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Impact of dropping a class 2nd semester senior year?

eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,099 Senior Member
We have 3 days to decide whether my son should drop a class (AP Calc AB). If he drops it by friday, it will not show on his transcript. He had a B- for 1st semester on the transcripts that will go out to his colleges.

He is absolutely losing his mind.

What kind of impact would this have on his acceptances and or merit awards? I'm not worried about the impact of the B- but of the non-continuance.

I've a call into his GC but would love any input. While I am not remotely a fan of this idea (and my H likely to be far less so) I am very concerned about his state of mind and stress level. He is doing tutoring at school, does not want to do any beyond that (though of course we can make him). Depending on what path his coursework takes in college he may not need Calc.


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

  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 21,028 Senior Member
    I assume he has listed this course on his application and his mid year transcript also shows the course. He would need to notify adcoms on dropping the course.
  • Erin's DadErin's Dad Super Moderator Posts: 34,398 Super Moderator
    ^ This. I think most colleges won't hold it against him. An exception might be the UCs if he were going for a STEM major.
  • Emsmom1Emsmom1 Registered User Posts: 801 Member
    My nephew dropped two classes (computer science and Western Civ) after first semester because he was stressed and had five other academic classes even without those two. I had him email each admissions committee and tell them about the schedule change. Not sure how or if it will affect his chances but better to let them know.
  • happy1happy1 Registered User Posts: 18,524 Senior Member
    edited February 14
    If the course is listed on his application then he would have to notify colleges that he has dropped the course. Nobody here can predict how admissions officers will view dropping the course. I'd say that if he can keep a B-/C average that he should strongly consider keeping the course.
  • eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,099 Senior Member
    He does not feel he can pass the semester. I would agree it it was a B-/C situation. We will see if the teacher and GC can convince him otherwise.

    His mid year transcript would show the B- from first year semester but the mid year report would indicate the schedule change.
  • beth's mombeth's mom Registered User Posts: 3,361 Senior Member
    Whether dropping the course will matter depends on the schools he has applied to, and he'll need to notify them of the schedule change. My daughter dropped an English class senior year and none of her schools (all state flagships) cared. Is your HS one where kids take Calc AB before BC or is it an either/or? If he hasn't already had A/B, could he drop into a regular calculus class, so he still has a full year of calc and perhaps will gain a better understanding of the material?

    Regardless of the college situation, if he wants to drop because he's under a lot of stress and not in a good place, as opposed to because he has senioritis, I would actually encourage him to drop it. Some of these kids have really heavy workloads and are under a lot of stress, and the point does come when they exhaust their internal resources and can't cope with it any more. If a kid who normally handles these things and doesn't have a history of dropping classes is asking to drop, he might be at his breaking point. Best to drop before other classes are affected.
  • eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,099 Senior Member
    edited February 14
    There is no regular calculus class to drop down to. That would be preferable but not an option. The reality is there really isn't anything to drop down to in math and I don't see the point of a random elective as a replacement. He can't start AP stats mid year. Our school does AB for a full year and is required for BC. Normal advanced track is AB senior year. Very very few kids take BC.

    Definitely stress and not senioritis. Not that there isn't some of that there but he's neglecting the AP classes he enjoys to try and survive the one he hates. He's never asked to drop a thing before and was not in a good place.

    We are pulling the plug. I don't think it will impact any of his schools but he was willing to take the risk that it might, which told me all I needed to know. We've got one flagship, one regional state school and 4 LAC's to notify, not sure we will bother with the private university that we've mentally cut for cost reasons already. We've not notified them that he doesn't plan to attend end yet though.

    It does leave him with only 3 academic classes which I don't like but he has to take PE to graduate and the rest are year long music classes he's always done (and applied for and received non major scholarships for) so those aren't going anywhere.

    No UC's, possibly STEM light (environmental studies/policy) not super selective schools, all EA admits.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 8,346 Senior Member
    edited February 14
    Oh absolutely drop it. The last thing he needs is to burn out and not be able to go at all, which happens.

    Our school nurse always said "the seniors are a mess." I know so many who were so stressed at this stage of the game that they could barely function.

    And every single one of them thrived at college because their wise parents gave them some slack in senior year and the school also accommodated their needs.

    And better to drop than fail, of course, too.

    These kids are all burned out and then they have to jump into the new situation at college. A bit of a break is a great idea I think.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 63,525 Senior Member
    He should be aware that calculus in college will cover material at a faster pace than AB in high school does.
  • eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,099 Senior Member
    @compmom he is already lighter. Significantly. MIne is not a kid who calls crying from the bathroom. It was a rought afternoon. He basically found himself having a bit of a panic attack, kind of out of nowhere in some ways and predictable in others. But now he excited to really be able to focus on APES and AP Lit, classes he loves. My H is being great about it too which helps a LOT.

    It's the right thing. And if it hurts him somewhere, well then that wasn't the right place. I hope not, I don't think so but I do feel it was the right call. I am sad more than anything he felt he "had" to take it in the first place when it likely was never the right call. And a bit sad we didn't start out with a tutor from day one to set him up for success but honestly, for what he wants to do, (in theory) I am not sure it's at all needed anyway.

  • eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,099 Senior Member
    edited February 14
    @ucbalumnus he is aware of that, as are we. However not all of his schools, for his current areas of interest, will require calculus. But it is a risk and a possibility and one that will be weighed as he finalizes his school choice.

