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Art kid wants to drop AP Calc

morkatmommorkatmom 49 replies10 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
Soooo, I am trying to remain calm to my kids face but am freaking out inside. She's a Senior in a NYS public high school that offers IB and is in the top 10%-15% of her class. Stats are good, SAT 1520, ACT 33 GPA 96 U/W. School hasn't come out with class rankings yet because reasons yada yada yada. I know, they're very late. She isn't doing the full IB program because she didn't want the stress, so she's taken a rigorous load of IB and AP classes along with a smattering of electives that interest her. Her ECs are relevant to her interests and she has some leadership stuff, and a couple of jobs.
Illustration, Animation, Computer and Digital Art, Game Design are all on the table as a college major. Due to the expense she will not be able to attend art school, and she will need to chase some merit and/or selective meets need schools. Her dream schools are FIT (SUNY), Syracuse University and Northeastern (we ran the NPC's and they're doable). She will also be applying to Vassar, Carnegie Mellon, Tufts, USC, Cornell and Penn. (She knows those are unlikely to extremely unlikely but is throwing her hat in the ring anyway). SUNY Fredonia, Oswego, Oneonta, and Alfred are all likely admits and very affordable with their merit aid. FIT is portfolio driven so is an unknown and really doesn't have much merit except for the Honors college so isn't as affordable but we could do it. Stonybrook also looks interesting and is near the beach so she's interested in that but merit is unknown as well as admission.
The dilemma is, she wants to drop AP Calc because she's just done. She expects to do well as it came easily to her in IB math but she doesn't want to do the work. She doesn't seem to understand the numbers game right now, if she drops it her class rank will suffer as well as her GPA. I feel like she shouldn't even apply to the more selective schools so we could save the application fees, but that starts an argument because she thinks it won't matter since she's going to be an art major.
Has anyone else had a similar experience with their kiddo? If so, what was the outcome? I'm pretty sure her guidance counselor will talk her out of dropping but she can be stubborn sometimes so who knows for sure.
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Replies to: Art kid wants to drop AP Calc

  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33603 replies369 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 11
    If she doesn't want stress in high school, please don't send her off to a stressful college.

    Truth is, even art majors are expected to have rigorous academic rounding for the more competitive colleges on her list. And even as an art major, some will expect this same sort of rounding in their curriculum requirements, once in college. Maybe you two need to look at the courses required, once there.

    One of mine dropped out of AP calc, but back to honors level. It's a calculated risk and one needs to be cautious. Does sound like she has good backup choices in FIT and NEU. But be aware, for the others.
    edited September 11
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77793 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Check if any of the computer-related majors (computer game design or some such) that she may be interested in requires calculus. If so, then she can decide whether she wants to try to complete it or part of it in high school and not have to take it in college.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7004 replies50 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I was going to say the same thing about computer related majors. Without AP calc she may end up taking herself out of the running for the more competitive schools on her list.

    Whatever she does, be sure she still has math of some level this year and doesn't drop completely.
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  • mom2andmom2and 2820 replies19 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Has she talked to her guidance counselor? That may give her a better picture of what dropping Calc would do to her GPA and competitive advantage. What would she take in place of AP Calc?

    The reality is that it is her choice at this point and she will have to live with the consequences, if there are any. She may have a rigorous enough schedule without calc to do fine at her target colleges.
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  • Techno13Techno13 125 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I'd be more concerned about the "being done" part. Burn out in HS doesn't bode well for college. I don't think it's super important for an arts major to had AP Calc but dropping it doesn't look great-- can she replace with non-AP Calc?
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  • gpo613gpo613 323 replies21 threadsRegistered User Member
    My D19 didn't take AP Calc senior year. She took AP stats. She didn't get into elite schools, but she got the top of the range merit at the school she is at now.

    She is majoring in Biochem/PreMed. Her thought process was that she would have a tough time with Calc so she took Stats. She figured that she would have more time freshman year of college to study Calc compared to senior year of HS. This is true because she is not working in college and not doing college applications right now. Plus she passed the AP Stats test and it was a class she would need for one of her majors.

