Will Lack of Calculus Hurt College Admission Chances?

Question: Greetings, Dean! I'm an 11th grader who may have made some grave scheduling errors. Long story short, I was on my school's accelerated math track (Algebra II/Trig in 10th grade, etc) but took a computer science class that counted for math credit instead of a core math class in 11th grade. Now, however, I'm discovering that most of the schools I'm looking at (mainly LACs like Wesleyan, if it matters) strongly recommend students have calculus on their applications. Even though I haven't taken pre-Calc, would it make sense to study over the summer and take AP Calc in 12th grade? For a probable English/History major, can calculus make or break an application?

For starters, your scheduling snafu isn't “grave." Save that designation for the day that you sign up for Woodshop I and land in a classroom with 37 freshman boys using power tools. 😉

Similarly, skipping out on calculus won't “make or break an application." That's a bit extreme as well. But, on the other hand, you're correct when you note that successful candidates at Wesleyan and at other “elite" liberal arts colleges and universities have commonly taken math through calculus. While you won't automatically put yourself on the cement deck of the applicant pool without it, you will, in fact, be at a small disadvantage, even if your intended major is in the humanities.

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