April 17, 2012 7:31 PM   Subscribe

I'm seriously fucking up my senior year of High school. Senioritis is just the worst. Is [my university] going to drop my scholarships or acceptance? I need to know if I have to take drastic measures now to prevent screwing up my whole life.

So a little background info, I'm going to [my university] for Engineering. I got a $6500 a year scholarship, for academics, which I though was nothing impressive, A's and B's though high school. Lots of honors classes, 27 ACT (29 math 26 reading 27 reading 28 science if I remember correctly) I think its because they are in the process of expanding their engineering program to compete with some higher tier schools. I also got a FIRST scholarship for $5000 a year for my intense involvement in the program. I also got a $3000 a year grant from FASFA and a $7000 no interest loan a year as well. I might be a little off on the FASFA stuff, but basically, the cost a year for me is like $23,000 or so. Losing a scholarship would be the worst burden I could put on my parents, since their paying for my college tuition.

There are two classes right now that I'm taking that I'm barely passing. Calc II and Spanish III. I'm getting a 60.4% and a 62% respectively.

My defense for sucking so hard in Calc II is I barely got through Calc I last year, I was getting around 60% but managed to scratch a 70% at the end by getting an 80% on the final. Then comes summer break, and a whole semester of school, then Calc II. And I'm thrown into a class of people that are mostly all fresh out of Calc I from the first semester. My school decided to combine the AP Calc II with the regular Calc II. We get different tests, but the homework is mostly the same and I'm lost trying to figure out what kind of problems I should be studying up on, and what problems I would only see if I was taking AP.

As for Spanish, I made a huge mistake. I originally had this BRILLIANT idea of trying to decide what college I wanted to go to as soon as possible. I was originally settled on [different university]. I qualified for a $21,000 over 4 years academic scholarship except for one thing, I needed one more year of a language class. So I had to take Spanish. The last time I took Spanish was my freshmen year of high school, and I barely got by getting B's in both classes. But I needed this one class, so I went to my councilor, and wanted to switch into Spanish, ignoring her pleas to take it over the summer because it might be an easier class at a community college. But filling my summer with school didn't go over well with me, so I enrolled, dropping two super easy electives. My mom who is usually on my back about my grades (I thank her for it now) was really chill about it, she said she knew it would be difficult, but I should just shoot for a C. So I went into this class thinking it would be easy to get a C. After bombing the midterm, I'm down to a low D. I made the switch to [my university] when I realized the music scene is really bare up in [other university], and realized that [my university] would be better for me, especially after the cost came down to what [other university] would be. Don't need this class at all any more, and I missed my chance to switch out of it when the new term rolled around. Idiot mistakes.

I'm asking this question now because I've really hit rock bottom. In Spanish III today, I got called out for using a translator and lifting some sentences off of Spanish Wikipedia. Really stupid thing. Teacher phoned home, she didn't take it to administration thank god, but now I have to rewrite the whole thing after school using nothing but a dictionary and book sources. I stare at my Calc homework and its all hieroglyphs to me, nothing makes sense. I'm sitting here now listening to my mom bitch to my dad downstairs about my grades, like shes done for the last month. Sister ran away to college with my freshly bought Ipad because its a "distraction", and my mom has hidden half my toys like any good parent would. I'm seriously depressed and unmotivated to do anything about the situation right now.

This is why I come here, do I need a complete 180 right now to prevent fucking up my whole life? I talked to two different people about scholarships and [my university]. Both of them had a sister/cousin that fucked up their senior years but still kept their hefty scholarships and admission to [my university]. But I've read plenty of stories of just the opposite to other schools. Both classes at my school are not requirements, and I have enough credits to graduate even if I failed both. Right now, my goal is just to simply prevent myself from seeing an F on my transcript.

Should I talk to my councilor? What could she do for me? My spanish teacher knows its been forever since my last spanish class, but isn't the kind thats going to let me cut corners.

Just, tell me like it is...

Thank you. Mefi <3
posted by NotSoSiniSter to Education (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I talked to two different people about scholarships and [my university]. Both of them had a sister/cousin that fucked up their senior years but still kept their hefty scholarships and admission to [my university].

