College Options with C's in Math?

Question: I just finished my junior year in high school, and unfortunately received a C in my Advanced Algebra II class this semester, and I was wondering how this would affect my chances in the college admission process? I got a B in the same class first semester, and had A's in all of my other classes both semesters (2 AP, 1 Advanced, Choir, Spanish 4).

I have only one other C my high school career, which was second semester of my sophomore year in Advanced Geometry. I have no desire to major in math. My grades have been consistent A's and B's all throughout my high school career, bringing my GPA to a 4.147 in all. I will graduate Magna Cum Laude.

I've also had a myriad of leadership positions both in and outside of school and have had lead roles in major productions. I will attend an intensive musical theater program this summer. I serve on my city's youth council and am creating a school and community arts advocacy project.

I should also add that my mom's recent breast cancer diagnosis has been very stressful and has affected my academic performance.

With all of this in mind, what are my chances of college admission into a private, 4-year university? Thank you!

You will be a strong candidate at the vast majority of colleges and universities in the US. It's only a tiny, hyper-picky roster of schools (those with admission rates in the teens or even single digits) that may not roll out the welcome mat—places where many of your “competitor candidates" will be submitting straight-A transcripts with a head-spinning collection of AP classes. You should certainly apply to any “dream" college you're considering, but do make sure to create a balanced list that includes “Realistic" and “Safe" schools along with a “Reach" or two.

Note, however, that if you decide to apply for a theater or musical theater BFA program, then the evaluation process can be very different, and acceptances will be extremely hard to predict because these programs are not only highly selective but also auditions can play a starring role.

But if you're not aiming for audition-based BFA majors, then you should have many enviable choices In order to hone in on these options, I urge you to invest in a “Stats Evaluation" from College Karma.

SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: College Karma is a business I co-founded with my College Confidential colleague Dave Berry. The Stats Eval–-along with other College Karma counseling services-–used to be provided by College Confidential until 2008. This is actually the second time this month that I've recommended a Stats Eval in an “Ask the Dean" column, but I swear that I the aim of this column is NOT to promote my personal business! However, because you have an excellent record with just a couple minor blemishes, the Eval could be especially helpful as you try to determine which colleges are within—or out of—your grasp.

You can read about the Stats Eval near the top of the page here:

It costs $150, and I assure you that you will get a lot of bang for your buck. After you complete and submit the Stats Evaluation form, you will receive an assessment of your admission chances at all the colleges you listed on the form along with suggestions of ways to improve those chances, where possible. The Eval report also provides the names of other colleges that should meet your profile and preferences. If, however, you are seriously considering a BFA program, the Eval will not be as effective because of the importance of your audition, as noted above.

Let me know if you have any questions about the Eval. And, meanwhile, good luck to you as you continue through the admissions maze and best wishes to your mom for a full and speedy recovery.