    Did not taking Calc hurt getting into the elite sure maybe, but realistically we would not been able to afford to send her to a need-based school.
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  • cag60093cag60093 224 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @morkatmom. Don't stress yet and have a honest discussion with your daughter. My D19 who is majoring in art had similar stats - 34 ACT, 1530 SAT, high GPA, etc, no IB (bc her HS does not offer), no ranking at HS either, but took mostly honors and AP classes. She took AP Calc AB which was not requirement. She was always a solid B+ or A- student in all her math classes, but she took them even though she didn't love math and felt she wasn't that good in math.

    Back last fall, she thought she wanted to attend an art school but she applied to many types of colleges - art specific schools, smaller private schools and our state flagship - Ringling, RISD, Pratt, USC (animation in the School of Cinematic Arts), WashU, Skidmore, Wesleyan, RIT, and our state' flagship. She got into all, with the exception of being waitlisted at Wesleyan and WashU. The flagship was my request, since it was the least expensive option even though our flagship's costs are considered high compare to other states' flagships.

    Ringling and Pratt offered 1/2 tuition merit awards, USC and RISD offered similar amounts in need aid, RIT's merit was less generous than USC and RISD, and Skidmore offered a surprising larger need aid that we didn't expect. Guess what, she decided to attend her flagship at the very end of the long process. It offered her a full ride scholarship for 4 years that she couldn't turn down; she's very practical. She's also very happy now that she took the calc class and got a 5 on the AP exam, because it got her out of 5 of 6 credits of the math requirement.

    Applying to art schools at a stand alone or at a larger university requires more work for the student because she has to submit a portfolio to each school and each school will want different things. There's no getting around the amount of work. She and you may want to look at her load honestly and see what's really doable. Senior year is a lot of work overall, and many students are stressed with keeping up with academics, EC, sports, college applications, jobs etc. I know my D was stressed and I wish she could have enjoyed her senior year. One thing she did was dropped her sport, which she played since 6. It was her choice and she felt relief from the extra time she gained.

    Your D seems like a strong academic student, things will work out for her.
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  • PetraMCPetraMC 735 replies5 threadsRegistered User Member
    Won't she need some compsci for some of those majors? I wouldn't drop calculus.
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  • AlwaysMovingAlwaysMoving 146 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I think I'm the 4th one to say calculus will probably come in handy in art school when she needs programming classes. My neighbor is a tenured art professor and he is always talking about the need for better programming skills instead of pencil and brush skills. Good luck!
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  • Techno13Techno13 125 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Calculus should not be required for most CompSci courses. However, image processing, computer modeling and simulation-- yes, Calc will come in handy. Still-- I don't think taking AP Calc in HS would be a necessity. Our HS also offer Calc (non-AP) which could be a good choice if available. Better to drop than get a C.
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  • mackinawmackinaw 2997 replies53 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 11
    I agree with Techno. AP Calc won't be a requirement or highly expected at any art school. (Architecture could be a different story.) It could be more helpful at a larger university, depending on what major and minor fields are chosen. But if she has excellent credentials, an excellent portfolio, and has completed a good and diverse curriculum, she doesn't have to be outstanding in math -- just good. Above all, she needs an excellent portfolio.

    My daughter applied only to art schools and programs. She refused to even apply to our state flagship(s). "I don't want to find myself in college sitting next to students from my high school." She wanted to break out, though kept close contact (even to this day, many years later) with several of her high school cohort.

    And so she applied to RISD, CMU, SCAD, MICA, and KCAI. She got into all of them. But an issue came up after she was admitted. In her last semester in HS she was performing very poorly in an advanced math class. I think she had the ability but by Spring of her senior year she was running out of gas. She had already committed to RISD. She contacted the school and was told that as long as she didn't fail that class her admission would still be good.

    I'm not recommending that anyone else take this as a simple lesson. But I think it says something more broadly. Art schools are mainly interested in artistic, creative talent. True they also value the ability to think in logical and mathematical terms. And my daughter was intent on majoring in Industrial Design. But her past math performance already showed that she had ability in that area. The RISD admissions office told her, "Just don't flunk that math class, because you need to pass it to meet all of your curricular requirements for admission." She focused on that course the last few weeks and passed the course, but not with a grade that she could be proud of. She attended RISD.

