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? for parents of college-age kids

14 years ago

It's me again, obsessing about DS and college.

I never took Statistics in high school so I don't know anything about it. My son, who will be a senior this year -- and hates math and science -- is being encouraged by his guidance counselor to take a math or science class even though he has taken enough to satisfy any college's requirements. Apparently his courseload looks too "light" because he is taking 2 English classes, 1 History, Video Production II (he wants to go to film school so this is essential), and Art History (didn't get his first choice here, which was Photography). So they are suggesting he switch Art History for Statistics. He barely got through Algebra and Algebra II -- we had to get a tutor for Algebra II last year and he still got a C. Geometry was a little better, but mainly because he had an easy teacher. So, being a non-math person myself, I have no idea how Stats compares with the other maths. If you are terrible at Algebra, will you also be terrible at Stats? And for anyone whose kids have already gone to college, do you think it will really hurt him to have the courses I listed this year? He wants to go to a liberal arts school with a good film production major -- his GPA is not great, so he's not applying to what many would consider "top" schools. Our list includes Emerson (unlikely that he will get in, although he is doing their film program this summer), Hampshire, Champlain, Keene State, Quinnipiac, and SUNY Purchase, for anyone who's curious!

p.s. He goes to a very small school, so there are not a lot of options for varied math classes. Pretty much the only math class that would fit into his schedule is Statistics. And the only science would be Chemistry II, which seems to really be designed for kids who want to study science in college.

Comments (36)

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sue,
    Take a look under the Admissions criteria page for the colleges on his list. Most colleges we have been looking at are pretty specific about what their admitted students need to have on their transcripts.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I took a statistics class in college after I'd been out of high school for quite a few years (over 10) and I'd have to say it was the easiest math class I ever took. I don't know if high school stats is any different but it was actually a fun class.

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  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Let me share my math experience. When I took Algebra as a HS freshman I got a D the first quarter. I was a straight A student otherwise. The teacher said it should have been an F. I never got a D in my life.

    The next two quarters of Algebra I got a C- and a C. Then the last quarter we concentrated on Statistics. I got an A for that quarter. Everyone else had a tough time with the Statistics and many started failing. Weird.

    In college I failed Algebra 100. Note that that is not Algebra 101. I couldn't test into the first level 101 course and had to take the 100 level which was considered two thirds high school review and only garnered one credit even though you paid for three. BTW, I tested out of all the other intro courses in other areas, and started with junior level courses in college and a junior standing, except for math.

    When it came time to take Statistics, which was a required course, I sailed through it. Everyone else I talked to found it "hard".

    I think I was a victim of *New Math* which was the fad to teach back when I was in grade school and has since been scrapped as a bad idea. I think that some minds can't "do" algebra but it does not mean that one is incompetent in other areas.

    How about getting a text book on statistic from the library and have your son try to get through the first chapter? If he finds it a cinch, have him take the course. I have the feeling he might do fine.

    Whatever though, make sure he is taking courses that the college will look at for admission. Getting a C in a course that is required for admission, is better than no course learning at all. Even if the college makes a special dispensation for the lack of a required course, he may be at a disadvantage when competing with the other students if he does not have any background in it.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Just to clarify, as I stated in the original post, he has already taken all the math and science classes that colleges want. We have checked with every school he's applying to -- the 3 years of math, 3 years of science, and 3 years of foreign language are what they require, and he has done all that. The issue is that the guidance counselor feels his courses for next year are lacking enough "hard academic" classes (because he has 2 arts and only 3 English and/or History). I think this is ridiculous, because taking any math or science is going to drag his GPA down -- unless he has a similar experience to Dilly in Stats, but what if he doesn't?

    Good idea to look at a Stats textbook. He is away at a summer program for the next 3 weeks, so we can't do anything like that until he gets back.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    A few different thoughts:

    1) Some will disagree, but I really think Art History is a fluff course; I recall just watching slides of important pieces of art across the historical spectrum, visiting a museum or two--a lot of memorization. But it will help shape his cultural outlook; maybe he'll develop a love of a certain art style.

