Saturday, July 16, 2011

the grades game

Last weekend we attended a gathering at a friend's house here in town.   Although the family has two boys the same age, the parents are a bit older than my husband and me.   I find this often with other parents with teenagers.  I had my first child at age 25 but it seems most women in my town held off until 35 or 40 to start having kids.  Realize that this puts 10-15 years of an age gap between myself and the moms of other teens.  I don't really care but I think it is one of the reasons I don't hang out with many mothers in town.  There is a big difference between 41 and 56.

When it was time to eat I ended up sitting at the patio table with the "girls".  All of the women were in the upper 50's and all had children who recently graduated from the local high school and were on their way to college.  Naturally the conversation surrounded the kids.  We talked about the differences between boys and girls, the colleges their kids were going to and the "grades game".

In talking about the high school, I mentioned that my son received a D in his AP European History class but passed the AP exam.  I was questioning if the teacher might have been a little harsh on the grading.  All four women, almost in unison, said to me "he has to get that D off his transcript".  Failure to do so would result in him not being able to get into a 4-year college.

The conversation continued on with further detail about the grades game.  Apparently to get into college the number one factor is GPA, with SAT scores taking second.  Further, and this is what is most disturbing to me, these women - these experienced having just been there, done that - all agreed that my son should drop his honors classes and take the simplest classes possible just to get the higher GPA.  That unless he can guarantee he is going to get an A in an honors class, he'd be better served taking some bullshit class like Foods.  My son liked chemistry this year and has signed up for AP Chemistry.  Now I think he should drop it.  That is sad and it disgusts me.

These women all agreed that colleges don't look at the classes the kids took - they only look at the GPA.  The fact that my son passed his AP exam is irrelevant - that D is all that matters.  These women must have said to me twenty times that we have to do something to get that D off his transcript, even if it means taking a follow up class at some private academy to the tune of $3,000!

How can this be?  How can course content not matter?  I sit here and I am still slightly skeptical although I think I would be a fool to dismiss advice from four women who all said the same exact thing.  Women who have just lived through this experience.  I am so disappointed if this is true, but can I risk it? 
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