemistry" student. Life took him in other directions.
    It is a school where it could be hard to switch, and graduate on time, not a lot of crossover despite both being housed in the same college of the environment and natural resources.

    That may be a downside to the particular school -- so something to consider carefully -- because most college students will change their major. I do think that in general it's easier to switch away from a science oriented major to the non-science major rather than the other way around, because science courses are taught with prerequisites and course sequences that have to be followed.

    But I think as an parent you should assume that there is a fairly strong likelihood that your son will change majors or focus . Apparently roughly 80% of undergrads change their majors at least once during their undergrad careers... though I am having some difficulty verifying that statistic -- nonetheless, I think it's safe to put "change of major" in the category of "more probable than not."

    You might look at his calculus episode as a useful warning -- you don't want your son in a situation where he is boxed in if he encounters a similar roadblock at the college level.
  • eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,095 Senior Member
    I have no assumptions that he will stick to this as a major. He has no such assumptions. It is an area of strong interest and passion and one in which we can see different career path options and has served as a starting point, or more accurately a current point given that he started out looking at Environmental Engineering.

    Versus say, poli sci. which is a fabulous thing to study. As is philosophy. But even harder than environmental studies (by way of example) to find any kind of related career path from the major itself, outside of law school. As a poly sci major myself I do confess to having a preference for a more easily translated type of degree. I changed majors. I get it, completely. I also get the dangers of a small school if one chooses it for a specific program.

    It is a quandary to be sure. Will he do best in a LAC that will nurture him and let him explore, knowing that he could end up majoring in something completely esoteric? Would he do better in a larger but not huge school that has lots of options, is very deep in his area of interest but may be harder to switch gears? Is there an in between? More importantly, is there an in between he actually likes, is affordable and that he has been accepted to? We do not have those answers yet. It is part of what stresses him out despite us clearly telling him he does not have to know now.

    But really, what path am I willing to pay for? Pricer option that is deep but hard to switch might be harder to justify the price tag for if said switching happens. That's an entirely different question to which I don't have a clear answer yet. This is not a child who is focused on a masters program or PhD...but also one who doesn't rule it out at some point. Nor does he rule out law school, though I am not a fan of that idea at all for multiple reasons.

    What I hope my son has learned from this is a few things. First, he knows he can fight through something if he really wants to. We've seen him do it in AP Physics and in Spanish. He is not a natural student and he works very hard for the grades he does get, the ADHD certainly doesn't help. He also knows when to cry uncle and if he is truly over his ski tips. Both skills are needed for college success. I'd rather he call for help and know help will be there than to drown for the sake of drowning (pride).
  • eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,095 Senior Member
    edited February 21
    Quick update on notification results

    Accepted at 7, notified 6 as one school has since fallen off.

    2 out of office replies with no direct contact yet.

    1 "thanks for letting us know, we will update your file"

    1 "thanks for letting us know and best wishes for a strong finish"

    1 "thanks for letting us know, I see no issues on our end"

    1 "thanks for letting us know. This will not have a negative impact to your candidacy to xxx college and I really appreciate your mature approach on this matter.

    So...so far so good I guess and we stay turned. "Strong finish" school is the one that required 4 years of high school math and one that he provided a more detailed explanation to his email so I guess that means they're OK with it? I would've liked a little more clarity along the lines of the very clear statements made by the other two.

    I will say the two that provided the reassuring statements went up in my book, that was very thoughtful and appreciated.
  • profdad2021profdad2021 Registered User Posts: 397 Member
    If any explanation is requested to explain the dropped course - has he already gotten the B- in the first semester? That is a solid grade but could motivate a kid to say, hey, I don't want to move on with more calculus until I solidify my understanding of that first semester material, so I'm going to stop calculus now. and start over at the beginning in college. This will give me a stronger understanding of the basics.
  • eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,095 Senior Member
    He actually did provide a brief explanation along those lines (hence the mature manner comments) and then was a bit more specific with the school that wanted 4 years of HS math.

  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 31,520 Senior Member
    They're all saying on their own words that it doesn't matter. The 4-year one is saying 'it's okay as long as he's keeping his grades in the other subjects '. Well-done.
  • eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,095 Senior Member
    @MYOS1634 that was my interpretation as well and thankfully I've no worries about the strong finish now.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 31,520 Senior Member
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,621 Senior Member
    edited February 21
    Versus say, poli sci. which is a fabulous thing to study.... But even harder than environmental studies (by way of example) to find any kind of related career path from the major itself, outside of law school

    This simply is not the case, and comes from a very narrow view of what one can do with an undergraduate major. Both my kids were poli sci majors, both initially had jobs related to their majors, neither went into law. As a lawyer myself, I understand that viewpoint --it is probably the world view I had back in the day when I was applying to law school ... but that really doesn't reflect the real universe of employment opportunities out there.

    My kids have both gone on to get advanced degrees but neither needed the advanced degree for employment-- but both were in the workforce for several years between undergrad & starting grad school, and my poli-sci major daughter actually still works for the same company as she did before starting grad school. (She worked full time and attended grad school at night, and over the course of 3 year got herself promoted past the level that she thought she needed the grad degree to attain. )

    I'm going to send you a PM outlining my son's career path in more detail.
  • eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,095 Senior Member
    I was a Poli Sci major. And while it did not hold me back, per-se, it also definitely did not provide a direct career path. Which is ok. I've done well, albeit not remotely any kind of direct path. My large state school didn't provide any guidance, but nor did I seek any. Internships were not paid, so not an option. I personally do not think it is as easy to find jobs with more of a general liberal arts degree than with something that has a more linear path. It doesn't mean it's not possible, of course it is. Conversely, for law school, I actually think there is far more freedom for undergrad.

    What I see today is a higher and higher reliance on specialists, not generalists. I see it who we hire at my last 2 major companies, and to this day in the types of opportunities offered/available to me. I've done quite well with that degree, forging a career in business development and marketing. But. I could leverage it better, even today, despite a successful career, if that degree was in marketing directly or better yet if I had an advanced degree. It's not an impossible path, it just may be a harder one. And that's ok too. My point only was that I am not sure I am willing to pay up to or over the budget for a school that is a "general" great fit, versus spending that extra money for the value of a specific programs strength.

    Not that he can't study poli sci, I just am not sure I see the point of paying twice as much to do so.
This discussion has been closed.