    2) Are you sure the guidance counselor is 100% clear on your son's professional goals?

    3) Choosing not to take a statistics course on the basis of whether it might lower the GPA, to me, is a wrong path. Do we choose certain subjects because of how they can inform us and develop us and challenge us? Or do we avoid some because of the potential harm they can do to the GPA? That's something each student and his/her parent must sit down and discuss together.

    4) I don't think there is any correlation between the varied math subjects. I hated algebra but did fine in geometry. (I took statistics in college but dropped it after 2 weeks because the teacher was terrible; so the quality of the teacher is another factor you can't always see beforehand.)

    5) Has he taken the PSAT (or whatever's given in your area)? How did his scores look? GPA is a very important factor in college admissions, granted, but it's one of several.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I have to run out the door,so this is a quick reply- may post more later tonight. But we had the same situation last year- DS's senior yr in HS. DS absolutely refused to take anymore math, even tho' his advisor strongly advised it for college admissions.

    He applied to 3 colleges, one of which was Champlain. He was admitted to all three, including the one he is going to which had an 80% jump in applications due to it being a small selective state school.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Your guidance counselor has a point- in addition to taking the required number of math and science courses the admissions department at colleges are also looking to make sure seniors aren't slacking their final year. They want to see if the prospective applicant is still actively learning and preparing himself for their freshman year.

    I've sent 3 off to college and I've gone through this before. Art history is usually considered an easy course. I can't advise on math and statistics - that's my weak area.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm not familiar with the schools your son wants to attend. But for schools I'm familiar with, there's a difference between the courses colleges "require" and the courses kids should take in high school if they want to be sure they get admitted. At least for the schools that have more competitive admissions. For some colleges what is "required" is just fine, but for others what is "required" is the minimum threshold of what they will consider - which means if your son is competing for limited slots against better qualified applicants he won't be admitted.

    At the colleges I'm familiar with, the schools look at a variety of factors - SAT or ACT scores, extra curricular activities, high school GPA, etc. So whether or not your son needs to take an extra math class may depend partly on how marginal a candidate he is for that school. If his SAT or ACT scores are very high, his GPA is high, his extracurriculars are great, at least compared to the other applicants, he may not need that math class.

    Some high school counselors are very knowledgeable about what colleges are looking for and some are not. Ideally the high school counselor should be a wonderful source of help - every year she sees the transcript of hundreds of seniors who are admitted, she should be in a great position to know what your son needs. If the admissions process is not very competitive, or if your son is near the top in the pool of applicants, then he may not need the math course. But if the school is very competitive, or if your son is in the bottom third of the pool of applicants, then I'd listen to the counselor.

    If your son does not get admitted to his school of choice for his freshman year, then he can hopefully still transfer into that college later, for his sophomore year. I know many kids who were able to transfer into their school of choice their sophomore or even junior year.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I know your talking about high school but...

    Since he's going into film, besides a liberal arts college, did he look at private art and design schools?

    Depending on the art/design school or institute they can be far more concentrated in study by either having the general education courses (math and science type) involve the curriculum with art and creativity or those course aren't required and are replaced by more arts and humanities courses.

    Also sometimes the art and design schools can offer better contacts into companies for jobs after graduation.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I realized I didn't answer the math question. I'm familiar with both maths, and who knows if your son will do better in statistics than algebra. Some kids do better at one type of math than another, while some kids have difficulty with any type of math. And as another poster pointed out, it partly depends on the teacher.

    With regard to what barb5 said, my son also had a similar situation - he refused to take 3 years of a foreign language, even though it was a "requirement" for one of the schools he applied. He was quickly accepted anyway, BUT he was a very strong candidate in every other area - compared to other applicants he was near the top in SAT scores, high school GPA, and rigor of high school classes taken. A very strong candidate for a school can better afford to have weak spots on their application.

    Regarding Art History - my son said the Advanced Placement Art History courses at his high school are surprisingly difficult - not as difficult as some of the Advanced Placement Physics and Calculus, but not a fluff course, either. I would agree with the above posters that a regular Art History class has a reputation as fluff.