That's just anecdotal data. You need factual information. Your scholarships likely came with a bunch of conditions, including a minimal GPA for senior year. Can you find your paperwork? Does your school have a college councilor? He or she would be able to answer or find the answer to this question for you.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:35 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


yes do talk to your counsellor. Tell her exactly what you stated here, you feel in trouble and need guidance.

>I stare at my Calc homework and its all hieroglyphs to me, nothing makes sense.
>I'm seriously depressed and unmotivated to do anything about the situation right now.

Are you depressed? bring this up to your counsellor. It could be the stress is wearing you down.

Not to minimize your issues but honestly you will face far bigger problems in your life ahead...
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 7:37 PM on April 17, 2012

Response by poster: I really should look that up and make sure there aren't any requirements. That would be motivation right there. :)
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 7:37 PM on April 17, 2012

An acquaintance did extremely poorly in the last semester of his senior year (I'm not sure how poor is "extremely poorly"--may have been a class failure or two) and had his admission to University of Michigan completely rescinded. I would find all the paperwork you can on contingencies for your admittance and scholarships.
posted by schroedinger at 7:49 PM on April 17, 2012

I'm in a very similar situation. I'm transferring colleges, but I'm in a pretty hard French class that I don't want or need to be in and it's ruining my grade a bit. I feel like your counselor won't help very much, but I agree that you ought to find out what the min. or mean GPA is for the freshman admission class. If you calculate your cumulative GPA with Calc and Spanish, see if you'd still fit into the mean. Then what I would do is calculate your GPA with two F's, two D's, a D and an F, and so on, so you'll know exactly what you'll have to make in each class to be able to just get by.

Then, figure out what counts the most in these classes. I don't know much about Calc, but I did take a Symbolic Logic class, which is like math, and if you can go back the the very beginning of where you started to get lost and re-read, it should help at least a little. In the meantime, if homework is only 10% of your grade, don't worry about your current homework so much as getting caught up in order to be ready for tests, which will likely be something like maybe 20% of your grade.

I'd also talk to your teachers before you talk to your counselor. Maybe they can tell you what sort of problems will be on the test. In the meantime, did you forfeit your application to Iowa State? Do you have a plan B? (You can always transfer to [my university], you know. It's never the end when it comes to school. I'm about to make my third transfer. Don't worry too much!)
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 7:51 PM on April 17, 2012

Oh and PS - personally apologize to the Spanish teacher, for using Wikipedia and other poor sources. Stay on her good side, that will help getting a good grade. And do a good job on the assignment.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 7:55 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you should hire a tutor stat to catch you up on what you don't understand. If you don't understand the first 4 months of your calculus and Spanish classes, there's no way you'll be able to coast through the last month.

After that, you can start asking teachers what kind of extra work you can do.

I really should look that up and make sure there aren't any requirements. That would be motivation right there. :)
You should do that immediately. I suspect that you haven't done this yet because you're scared of what you'll learn, which is a foolish way to go through school and life.
posted by acidic at 8:00 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

Contact the mods immediately and get the name of the uni and all other identifiers scrubbed from this question. The amount of detail you included is, I think, unwise. Privacy and all that, since you are discussing scholarships, etc.
posted by jbenben at 8:01 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know about the scholarship but the university I went to had specific conditions I had to meet in the acceptance package. I want to say I had to get a 2.5 which in my case was totally easy even with senioritis. I barely had any classes let to take that last semester and the ones I had left were easy peasey.

I totally get what you're saying about calculus. For some reason I rocked in math and then I hit a certain point and I just couldn't get it. As an engineering major this was tough since my first quarter at university included calculus and the physics and chem e class assumed I knew calculus. It was a disaster. I finally passed calculus after repeating it so the F wouldn't be in my GPA calculation. I passed but even weeks later I couldn't solve a calculus problem with a gun pointed at my head. I ended up changing majors and have managed to avoid any calculus whatsoever in the decades since.

