a year ago
Admissions Advice

What effect will getting a B in AP Calculus and an A- in college level macroeconomics have on my admissions?

I am a junior in high school looking to apply to business schools for a career in product development/design/management. Based in California, I hope to apply to UChicago and UPenn with this in mind, and am looking at Stanford, too. This year, I am taking AP Calculus and have taken a community college macroeconomics course. I received an A- in the macroeconomics course and am worried I will receive a B in AP Calculus AB in the second semester (I will also be taking AP Calculus BC next term). What effect might these grades have on my admissions chances, being that I am hoping to apply to competitive business schools that expect preparation in calculus and look at business and math-related classes? For reference, I have strong extracurriculars, currently have an unweighted 4.0 GPA and weighted 4.8 GPA, will have taken about 10 AP classes total, and attend a medium-ranked public high school. I do not want this to come across as a direct "chance-me" question but would like to know your take on how admissions officers might view these grades and some possible suggestions for what I can do.

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Accepted Answer
a year ago

The short answer is no.

The long answer is no as well and I'll explain my reasoning.

1.) Top Business Schools would rather have students that take the most challenging courses available with a couple of Bs on their transcript versus those with all As who just do the bare minimum or coast by. By taking AP Calc AB/BC you are showing these schools that you are not afraid of Calculus and challenging yourself. Also by taking a dual enrollment in Macro-Econ you are ahead of the game because 9 out 10 Business school admits have not taken a college-level Econ course prior to matriculation. This shows the course rigor so good for you. Maybe you can take a college Stats Class or something similar over the summer. That would look good.

2.) Unless you are going to be a Financial Engineer/Quant, you will never use Calculus in business school. Maybe a little if you are a Stats major and need to do some complicated Econometric modeling using Monte Carlo Simulation or something similar. But If you are focused on Prod.Design/Mgmt./Dev. then you already are too geeked out for peers already. One exception is if you take an elective in Options and Futures pricing Models in the Finance Department, then it helps if you understand all the DY/DX derivatives equations.

3.) I would use the rest of my junior and senior year to get the following things under my belt:

a.) Get active on Linkedin and network with some Product people and see if you can get an internship over the summer. Ideally, you want to get in at Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, etc. but any quality internship shows drive and determination.

b.) Get super proficient in presentation software like making cool powerpoints with dynamic real-time data driving it because Prod. people have to communicate their ideas.

c.) Learn how to use all the latest Financial software like the Bloomberg and Reuters terminals. You can see if you can get access to those platforms at a local college or university in your city that has a good business school. If you can get certified on Bloomberg, that just looks good on your resume because it means you know how to get and retrieve and synthesize market data to make decisions.

d.) Join a blog or blogs like Poets and Quants and find out what other business students are doing in their 1st and 2nd year so you can get ahead of the game. Anything you can do to show you know your stuff will help you get into a top business school.

e.) Bring to market some kind of idea you have to show why you think you can be a good product person. It doesn't have to be a game-changer Shark Tank idea, just something doable that allows you to show your talents and skills. Raw talent is better than no talent in my book.

The bottom line is that if you have depth and breadth in your resume and transcript and application, a couple Bs isn't going to change anyone's opinion to deny admission. If you can figure out how to overcome these deficits with say, getting 5s on the AP exams or 750+ scores on the SAT 2s then any doubt will magically disappear.

Good luck with your HS progress.


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