    If your son is a film major, he will have the opportunity to take Art History at his college later. Right now he needs to focus on what he needs to do to be admitted.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi again Sue,
    Daisy said it better than I did -even if he has met the college "requirements" it is more valuable to see where he stacks up against the new freshman class. Not every college publishes this, but some of the ones my son and I have looked at publish profiles of the incoming class -and include the kind of info you are trying to analyze. You might also look at collegeboard.com, for your target colleges.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    He's going to film school--stats won't do him any good. Art history is a good idea--looking at great art will develop his eye. Has he taken any theater classes? I think Emerson/Hamsphire will care more about that than additional math. I'm sure his counselor is clueless.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Daisy beat me to it--Sue, what colleges *require* is far from what they *prefer* to see. Admissions offices are looking very hard at applicants and they will always choose the ones who have taken a more rigorous course load. That includes not only the number of core academics but the weighting, ie honors, AP or IB compared to 'college prep' level classes.

    In the past you have noted that your son's GPA is low as are his test scores. Now you are adding to the mix that he will be applying with a weak HS record...frankly the courses you list are very much a subpar set for any kind of competitive college.

    So now the challenge is prove me wrong :). I hope he gets into the college of his choice. But as someone who works in a university and sees a LOT of the behind the scenes admissions activity--there are an awful lot of red flags popping up about your son's choices and record so far.

    Take care
    Ann

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think you should look at the curriculum of his intended major and see what math/science requirements he will have. Regardless of his degree, most colleges require a certain number of math and science classes to complete their degree. This may not be the case in a true film/art school, but for a liberal arts degree I would think he would be required to take some additional college math/sciences.

    As far as his GPA, I would think that wouldn't matter all that much. They will base his application almost entirely on his transcript through his Junior year. They will look at his course load for his senior year to insure he's not done with classes at 10:30 am. They like to see that the student isn't blowing off their senior year.

    The only time I've heard of senior year grades even being a factor is if the kid is getting a full ride somewhere and they want to confirm his academics didn't fall off senior year, or if he is on the bubble of being accepted to some special program and classes taken that senior year show aptitude that wasn't evident in prior years.

    My two cents is my senior is taking a full course load this year - but his school requires it. He's not taking the extra hard english comp class - that was too much torture to ask of him! But he's taking calculus, english, AP physics, religion, world history and French.

    I can relate to your son personally because I was terrible in math in HS. I stopped taking it as well as soon as I could because I hated it so much and at the time, it wasn't required to graduate, so I didn't take anymore. What I found to be the biggest issue for me was I forgot everything I had learned in that year or two between taking HS math and having to take math in college. So, I had to take a remedial math class in college! So since I tested so poorly in my entrance math exam, I ended up having to take more math classes in college to make up for what I didn't take in HS.

    I took stats too, and I'd say it's not as hard as Algebra II, but it's very formula driven, so lots of word problems and figuring out what formula he needs to use to solve the problem. If his college degree will require stats, I'd take it in HS to give him some exposure. If it won't be, I would choose a math class that will give him another stab at college algebra - perhaps they have another math class that will give him some more math foundation to help him in college. Otherwise, he's going to find himself in remedial math class that you'll be paying college credit hours for that he could have taken in HS.

    I know its hard to get a senior motivated to take classes that they don't want to, and thankfully, my son's school doesn't give them an option or I'm sure we'd be in the same boat with him not wanting to take all those classes this year either.

    I would just take the tactic that he's still preparing himself for college, and any math he can take senior year will keep it fresh in his mind and make it all that easier to place where he needs to be come time to take his math placement test at college orientation. He might find he only needs a basic college algebra class for an art type major and if he does well on his placement test he might not even have to take math in college - maybe that would be his motivation to take some math senior year - stats I don't know that will help him, but some type of algebra class would be very beneficial.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sueb, I posted briefly above. This is our experience: DS has always had trouble in math and in the quantitative sciences. We have always had a tutor help him, and we feel he has tried as best he could at something that he basically has little to no aptitude for. However, he has definate talents in other areas, in particular he writes beautifully and descriptively, and he has always had a sketch book on hand to draw on.

