Dylan Just Wanted a Little Help.

In a month, Dylan will select his classes for 11th grade. For four years, I’ve been pushing him in the direction that – I believe – suits him best: the IBCP program. The program is not as strenuous as the full IB diploma program, but it incorporates a handful of IB (broad-thinking, college-level) classes and a program of hands-on action classes (in his case, computer science).

Dylan certainly has the intelligence to get the IBCP diploma. But this week, for the first time, I talked to his AP Computer Science teacher about possibly dropping out of the program entirely.

“Do you think he can handle the IB classes?” I asked him. “We have to decide soon, and it seems that he is really struggling taking one AP class.”

The Computer Science teacher – who is both enthusiastic and supportive of Dylan – said no IB, and yes – maybe:

“I would initially say no.   That being said…I would like to challenge him …if he can prove himself in the second half of AP COMP SCI, then maybe we could talk IB.   The fact is this is an easier AP class…and IB classes would eat him alive if he acts the same way.…  I will ask that this be his challenge class!   If you challenge him  “Do well and we can talk IB”….otherwise we have to go other options.”

Immediately after I got the email from his teacher, Dylan’s case manager emailed me. “Dylan really wants to drop Computer Science next semester,” she said.

This, of course, would eliminate him from the IBCP program – and from IB course eligibility – altogether.

So I started looking at possibilities for Dylan’s schedule. He could take a much simpler schedule, and continue to do as little work as possible because he hates school. He could drop out of IB, never take another AP course, and even drop out of Honors level classes, if he so desires.

But… everything I’ve read about colleges – everything, from every college admissions office – says that they prefer to admit a student who gets okay grades in challenging classes, than to admit a student who gets A’s in on-grade-level classes.

So I talked to Dylan about it after school – about the conflicting emails, about his Computer Science teacher encouraging him to challenge himself, about his case manager encouraging him to drop out of the class because it’s too challenging.

I was not prepared for what Dylan had to say about it.

“What I really want,” Dylan said, “is for my Computer Science teacher to help me when I ask him. He’s too busy! He always says he’ll be right there, and then he never comes back to answer my question.”

This floored me. Dylan just wanted a little help. His teacher was busy, certainly, and had a lot of kids clamoring for assistance. But it sounded to me like there was a huge gap in communication – rather than a problem with the class being too challenging, or Dylan not wanting to be challenged, or whatever.

It sounded to me like Dylan just needed to spend a few minutes with the teacher.

So I set up a meeting for them to work it out.

I have no idea what Dylan will do about the IB program.

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