Help with college choice info, please

Maybe this belongs in GQ. If so, that’s fine with me. Anyway, my daughter is a junior in high school. She has a killer schedule this year, and among other things she has Physics. Now, she’s a smart kid, but science is neither her long suit, nor her favorite subject. She’s already had Honors Biology and Chemistry, and she would like to put off Physics until next year, when she won’t be taking quite such a heavy class load.

I think postponing it would give her a better chance to do well in all her classes, rather than have to fight so hard to keep up this year. Her counselor, on the other hand, is telling her that there are colleges that will turn her down if she doesn’t have four years of science. I can’t help but think that this is a very small number of schools, but maybe I’m wrong. It’s been a while since I had to deal with this.

It seems to me that a higher GPA would be better than the extra science class, since she doesn’t plan to major in anything science related, but as I said, I’m not always up to date on such things.

So, I’m asking those of you with some experience or expertise in the area to give me some idea about this.

Her guidance counselor is IMHO full of crap (although generally I hesitate to paint with such a dirty palette).

Apart from anything else, the only way I can imagine she’d have four years of science would be to take an AP class her senior year; however, if she does, whoever looks at her transcript is going to ignore the honors class that she already took in that subject, unless “why I did really badly in AP Physics” is her application essay title, or some such.

If she must have that extra scientific oomph, let her sit this year out and then take an AP physics class- otherwise plain Hon. Bio, Chem., and Physics will do fine.

The counselor may be suggesting that she take a non-pure science class- geology or some such- to make four years, but (again IMHO) colleges are not going to look at her science classes very closely as long as she meets the minimum requirements for graduation (3 pure sciences or 3 years of integrated sciences in every school I’ve heard of) given that she isn’t going to major in a related field (yet… by the time she’s a college junior she’ll probably have been through 3-odd majors :wink: )

You might have her ask the counselor exactly which schools he/she thinks will reject her for only three years of science, and check with them. (Yes, they’ll tell you)

And, of course, it matters what your daughter wants in a college!

hmmm - my daughter is a senior this year. She’s had Bio, Chem, and Physics, and she’s not taking any science this year. In our county, they’re required to have three science credits for graduation. I checked the website of her college of choice, and they don’t require more than that.

Sounds like the counselor may have an agenda, or she’s woefully misinformed. We’ve been dealing with a counselor who has no idea how Dual Enrollment works - we had to talk with an assistant principal to get it straightened out.

My advice - if you don’t get the answer you want, ask someone else, preferably higher up the line.

If she’s not planning to be a science major, I don’t think it’s necessary. Most high schools require only three years of science, as do most colleges. To be a chemistry, I didn’t need any more.

That said, guidance counselors don’t know everything. Mine told me that there was no point in taking chemistry I and II because then I would have only three different types of science (Chemsitry I and II, Biology and Physics). In his opinion, I should have taken “Change Over Time,” whatever that was, as a senior.

My response? “I’m going to major in chemistry!”

The major problem I see with putting off Physics to her senior year (assuming for the moment it is a year long class) is that she will not want to be cranking right down to the wire.

When college acceptances come in, Senioritis does set it… its hard to see the point of working really hard between April and June of your Senior year. Of course, colleges can and do rescind acceptances based on your final semester grades. So I wouldn’t leave any “dreaded, difficult” class off to the Senior year.

The Junior year is generally hell. But if you do it right, you’ll be able to enjoy a (comparitively) breezy Senior year.

I also think it’s odd to say that a kid is not good in “science.” Physics and Biology are quite different topics, and a lot depends on the teacher. I wasn’t good in math – at all – yet AP Calculus was the first math class I comprehended and even enjoyed. Maybe Physics will be an excellent experience.

JMHO, I am not a guidance counsellor, but I did go to one of the toughest public high schools in the US.

What does the kid want to do? I saw go with whatever she thinks is best.

FWIW, I only had two years of science and three years of math, which was perfectly fine by the University of California system, at least at that time. Heck, in my high school there were only three non-remidial science courses offered.

College Admissions Counselor Checking In…

Many schools ‘recommend’ four years of science, but do not require it. The best course of action for your daughter, at this point, would be to contemplate a couple basic questions:

  1. Is there a major she is definitely/possibly interested in?
  2. Does she have a group of schools on her radar already, or is she still wide open to the thousands of schools out there?

If she wants to major in math, finance or another numbers heavy field, getting in physics as well as many other math classes as possible now is a smart move. English, theatre, management, communications? She can probably get by just fine w/o physics until next year.

Four years of science would be nice, but three years of honors or AP bio/chem/physics would look very impressive for any but the most competitive schools.

My counselor was a jerk too. They’d say crap like that, but I knew better. I had an older sister in college. You should use high school to prepare you for college. If she is not going to major in math or physics, I’d say skip the physics. Take something more enjoyable like astronomy or geology (as dutchboy208 mentioned). I took chem, bio, and ap physics in hs. But I was going into a science major. Unfortunately, I never needed a physics class. To fullfil my requirements I took chemistry, astronomy, electrical engineering, and geology. Or better yet let her take a class where she can explore her interests. The number one hardest thing is finding a field/subject you like, and it’s a lot cheaper to try new things in high school.

Wow, have things changed this much in five years? I took three years of science (took Psychology my junior year) and got into five top tier colleges.

I think your daughter should do what she feels right for her, and what’s challenging, but comfortable. If she’s not going to major in science, it doesn’t matter.

That counselor is misinformed.

Unless she’s looking into MIT or CalTech (I’m assuming she’s not, given your comments about science), three years is just fine.

I checked at UC-Berkeley (one of the top public universities in the country), Williams, (one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country) and Brown (An Ivy). All of them said three years of lab science were recommended or required. None of them insisted on four years of science.

If you daughter does take it, and struggles, I think it would be valid to talk about that in her application. I used to work in Admissions, and it would impress me to hear a student say “I took extra science and stuck with it, even though it put my high GPA at risk, because I wanted the best possible preparation for college.”

Thanks, everybody. Daughter plans (at this point, and for the past several years) to major in History. Her areas of interest lean more toward language, history, that type of thing. Her schedule this year includes Spanish IV, College Algebra/Trig, Psychology, American Studies (AP level,which covers her Am. History requirement, and is a two hour course, including English), and History and Thought of Western Man (a two year course, including history and English, honors level, tough, lots of reading). As I type this, she’s working on her summer homework for Amer. Studies. She’ll get a gym waiver, either because she’s taking an academic class (Physics is in the slot now) or because she has a varsity sport. Actually, she will have three varsity sports this year. By the time she finished her sophomore year, she was exhausted. I don’t want to make that worse.

At this point she has a GPA of 4.46 and is 4th in her class. I think she has enough going for her.