Spanish was mucho más easier to deal with in high school because I had a crush on a student and she helped me study. Since you're not planning to use your Spanish language skills to speak fluently, you should tailor your studying to just getting the minimum required to keep your university admission and scholarship requirements. Rather than trying to learn Spanish to make a trip to Argentina fun, make it all about passing the tests and if a week after the semester is over you can't speak the language for shit, that's OK. To your teacher you should become totally engaged and be 100% authentic in your work.

Talking to the teachers might help you find a way out of your hole and help you over. Actively ask for help from your teachers and other students. Don't be shy and try and get your way out of this yourself. Your teachers want you to succeed and you need to take advantage of it. You're not one of the dumbasses, you're a smart kid that slipped. You're in the home stretch now. You can totally do this.

Definitely talk to your counselor if the requirements aren't in black in white on the documents you got from the university. If you know deep you're in trouble, you can see what can be done to finish. In addition this means you'll have to do great to get out of the whole, but also completely kick ass in your other classes so they can pad your GPA.

Buena suerte, compa.
posted by birdherder at 8:04 PM on April 17, 2012

Response by poster: Ga! jbenben your freaking my out. Ugh maybe this was a bad idea...
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 8:04 PM on April 17, 2012

If your parents are worried about your grades, would they be willing to spring for some tutoring?

It sounds like yes, you have been lazy here and there and made some poor choices (plagiarizing from Wikipedia in particular is a REALLY POOR CHOICE and you are very lucky that stunt did not get you kicked out of high school, let alone college). But also, it sounds like you're under a lot of pressure and some of it isn't really your fault. Senior year is stressful for everyone. And it does seem to me that your school really threw you for a loop by switching up your Calc class.

Tutoring could help you catch up. And it would be scheduled time that you HAVE to spend on these subjects, so you wouldn't be able to just skip studying because you're stressed and bored and don't really want to do it.

I wouldn't blow off Spanish just because it's no longer a requirement for your chosen school -- having even modest skill in a second language is INCREDIBLY useful, and could help you down the line in the workplace.
posted by BlueJae at 8:05 PM on April 17, 2012

Contact the mods immediately and get the name of the uni and all other identifiers scrubbed from this question. The amount of detail you included is, I think, unwise. Privacy and all that, since you are discussing scholarships, etc.

I really wouldn't worry about this part too much. The university is unlikely to rescind your scholarship because of a post on the internet.
posted by grouse at 8:09 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, beg your parents to get you a tutor for those two subjects. Paying a tutor for the next 6 weeks is surely cheaper than losing a $6,500 scholarship, and you'd be surprised how much lost ground you can make up with some one-on-one attention.
posted by drlith at 8:10 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are these courses required for your scholarships and admission to the program, or more importantly, are they required for graduation? I'm not saying that it's necessarily a good thing to give up. But I also don't think it's a bad thing to recognize when you're not able to perform at your best and, for better judgment, take care of things at a later date.

(I dropped out of my Calc II class my senior year and replaced it with a teacher assistant period. Granted, I went to school for something unrelated to math, but it did not affect my scholarships).
posted by erstwhile at 8:13 PM on April 17, 2012

Not to derail, but: on the one hand, you want to go to [my university] for engineering, but on the other everything in your calculus textbook looks like hieroglyphics? You may be making the wrong decision. Give that a bit more thought.

More to the point of your question, I'll nth everyone else and say talk to a counselor and if you don't have all sorts of stuff in writing about your scholarships, get it.
posted by King Bee at 8:13 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: The first scholarship was automatically rewarded to me, the second one has nothing to do with academics.

Yea it is kind of ironic that I want to go into engineering but I'm terrible with Calculus. My reasoning is I'm going to be in classes my freshmen year with people that have never had calculus before. Starting fresh. :)
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 8:17 PM on April 17, 2012

Mod note: removed identifying information including the names of the colleges involved from the question and follow-ups.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:17 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Go talk to your counselor even if the requirements are in black and white. If you don't talk to anyone, and you fall short, you're going to look the same as someone who decides, "I got into college! Party time!" You do hear about rashes of admissions getting rescinded for that. But if it looks like you're going to screw up one semester of calculus and one semester of Spanish, maybe you can come to some sort of arrangement. I mean, yes, you've been a bit lazy and done some dumb things, but falling behind in an advanced math course is scary and can be hard to handle and a lot of people panic and flail around. If you keep hiding this situation out of embarrassment or similar, you have much less chance of sorting it out.
posted by BibiRose at 8:18 PM on April 17, 2012

By "arrangement" I meant maybe summer school to repeat the math. I quit calculus second semester, too, but wish I'd gotten over that hump.
posted by BibiRose at 8:20 PM on April 17, 2012

Lots of students get in trouble, get behind, have material they don't understand, etc. This happens in college too, especially in a demanding program like engineering.

