Preparing for College

Seeing Double? Explaining Duplicate Calc Grades on Transcript

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)