Preparing for College

Will B's in Very Advanced Classes Hurt Ivy Admission Odds?

Question: My son skipped a grade and has been taking rigorous courses in his high school since 9th grade. He was the only student in his entire class who took AP Calculus in 9th grade, AP Physics in 10th grade and college math in 11th grade, etc. However, he did not always reach satisfactory grades for these courses (he got some Bs instead of all As). Will this affect his chances to get into Ivies and other top-selective schools?

I read your query to my own son who is a 9th grader taking Honors Geometry ... a class that is typically considered advanced for high school freshmen, although nowhere close to what your son was doing at that age. His immediate response was an emphatic, "Calm down!!!" And, indeed, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Your son clearly has significant talent in math and science. His willingness to challenge himself will come across loud and clear on his college applications and should be impressive to admission officials, including at the Ivies and other "elite" institutions.

But, like my son, I worry that you are sending the wrong message if you are calling a "B" in a very advanced class an unsatisfactory grade. My advice would be to stop worrying about the B's. Instead, try to counsel and support your son as he takes his talents to the next level. Don’t making him fearful of disappointing you if his grades aren’t perfect. Given his considerable gifts, colleges will be interested to see what he continues to do with them and will not be splitting hairs between A's and B's in greatly accelerated courses.

(posted 2/1/2012)