Here is what you do. Take a deep breath, accept that it's a tough situation but still manageable. You can do it. It is within your power. Admit how far behind you are, ask for teachers' and councilor's help in setting up a reasonable plan to catch up, then actually do the work to follow through on plan.

You say in Calc, "I'm lost trying to figure out what kind of problems I should be studying up on." Obvious solution to this: Ask the teacher. Good. Manageable.

Your Spanish teacher's solution to you cheating is an excellent one. It will take some time, yes, but you'll learn/remember a lot while doing it, which will help you get better grades on the rest of the semester.

Do you find you are having a hard time forcing yourself to focus on doing your work? Would it help you to be in a place like a library with no phone and no internet access or laptop games or whatever else is distracting? Maybe you could set up a system of going to the library for 3 hours each day - or whatever will work for you - to really force yourself to actually do the work.

Getting a tutor (or two) is a great idea.

Building these study skills for material you find difficult will, I promise, pay off bigtime once you get to university.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:54 PM on April 17, 2012

I do test prep and college counseling, and yeah, I've seen kids' acceptances retracted for situations like this (or even less severe). You need to seriously buckle down and get C's at least.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:11 PM on April 17, 2012

Definitely definitely definitely talk to as many people as possible. Talk to your counselor, talk to your teachers. Explain what happened-- you actually have pretty good reasons for doing somewhat poorly (better than just "uh I got into college and got lazy"). Ask them for help, ask them about tutors, ask them about extra work you can do for credit or just for practice. Tell them you're trying hard but aren't used to being so overwhelmed, and are looking for strategies. Work on your Calc and Spanish every day. It seems like you might still have a good chance of turning things around, depending on the scholarship requirements. And if worst comes to worst, talk to the scholarship people or admissions counselor at your new school. Often their hands are tied if requirements are broken, but some of them will advocate for you.

I've gotten myself into a few jams in the past, and the best thing to do was to ask for help when I needed it, from anyone who seemed remotely willing to help me. Good luck!
posted by stoneandstar at 9:37 PM on April 17, 2012

The worst thing to do is surprise your counselors with this. If they know it is coming, they may be willing to deal with it. If this comes as a complete surprise at the end of the school year, they are unlikely to be helpful.

The second-worst thing to do is make excuses. Trust me, they have heard all of them.

You need to talk to them right away. Tell them what is happening and demonstrate that you are committed to making it right, through tutoring or summer school or some other remedy. Get a job and pay for tutoring yourself if that is what it takes.

And if you pull that shit in college with the translator and the Wikipedia plagiarism, don't be surprised if you lose your scholarships.
posted by twblalock at 9:47 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

FWIW, I got 2 D's my senior year of high school, in Physics II and Calc I, and still headed off to one of the schools in this year's final four without losing any scholarships. This was to major in atmospheric science. Not engineering, but still techincal stuff. I did pull off a 3 on the Calc AP exam though.

Despite somewhat crapping out in HS physics and calc, I did awesome in them in college since it wasn't all new to me. It's okay that you challenged yourself earlier than some other students.

For good karma, try to own up to your current teachers that you messed up, and that your lack of success isn't really their fault. They probably already feel that way, but the rest of the year will go a little better if they know you feel the same. And show them you mean it and do care about your grades by working hard enough for them to give you a blessed C or D, instead of an F, which looks horrible from any angle.
posted by eelgrassman at 10:00 PM on April 17, 2012

Seriously reconsider engineering if you don't get calculus. Engineering is incredibly maths-heavy. Definitely get a tutor ASAP.
posted by kjs4 at 12:00 AM on April 18, 2012

Yea it is kind of ironic that I want to go into engineering but I'm terrible with Calculus. My reasoning is I'm going to be in classes my freshmen year with people that have never had calculus before. Starting fresh. :)

Ohh boy. It's not "ironic", it's being unrealistic. If that sounds harsh, it's because many engineering programs are harsh.