    Later on, after working a few years in the economy in industrial design she decided she wanted to earn an MBA. To prep for the GMAT she took a college-level refresher course in math, and she self-studied intensely for the exam using a Princeton Review program. She got excellent scores on both sides of the GMAT and was admitted to a top-10 business school. She had the math, the artistic ability, and also the business mind to carry her career to a new level.
    edited September 11
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2379 replies5 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 12
    "Vassar, Carnegie Mellon, Tufts, USC, Cornell and Penn."

    To really answer your question, especially about the schools above, it would be good to know if she's applying to the dept or college of Art in those schools where portfolio will be a part of admissions or a different school where it would be more grades/rigor/test scores based. If it's the former, she's probably ok dropping calc if it's being replaced by another math course. But as lookingforward mentioned, if she's not liking stress in h.s., most of the schools on her reach list are very stress inducing. CMU, Cornell, Penn can be intense, even for art majors.
    edited September 12
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  • compmomcompmom 10693 replies76 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I will PM you later. I know a student who dropped back in math on order to focus on a performing art , with lower stats, and got into very elite schools. Your daughter needs to submit a portfolio , art resume and letters from art teachers - in an arts supplement. I definitely think she could drop the calculus and stop fretting, if she has artistic talent and can show an ability to contribute to the mix of the class. Has she looked into Tufts’ degree with the Museum School? Also I agree with the comment about burnout. Senior year is tough. Feeling “ done” would indicate that the mental health benefits of dropping a burdensome class far outweigh any downsides to GPA etc.
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  • thumper1thumper1 74373 replies3255 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Can she switch to a regular calculus class...not AP?

    Life isn’t going to end if she doesn’t take AP Calc as a senior. Believe it or not, there are college freshmen who have never taken AP Calc, even at the elite schools.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77793 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "But as lookingforward mentioned, if she's not liking stress in h.s., most of the schools on her reach list are very stress inducing. CMU, Cornell, Penn can be intense, even for art majors.

    Also, trying to make art into a career may be stress inducing, because arts tend to be winner-take-all or elite-or-bust more than many other career directions.
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  • thumper1thumper1 74373 replies3255 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Elite or bust in the arts? @ucbalumnus what exactly do you mean?

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  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia 3430 replies23 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @morkatmom While I won't render an opinion about whether or not to continue with AP Calc, I will encourage your daughter to take a look at UT-Dallas, where her stats would be competitive for a full tuition award and where Illustration, Animation, Computer and Digital Art, Game Design are well supported. I know somebody who is currently enrolled there with those interests and is having a fantastic experience with lots of internship and other professional opportunities. It's not a pressure cooker and IIRC, it was fairly generous in accepting AP credits.
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  • bjscheelbjscheel 524 replies5 threadsRegistered User Member
    I can't speak as to whether she really needs to do AP Calc, but I am a big proponent of not overdoing to the point of the kid being miserable.
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  • morkatmommorkatmom 49 replies10 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks for sharing your insights everyone. Good news, her GC talked her out of it, she's staying in the class. She told me she was having a "bout of early onset senioritis" HA. It was the portfolio preparation in combination with upcoming IB Bio work that set it off. AP Calc is the only class that is available, no non-AP; there is a Statistics class but it's not AP. All the other math classes would be moving backward.

    She can handle it, she just didn't want to for a moment, I think that happens to many people. If I thought it would negatively impact her mental health I would be the first to insist she drop it. After contending with the mental illness of my older D, I have learned a lot about limits and recalibrating goals and expectations. Applying to elite schools as an art major has been her dream, not mine, I'm trying to help her get there and sometimes that means telling her things she doesn't want to hear. But luckily she has a great guidance counselor who went over her options (I think I owe the GC some ginger chocolate chip cookies when this app season is over).

    It was great to hear your thoughts, stories and advice, much appreciated. I had a feeling other people had some experience with this, it could not possibly be unique to my family. Hopefully someone will be able to look at this thread in the future and get something out of it. I know I did.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33603 replies369 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think we may need that cookie recipe, sounds great.

    Btw, it's not specifically whether one needs calculus as an art major, but the sort of problem-solving thinking that helps with digital tasks.
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