2 years ago
Admissions Advice

mentally exhausted and so worried

ive always been the type of person to worry over the small things. i dont think rationally, and in moments of stress, i panic. while i pride myself on my position in my school's jazz band (im the only clarinet player) and my excellent abilities in grammar, rhetoric, english literature, creative writing, and composition-- ive never been good at math. my sat scores (ranging from 1180-1200) and grade point average are reflective of this, and im worried about how having c's in mathematics courses will look on my college applications. i feel no matter how hard i try, ill always be a below average math student. what can i do to stop worrying and assure myself im going to be okay?

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3 answers

Accepted Answer
2 years ago[edited]

Hi @mia.solii,

Here's a big hug to you. First of all getting into a good college is NOT a race. You are doing this for yourself, not your parents, not your friends, not your peers, or anyone else. So you need to first accept that your desire to attend college is a gift to yourself

It's like buying a car. Do you need a car? Nope. But having a car makes adulting much easier if you are adulting. It allows you to get to work and back or have more opportunities to apply for jobs within driving distance. It gives you some independence and ability to move in bigger social circles, professional circles. You can drive across town to eat if you want, and if you want to drive to beach or desert or mountains for no reason, you can do it. But it comes at a cost. Therefore, it does make sense to pick a practical, reliable and economical car that fits your goals and lifestyle. None of us need a Lamborghini or Rolls Royce. Most of use would be quite happy with a Honda Civic.

So when you think of college, don't put so much pressure on yourself and how colleges will view your math grades. You are not the first high school student struggling with math and not the last. Unless you are applying to a STEM major, or wanting to trade on Wall Street, you probably are not going to use much math in your future anyway.

That being said, having good math grades and SAT/ACT math scores can give you some more options with what kinds of colleges you can apply to and get into. So it's like having good credit. If you have a good credit score, you can more easily rent an apartment or buy a car or get car insurance because you have taken the time to manage your finances better than the next person.

My suggestion to you is not to discount your ability to understand math and do well at it. I did struggle with both Algebra 2 and Pre-Calc. Other than those 2 classes, I had a perfect 4.0 GPA. So instead of caving in and stopping my math journey I decided to do something about it. And this was over 2 years ago. I learned that I could take an online math class with no risk and if I did well, I would gain 3 big things. 1.) Proof that I wasn't terrible at math. 2.) Evidence that I have mastered difficult course rigor and 3. ) Getting legitimate college credit that is transferable to virtually any college. The program was a pilot program called Outlier.org. It's an online program which partners with various Ivy and Elite instructors and is managed operationally by UPittsburgh. I took College Calculus and it was taught be 3 different instructors all who had a different approach to teaching it. One used a tablet computer, one used paper and pen, and one used a black board. Since it was self-paced. I could watch the lesson 3 times if I wanted to or pause whenever I needed a break. I found that I can't concentrate and absorb complex math in realtime in the classroom and take notes at the same time. I need to see if visually and follow the logic, and only when I understand each step can I apply and retain it. That's how my brain works. So I covered an entire year's worth of Calculus in 7 weeks and got a 95 or a solid A in the class. This was one of the best things I ever did for myself since I proved that I'm not math incompetent. I truly believe that anyone can learn Calculus if they have the right teachers. Fast forward 2 years, now outlier offers not only Calc but Pre-Calc and College Algebra. It's only $400 for 3 college credits which is like 10 times less than other online college programs. And if you don't pass, you get your money back.

If you are so inclined to take a risk on yourself this summer, I would recommend that you prop up your math course rigor by taking one of these classes. It will certainly help your transcript and give you some more confidence to study on your SAT math section a bit more. Maybe you can get a 1300-1400 SAT score with the right mind set. And if it doesn't work out, you get your money back. At least you will have tried which is more important than settling.

Putting yourself outside of your comfort zone is something we have to get used to. I truly feel that being honest, vulnerable and taking risks is an important part of maturing as a human being. If I had convinced myself I'm no good at math, perhaps I would not have applied to Ivy colleges and wouldn't have been admitted to Columbia. But I wasn't ready to settle.

I hope this note finds you well and wish you luck in your college admissions journey.

Good luck.

2 years ago

Sometimes it helps me when I listen to music with headphones on and turn the volume up to calm down or stop worrying because with the volume so loud it's hard to focus on anything else and it's sort of like a little mental break to get your mood up. Also, college isn't the deciding factor in your life; it would help you to get into a prestigious college but it doesn't make or break your future. It's just a starting point. I heard this quote from a friend, "A big slope beats any y-value," and it's true that colleges don't just look at grades, so don't feel too pressurized.

A big problem with anxiety is overthinking, but you could try to stop planning and worrying about the future and focus more on little goals (B+ in the next math test) and focus on how to accomplish those goals (study 1 hour before/make a little practice test).

2 years ago[edited]

Hi @mia.soliii! As another student with anxiety, I understand how you are feeling. Your sat scores are actually above average and colleges look at more than just grades. Above all, just remember that your grades and test scores don't define you in the end. Academics are not everything in life. Pursue and focus on your strengths in band, English, and any other areas. Still try your best in school, but remember that your best isn't going to look like the best that others put in, and that's okay! I hope this helps and I hope everything turns out okay! :)

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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