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Articles / Applying to College / Senior Calculus for Aspiring Artist?

March 1, 2015

Senior Calculus for Aspiring Artist?

Question: My daughter’s counselor is insisting she take a math senior year. She has taken advanced math classes since 8th grade (alegebra I, geometry advanced, algebra II advanced, pre-calculus advanced) and has no desire to take another math class that she will not enjoy or use (she wants to get a BFA in visual arts). Her counselor is strongly encouraging her to take Calculus even though none of the colleges she interested in are requiring 4 years of math. I’d prefer she take an academic class somewhat related to her intended major (she is thinking Anatomy might be useful) and maintain a higher GPA. Do you think no math senior year is a negative?

If your daughter is applying to hyper-selective colleges (e.g., the Ivies or any place that admits roughly 20 percent of its applicants, or fewer) then, unfortunately, senior calculus is probably good idea. Well, frankly, “The Dean” chokes a bit to say this since I do feel that, by 12th grade, a student who’s aiming for a BFA and who has endured as much math already as your daughter has really doesn’t need to continue with yet another math class. Even so, a lot of college officials who work at the most sought-after schools and who seem quick to tell kids to “follow their passions” are also the first ones to shunt an application into the Reject Pile when class choices are not viewed as adequately rigorous. At the Ivies and their ilk, the majority of successful applicants have taken math through calculus (and, often AP Calculus) regardless of prospective major.

BUT … if your daughter is not aiming for such schools, then anatomy is a great choice. As a science class, it will balance out the arts and humanities classes on her course roster, and it meshes a lot better with her future goals than calculus will. But do be diplomatic when you break the news to the guidance counselor because, remember, this is the person who will be writing your daughter’s college recommendations!


 

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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