    His HS was a small college prep school, and both his advisor and the college advisor urged him to take a fourth year of math. DS balked. I really thought it over, and decided that any school that didn't admit him because he didn't have 4 years of math would not be the right school for him. I also felt that it was time for DS to own his education, decide what direction he wanted his future to go in, and that it was time for his education to be about what he CAN do and not what he CANNOT do. So no math. He took two art courses, a writing course, a literature course, ethics (fantastic course!!!) and ornithology. And I decided to keep out of it- that meant no tutor, no me checking up on him to see if assignments got done, no reviewing anything, no nothing. I wanted to see if the kid could fly...and he soared! Honors all year with one quarter on high honors, excited about what he was learning and wanting to learn more.

    He was accepted at all 3 colleges he applied to including Champlain.And colleges weigh all kinds of things- one of the schools DS was accepted to made a point to complement the application essay he had written. The schools your son is applying to may be very interested in seeing a sample of film your DS has done.

    FWIW, I had to take statistics in grad school and I thought it was the most dry, boring subject I have ever taken. I just cannot imagine how doing poorly in statistics is going to improve your DS's chances of getting into college as a film major, but I am not a college admission professional.

    Good luck, I know this year can be tense trying to think all this through. But I went on the premise that an education should prepare DS for the life he will be leading, and that life will not be a science or math field.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sorry, I reread your original post and didn't pick up on your comment initially about there not being alot of alternative math classes.

    So, I don't know what to tell you about the stats class - personally I don't think it would hurt him and I still believe he will be required to take some level of math in college, so it should help him stay fresh on math.

    If he opts to stay with his current schedule, I don't think it will hurt his chances to get into a school so much as it might hurt him once he's there! :-)

    Maybe he should take a science course - biology or anything like that available? Again, if he's going the liberal arts route, they will have math and science requirements that he'll have to take in college - not advance chemistry or physics, but I would bet he'll have to take some type of science - biology, earth science, geology, astronomy - something.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I just asked dh who took statistics in college. He said there's no algebra, but multiplying, division, etc. Now things could have changed since then. :)

    Here's a little story that may give you hope. My oldest son was awful in math, but we made him take a math class every year in HS. He made C's in it but still struggled.

    Then out of the blue he decided to major in Engineering. Huh? My dh and I though, "oh no!" lol. See, my dad was an engineer and ds wanted to be one also.

    The first year he went to a local community college to take the basic requirements, and he had to take college algebra.

    During the first few weeks of college, he just couldn't understand the college algebra.

    Then one day (I'll never in my life forget this moment), I was in the living room and he was in the dining room doing his algebra homework. All of a sudden he says, "I get it! Mom, I get it!"

    It clicked right there. Now he's a Civil Engineer and one of the youngest to be in charge over a large area of our state and over other engineers who are much older than him. :)

    My other son took statistics in college, and although he is good at math, (except Calculus) he said it was easy and he just loved the course and got an A in it.

    One more thing, I remember my husband taking the stats class in college, and he had to go to campus and have people take polls and stuff. He also had fun in the class.

    I say he should try it, who knows, he may love it!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thank you for all the helpful and thoughtful advice. I think we will be sure to explain why it would be a good idea to take the math class, but then leave the decision up to him because he is going to have to own this either way. If we push him to take Stats and he hates it, we'll be hearing about it constantly (he is not one to suffer in silence). I have also encouraged him to go to the admissions office at Emerson (where he is this summer) and ask them if they think his Sr. schedule is lacking.

    Here is what has me so frustrated. Last year (Jr.), he took 6 classes, all but one of which was a hard academic class. His hardest classes were math, science, and an Honors language. It was a really tough year for him academically, and his grades showed it. (Side note, he was diagnosed with ADD last spring and after starting meds, his grades all went up, some dramatically, in the final semester.) Anyway, what's bugging me now is thinking that he COULD have NOT taken one of those classes last year. So, say, he could have not taken science, and taken it next year instead, thereby making his courseload Sr. year look more serious (and last year would have been a little easier). I sure wish his advisor had mentioned that when we were choosing classes last year. Argh.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sue he'll get more kudos for taking the tougher course load Jr. year. I really don't think his course load is so very light that it would be a detriment to him. I just think his brain might get a little fuzzy if he doesn't have any math or science for a full year.