If I were you, I wouldn't count on getting any slack in your college calculus classes. For one thing, classes in college tend to be faster paced than your HS classes. You'll probably only meet for 50 minutes three times a week, and you do Calc I the first semester and Calc II the second semester. Any engineer who doesn't get through multivariable calculus his/her freshman year is in trouble.

Plus -- and the caveat here is that I went to a school with a top 5 Engineering program -- I wouldn't assume you'll be in a freshman class with a bunch of people who have never taken calculus before. In 1999 almost every one of my freshman classmates had taken enough AP Calc to place out of at least the first semester calculus requirement. I found myself almost a year behind my peers because my HS didn't offer AP classes in most science/math topics.

I'm not trying to scare you off of an Engineering major. All I'm saying is that if you can get a tutor and pass/understand calculus now you'll be doing yourself a huge favor.
posted by sbutler at 1:02 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just, tell me like it is...

Okay. This is a very minor issue compared to what you will face throughout your life, and especially in the next 4-6 years.

If you are feeling challenged or overwhelmed in high school because of the coursework, you are not prepared for a good engineering program at a university.

You can either

A: Seriously reevaluate what you want to do with your life in the next few years

B: Work your ass off studying so that you can get C's in both classes, and spend the summer practicing your math skills.

Good Luck. Also, I hope that you know how lucky you are that your parents are willing to pay for your education. If I was in your position and ended up losing one or more scholarships, I would take the money I would have gotten for free out in loans as a sign of responsibility rather than asking my parents to cover it.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 6:51 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yea it is kind of ironic that I want to go into engineering but I'm terrible with Calculus. My reasoning is I'm going to be in classes my freshmen year with people that have never had calculus before. Starting fresh. :)

This statement is concerning to me. But I don't want to pile on any doubts at this point. You need to figure out what the deal with your scholarship is, and do as well as possible in calculus, whether you continue in engineering or not. Only passing calculus matters at this point.

Perhaps you should post here again at the end of your school year if you would like some additional guidance on your academic plan.
posted by grouse at 10:22 AM on April 18, 2012

I was in your situation during my senior year of high school. I also had similar problems as a junior in college. The lessons were the same each time. Be honest with your teachers and be honest with yourself. Set up an appointment with your counselor (or walk-in, if they do walk-in appointments) first thing tomorrow.

It sounds like you are sick of living with your parents. I don't blame you. All the more reason to put in some hard work now.

Depending on what you mean by "engineering," calculus might not be all that important. I'm a software engineer and don't really need to know calculus. That said, it will be a handicap because you'll need to do at least 3 or 4 more calculus classes in college.

Asking your parents to hire a tutor sounds like a great idea.
posted by yaymukund at 11:52 AM on April 18, 2012

My reasoning is I'm going to be in classes my freshmen year with people that have never had calculus before. Starting fresh.

I wouldn't bet on it. I dropped out of college chemistry (during the add/drop period) partially because it was being taught with the unspoken assumption that everyone had taken HS chemistry. I knew within a week that I was going to be hopelessly overwhelmed.

And do talk to your Calc & Spanish teachers to see what they recommend to help you get caught up. I've always wished I'd talked to the college profs when I was having trouble there. I was just too embarrassed, and as far as I can tell, for no good reason.

Anecdotally, I was something of a slacker my last semester of high school (20 years ago, yipes!) and was able to keep my scholarships. But this definitely seems to be a situation where YMMV.
posted by epersonae at 5:06 PM on April 18, 2012

Response by poster: For future readers...I managed to drop spanish III. I took a WF which means Withdrawl with failure. My counselor says that it won't hurt my GPA too much and [university] won't care. All I have left to do is focus on calculus and I should finish the year off passing. :)
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 8:31 PM on April 20, 2012

... did you ask [university] if they care, or are you taking your high school counselor's word?
posted by twblalock at 9:31 PM on April 20, 2012

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