My Bright 11th-Grader Got a D in Calculus
By Eva Ostrum, Consulting Educator
My son is a junior in high school and he has always wanted to be a mechanical engineer. He designed and built a guitar and is restoring an old 70s Nova. He has been in gifted programs, honors and now AP classes since fourth grade and has done well up to now. He had no more math to take as a junior but AP calculus. He is now barely holding on to a D. This is the wrong time to get such a low grade and I'm trying to figure out if it will kill his chances for admission to the colleges he applies for. What does he do now? His GPA was 3.5 before calculus.
Your son's hobbies and interests suggest that he does well in math and enjoys mathematical and mechanical challenges. I understand your concern about his grades during his junior year, but I suggest focusing on the real issue here: Why is your son suddenly floundering in the very area that he has always loved? I would like to know your son's perspective on his math grade. How does he describe what is going on here? What he has to say matters, as only he can clear up this mystery.
Talk to him, not about the grades, but about what is happening in his head and in his heart. Is he happy? Does he still enjoy school the way he used to? Is he having a problem with his teacher? Have his interests changed? Put the grades aside until you genuinely understand the root causes. Having figured those out, you will find yourself much better able to address the situation.
As for his GPA, if he cannot bring it up during the academic year, consider having him take a similar course during the summer to demonstrate that he can handle the material but that other things got in the way during the school year (which is what I suspect is happening).
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.