    What I would call a light schedule is my neighbor's son. His senior year he took Senior English, History of Film (which was watching old movies and critiquing them!) and Photography. He had all his requirements to graduate done and the state only required he take 4 years of english. He took photography for fun. He got out of school at 10:30 every day! He did not get into the college of his choice's main campus, but went to a satellite campus for a year and then transferred to main campus so in the end it was all good, but still he didn't get his first choice and it might have been for alot of reasons, but his senior schedule didn't help!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    History of Film doesn't have to be a gut class, and I applaud any kid who watches the classics. I don't know why English and arts classes are considered lightweight, and math and science get more respect. Odd.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    First let me say, Oklahoma has good schools. We have some excellent private universities and good state universities.

    As I recall, what the kids needed to get into the colleges were the results of their ACT's and SAT's, not the senior course load.

    It's common for seniors to be finished with most of their tough classes by their senior year and get out early. And don't forget, when they apply to the colleges, the colleges will give them an answer before they get their final semester grade! Your son could make a "D" in the class for the 2nd semester and the schools would have no idea. ;)

    I'd contact the Admissions office at the schools he is applying to and get a definitive answer.

    Isn't it odd that none of the baby books told us we'd be worrying MORE when they become young adults? lol. Boy, I was hit hard with Empty Nest Syndrome. :(

    Oh! Forgot to add, my neice was recently diagnosed with ADHD, she's still in college (24) and she could not for the life of her pass a certain Biology class she was taking. She took the class about three times, and then they found out she had ADHD, got on the right meds, and now she's doing great! Don't lose hope!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    That would make me crazy if my DS was able to be done with his school day at 10:30! At his school, they have to take a minimum of 5 classes even if they have finished their "requirements," and they also have mandatory after-school activities/sports, so he is never home before 4:30 or 5:00! Love it... less time to get in trouble!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I's listen to Runninginplace -- She's in the business, after all.

    And to whoever said a student's senior year grades don't matter? -- I'd say they were very wrong. My son just graduated, and his senior year grades were his best ever. He took APs all through high school, but seemed to be somewhat of a 'late bloomer', moving from B's with a few C's early on to B's with a few A's to straight A's his last semester. His improving track record was specifically mentioned by the two best colleges that accepted him.

    The other posters already said what I would say -- Statistics is not like other math, schools generally *want* more than they *require*, and that your son needs to be the one to make the final choice. And having HIM go to the office at Emmerson and ask is a great idea.

    Best of luck through this nail-biting year! ;-)

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sweeby, if you're referring to my post about senior grades, my point being that at least in my son's case, he had heard that he had been accepted at his college by Dec. of his senior year,(they have a rolling admission process) and they only requested a final graduation transcript. So, they based their decision on his transcript through Jr. year and his senior schedule.

    I can only think of a few rare cases when a kid didn't get into a school and they appealed and submitted senior year grades to be reconsidered. I know they do like to see grades improve from freshman to sophomore to junior year, but how did you son apply to college and show his senior grades? Most deadlines are Dec. or Jan 1st for financial aid packages, so in most cases you wouldn't even have a semester to submit at that point.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sweeby, senior grades DO matter, to the child who is learning and getting better.

