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How do I make up for withdrawing from a college class?



I am a junior (high school class of 2022) at a public early college high school in Michigan (different than dual enrollment-- for example, we have grades 9-13 instead of 9-12) where all students take college classes and high school classes at the same time (some earn a 2 year degree before their high school degree). Unfortunately, I had to withdraw from a college class (Calculus II) to protect my GPA (The instructor's teaching style was not best for me, even after 20+ hours of studying and tutoring a week). It shows up as a W on my college transcript. My plan is to remedy this by taking the AP BC Calculus exam (There's no room in my schedule to retake Calculus II) and explaining what happened to colleges in the additional information section of the common app. What is the best way for me to explain this (I want to apply to competitive/highly selective schools)? Should I just try to retake the class with a different professor? Are there better ways to remedy this issue? Are the Barron's AP prep book and free AP Calculus videos/practice problems by the College Board enough to study with?

P.S. I plan on applying to be a Human Biology major on the premed track

Thank you so much in advance!


1 answer

answered on

My primary recommendation in this situation is to try to retake the class next year. You will almost certainly need to take Calculus II in order to apply to medical school, but you won't need much (if anything) beyond this level, so if your scheduling issue is that you were hoping to take a higher level math course senior year, this shouldn't be a central issue. If retaking Calc II is truly impossible (and even if you do end up taking the class in the future), you will want to explain the withdrawal in the additional information section of your application when the time comes. This explanation should focus not on struggling with the course but rather with your decision to take your education in a different direction at this moment in time. You'll want to emphasize what you did instead of taking the class; that is, stress what you used that time for instead.

This brings me to my last point, which is that self-studying and doing well on the AP exam is not a true remedy for withdrawing from the class; you should demonstrate that you are using the time you gained productively elsewhere. Did this switch give you the opportunity to explore a passion in another field? Are you using this newfound time to serve the community, pursue research, or advance your engagement with other issues/activities/achievements? In short, make sure you're focusing on what withdrawing has empowered you to do rather than dwelling on your lack of connection with the professor or material.

With regard to your last question about how to self-study for the AP exam, I recommend assessing yourself early and often to make sure whatever instructional method you're using works for you. In this endeavor, you'll need to be open to changing course if it turns out that your current approach isn't helping you meet your goals.

Best of luck!

Thank you so much for your help! I withdrew from the course last school year. I used the time to dedicate energy to the other two college classes I was taking and to reconsider what I wanted to study. Could I saw that I switched from future math major to bio or that I spent more time on hobbies like painting to manage stress (this was a difficult time for me because I am used to doing well in classes after putting my all into them.)
I'm glad to hear that you took time to focus on your wellbeing! I would be sure to emphasize what kinds of exploration and engagement you advanced during this time that led you to change your major -- did you do an independent project or research? Did you use the time to commit to a bio class that changed your perspective? You're going to want to dig into how you spent your time and (while there are a lot of intangibles in life and in college admissions) the tangible products that came of it.
Honestly, I was already interested in bio (specifically how humans and living organisms function) I applied medicine related summer programs to learn more about health innovations and health disparities in the United States. I learned that I should take classes I need to achieve my goals, not just ones that seem impressive to other people (I was going to take calculus III and linear algebra to look ready for college apps, but I know understand that Calc I&II stats will help me the most as premed
Does focusing more on my school’s HOSA competition (competing internationally for the first time) look good? Or practicing art technique to better my online art shop? I really appreciate your responses!!! This situation makes me nervous for applying to college.