    I would be surprised at any kind of rescindence, he exceeded admissions requirements at all his schools without it and was admitted EA with merit at all. But it's definitely not going to garner him additional merit beyond the pending possible talent scholarships.
  • CoyoteMomCoyoteMom Registered User Posts: 169 Junior Member
    edited February 15
    @eandesmom -- I totally agree with you that many high school students would be better served to to skip calculus and take a statistics/probability class instead (needed not just for say sociology and psychology as well as environmental policy in college -- but just to be an informed citizen to sift through various bits of information from political polls to effectiveness of medical treatments to understanding weather predictions and climate change).

    Just to add some thoughts to the ucbalumnus comment about the pace of calculus in college:

    1) it is possible that a student *may* be able to handle faster/deeper material in college than in high school, simply by giving their brain another year or two to mature. ADHD kids in particular are known to be a few years behind, though I don't know if this general pattern of brain development would help with understanding calculus.


    2) if your Son decides he *does* need calculus in college (say, he prefers environmental science to environmental policy) - one strategy that worked for me was to take Calculus over the summer. I managed to get through Calc. I just fine, but Calc II turned out to be an 8am class for which I was lax in attendance. I did not manage to withdraw, and earned the F I deserved -- but I retook over the summer as my only class (in addition to a 40-hour/week summer job), and earned an A+ from NJIT...being able to concentrate on just one class (not to mention actual attendance plus doing the homework) made all the difference -- and in your Son's case, having a tutor lined up right from the beginning would probably prevent getting lost along the way....

    ETA: I have found my ADHD son seems to learn math better when he has 1-to-1 help. I homeschooled him for both Algebra I and Algebra II (long story - was assigned a dreadful teacher for Alg II - so his high school let me teach him instead). He is also taking Calc AB, and got lost and bottomed out with a D+ until I found him a tutor - that 1-to-1 time just really helped it all click for my son. Absolutely no one should struggle with a high school class where it takes 4 hours to complete homework that is presumably taking other students a more reasonable amount of time - to me, that sounds like there is a disconnect between the teacher's methods and the student's learning style. Yay for you and the school recognizing the (unnecessary) stress and taking action!
  • eandesmomeandesmom Registered User Posts: 3,099 Senior Member
    @CoyoteMom thank you for such a lovely thoughtful response.

    I have had many of those thoughts. The ADHD plus being very young for the grade (June bday) has often been an issue in general maturity over the years. He bit off more than he could chew this year. He really felt he had to take it, that it was the only option and so honestly didn't consider anything else (and the only option would have been stats for math). He's teetered on the edge many a time before but has been able to soldier through it. It does not help that we start after Labor Day so have a month or more less than many schools to cram in the curriculum before the AP tests (and then have 6 weeks of nothing).

    I'm actually pleased with the self awareness to cry uncle before the point of no return. He's a lot of things but a quitter is not one of them. I do think that time will help. I also agree that taking it as a solo summer course could serve him very well. If he does end up having to take it. And he might. Or might not.

    I dropped 3 classes in college, something he does not know. All within the safe window (Econ, geology and an art history class that at 8 am made me fall asleep). It made for some heavy credit loads later to graduate in time but I pulled it off. I also took logic as my math class (an option at one of his schools) and it truly was one of my favorite classes of all time. I wish I'd taken stats. My father taught them so somehow I an odd aversion but really it would have been sooooo useful.

    My engineer/MBA husband with his 3 degrees didn't take math at all his senior year.

    I agree on the teacher. She is quite young and really hasn't been helpful at all though she means well. She just directs him back to the book and doesn't explain, or attempt a different way of explanation which is clearly needed. She has yet to respond to me at all and I am not a parent who reaches out for teachers at all.

    He will be ok and he will have support. The task now is to determine which college will best provide that support.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,664 Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus -- I have an advanced degree and my 2 kids have masters... and none of us ever took a calculus course in college. In fact, the only college math either of my kids took was basic stats. (And my son is good in math - had an easy time with high school calculus, and a perfect score on the math GRE.... but he didn't need to take calc for his college major so it just didn't fit into his schedule).

    There are all sorts of reasons why eandesmom's son may be struggling and may not have the same struggles if he opts to take calculus in college. Maybe he just needs more time, maybe he'll have more motivation or more maturity in college or better textbook or better teacher that will get him past whatever mental roadblocks he has encountered so far.

    But if he doesn't get past that.... then he can do well in college and well in life. It's ok.

    @eandesmom -- I think you made the right choice. Many students still enter college without having ever attempted a high school calculus class - it wasn't offered at my daughter's high school, and students who aren't on an advanced math track in high school level might not have the opportunity even if they do want the class. Your son's mental health is more important, and I seriously doubt that it will impact college admissions or that the EA schools will even care. It would be different if your son was applying to a school like MIT .. but he isn't. The schools don't expect kids to be perfect.
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 29,718 Senior Member
    I generally am a huge advocate of taking calculus as part of being an educated person, however not everyone is ready at the same time. I took calculus at 16 and did fine, but I always felt I was just barely getting it, I bombed the AP. After three years of taking no math at all, I took it again and wondered why it had ever seemed difficult. Since it's causing so much stress, I think he should cut his losses. If he needs it, he can take it later.
This discussion has been closed.