    But most colleges send acceptance letters long before the second semester grades come out, so no, grades don't matter after the first semester.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    No one gets ahead in this world by only doing what they "have" to do...
    No one ever got a raise by doing only what they have to do.
    Think...2 people asking for admission to a school...one has done the minimum the other has done more....which one earns the place.
    2 employees, one does what he is asked to do the other completes his work and asks the boss...."anything more I can do"....which one gets the promotion?
    your son needs to go the extra mile....but at this age it should not be your decision....it should be his.
    Linda C

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Just a little update. I emailed one of the college counselors at my son's school with my question about taking math (she was the one who suggested it in the first place) and she was really helpful. She called every school on our list and asked, and basically, half of them said his classes looked good, and half said they would like to see him take math. So, not an easy decision, and I agree that it has to be his decision.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Senior-class grades do matter. Or at least I believed it when I got my college letter after I accepted and read the line that said something like 'changes in your senior year grades could affect your final admission'--not like I needed to be worried, but still!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think it is a sad reflection on our educational system and what we value when liberal arts classes are considered fluff or not of value. The arts and humanities are essential to a balanced education and essential to becoming a well rounded individual. Your son has chosen an artistic and creative path for his future-- clearly he has interest and talent in this direction. Any college or university that frowns on developing that part of his education will not, IMO, value his chosen path or offer him an environment where he will thrive.

    I only have a little experience here-- I took mostly AP classes my SR year. I did drop out of AP english so I could double up on AP science courses. I took calculus II, Biology II, Physics II and I think a World Lit class.. but I was a science major. In college, I placed out of both Math and English courses and dove right into the science. Even my electives had a scientific bent-- kinesiology, physiological psychology (which started out as an elective but became my focus and major). You know what I missed? The Liberal and Arts portion of my liberal arts education. I so regret that I gave up my love of painting and photography and theater. I regret that I didnt better use my time when I was young to pursue my other talents and interests. I regret that I (and my parents and advisors) undervalued that which didn't have an immediate application.

    Your son has a vision--the best advice I have is to encourage his vision and to let him find his muse and inspiration. It is hard enough to be an artist in this often cookie cutter world-- I don't see the advantage of making it harder by stuffing him into a mold that doesn't serve his chosen direction. Art History may be considered a cake course-- but frankly so is statistics. It's one course. I say let him follow his interests.

    (And if you are interested in broadening his mathematic experience in an unusual and artistic way, try to pick up a copy of Fantasia Mathematica. It was out of print but I seem to remember seeing it not so long ago. It is one of those books that will stay with me forever. It brought math and art together in a way that expanded and blew my mind. It was life changing for me. )

    Just my 2 cents. Good luck to you and your son, Sue

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I agree with you Funkyart - my son's school is total college prep. They take 1 art class and 1 phys. ed. class and the rest are straight math, science, history, religion, english and foreign language. They have 1 period a day for electives, but the choices are art, choir, study hall or they can double up on a math or science.

    It's definitely not a school for a creative minded kid. My son who is starting his sophomore year in college is enjoying some of the liberal arts classes he's required to take even though he's a business major. He didn't have that opportunity in HS, so I am glad he will get exposure now in college.

    Unfortunately, to get into a competitive college they weigh the standard math, science, history, english and language classes much more importantly than the liberal arts choices. I don't think it's necessarily right, but most college courses don't match up to high school level courses anyways, so to try and compare kids fairly and equally, there has to be some common ground.

    Fortunately, there are alot of colleges out there that are not as competitive and do favor the liberal arts education, just depends on where you want to go to school.

    Probably should be a new post, but in this economy and in this competitive job market, I would worry about my son being able to go out and get a good paying job with a degree in Humanities, or Philosophy or even History. If you aren't planning on going the Professor route, or law school route, or another graduate type degree, it seems the ability to get a good liberal arts degree and find a company willing to hire you and train you is getting scarcer and scarcer. In my experience, you really need to get a degree in a specific field or with a unique skillset to compete for the limited hiring going on.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Funkyart writes:

    "I think it is a sad reflection on our educational system and what we value when liberal arts classes are considered fluff or not of value. The arts and humanities are essential to a balanced education and essential to becoming a well rounded individual. Your son has chosen an artistic and creative path for his future-- clearly he has interest and talent in this direction. Any college or university that frowns on developing that part of his education will not, IMO, value his chosen path or offer him an environment where he will thrive. "

    But, generally in the US educational system one's *university* education is the venue in which an individual chooses what direction of study s/he wants to take, be it science, liberal arts, business, pre-professional etc. At the college level students concentrate on a particular major, focusing on one in which they have (hopefully) interest and academic ability.

