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Articles / Applying to College / Seeing Double? Explaining Duplicate Calc Grades on Transcript

Seeing Double? Explaining Duplicate Calc Grades on Transcript

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Jan. 25, 2013

Question: My daughter is a strong student who started struggling in AP Calc and got the first low grade in her life. She then decided to take the class online via a state-approved virtual school (while concurrently completing the school course) and will get a B+ or A- in the online class. So her transcript will show TWO calculus grades. Does the guidance counselor need to explain this to colleges?

SOMEONE needs to provide a brief explanation to the colleges so they'll know why there are TWO calc grades on the transcript. It could certainly come from the counselor but it could also come from your daughter instead.


Ideally, if your daughter provides the explanation, it would be along the lines of, "I felt that I wasn't really learning calculus via my school class and I wanted to understand it better" rather than, "I was getting crummy grades that were torpedoing my GPA so I figured I'd improve the average with a virtual class."

Similarly, if you think the counselor would make the explanation more about the grade than about the quest for knowledge, then it might be best for your daughter to provide it.

BUT ... the counselor may already be planning to comment on the anomaly. So your first step (or your daughter's) is to ask the counselor if s/he expects to mention it. If yes, then try to get a sense of what the counselor plans to say. Perhaps your daughter can gently "suggest" to the counselor that she chose the online class for reasons beyond GPA-boosting.

Anyway, the lower grade in a tough class is not a big deal, even if it feels like at least a semi-big one to you since it's atypical. But the colleges do need to know why they're "seeing double" calc on the transcript, and that reason should highlight your daughter's determination to learn the subject matter (even though it meant extra work) rather than to merely mitigate a low grade.

Again, it's no biggie, so try not to lose too much sleep over this. I'm sure there will be other things that can keep you up at night, if you feel the need to watch Law & Order reruns or infomercials at 3 a.m. ;-)

(posted 1/25/2013)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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