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!

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