    High school curricula by definition aren't intended to concentrate on any particular area; coursework is intended to adequately prepare all those who plan to go to college in a well rounded fashion. Therefore I wouldn't say liberal arts is denigrated in HS. I would say a good college preparatory program in HS includes required coursework in all the topics that make a well rounded scholar. Students who wish to excel and/or be recognized by competitive universities choose to take far more than the required academics.

    Then too, universities also expect some breadth of study. Even the most focused academic majors, like engineering, require some liberal arts credits. There may not be many but they are a requirement. And conversely liberal arts students have to take some math/science.

    As for the particular situation being discussed here, from the OP this is what the student in question wants to take senior year:

    "Apparently his courseload looks too "light" because he is taking 2 English classes, 1 History, Video Production II (he wants to go to film school so this is essential), and Art History (didn't get his first choice here, which was Photography)."

    There is not a single math or science course selected! Frankly for this student it seems that the quantitative side of his education is being sorely neglected, at least in his plan for the year :).

    So in this particular case a university will not be dismissing the fact that this student chose to take a heavier load of liberal arts coursework. But any competitive university will definitely take notice of the fact he avoided all math/science in his last academic year. And in most cases, for a student who didn't do well beforehand in them (as was also discussed) to be ignoring those subjects in the last year is not going to be a great package to send off to college admission committees.

    Ann

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I certainly don't want to start an argument, but I am curious about this statement: "...for a student who didn't do well beforehand in them (as was also discussed) to be ignoring those subjects in the last year is not going to be a great package to send off to college admission committees." I totally understand why it would seem valuable for my DS to take the math class in terms of having a "well rounded" courseload. However, how is it particularly valuable for him to take a math class because he didn't do well in math beforehand? Not to be pessimistic, but I'm sure he will continue to get C's in this math class, so it's not as if he will redeem himself in the world of math by taking this class. In fact, I think it will be more difficult for him than ever, because this year, in addition to regular coursework, he has the college applications and essays (LOTS of essays!), as well as two major senior projects -- a presentation near the beginning of the year, and a major research paper near the end of the year. And knowing my son, math will be his last priority. So I'm not entirely clear on how these poor math grades are going to somehow impress the admissions folks?

    BTW, he is probably going to take the class. DH had dinner with him last night (he works near the summer program where DS is) and they talked about it. Without any pressure from us, he said he will probably take the class. Fortunately, he likes the teacher (which isn't supposed to matter, I guess, but it does for him) and as he said "At least it's not Algebra..."

    Thanks everyone, for an educational (no pun intended) discussion!

    Funkyart, thanks for your words of wisdom. I am ordering that book for my son -- I found it at Amazon!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sueb - For what it's worth, I'd have your son write his college essays NOW -- before school starts, and before he has the "too busy" excuse. I believe The Common Application is already available, so the essay questions should be there.

    I know in my son's case, starting EARLY and having time for many "rest and revision cycles" made a huge difference int he quality and depth of his essay, and that essay must have really helped...

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sweeby, actually, he has started the essays already, and our goal is to have them completed before school starts.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Wow, that is motivation! It's hard to get a teenager to write an essay in early August. My son's brain is still on summer break!!

    Fortunately for him, the first assignments in his Senior English class is to write several essays that he can use for his college application. I love this approach as it forces him to write the darn things timely, and his teacher reviews them and gives him a chance to do some reworking if necessary. My son is the opposite of yours, he's not the greatest writer, but does better in math and science (well, maybe not Chemistry!).

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Caroleoh, part of the reason he has already started is because he had to write an essay for English class in the spring of Jr. year... he is not all that motivated! The other reason he has continued writing essays is because his parents leaned on him very heavily earlier this summer. He is away until Aug. 15, then on vacation, but he doesn't start school until Sept. 11 (groan) so he still has plenty of time to do more writing before school begins (oh, and read a book from the Summer Reading list and write a paper on that...).