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Been there done that ? about college math for HS


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I'd like some wisdom in deciding which math classes my ds should enroll in at the community college. Which math sequences have your children followed in high school? What worked and what would you change if you had it to do again? How has that sequence worked for your child in college(if they went to college)?

 

Background on my ds: He is enrolled in an independent study school through CA. Math has always been something he was/is extremely strong in. At one point he wanted to persue engineering. Right now he is thinking of majoring in business. He has taken several classes at the community college. He has finished the math offered at the school and needs to meet the rest of his math credits at the community college.

 

My thinking is that he is ready for Trig. My dh feels he is ready for pre-calc. Today he talked to his advisor at school; she suggested he take college algebra. Her reasons: since he wants to study business, calc is not needed, trig just goes too fast, it will just be easier since he has a heavy load next semester.

 

The colleges he wants to apply to require at least four years of high school math. Currently he has one credit. He will have three more semesters and of course summers to fit in these math classes. I'm worried that he won't be able to fit them in.

 

The college algebra doesn't make sense to me because it is actually a four credit class and I feel that he has covered the material already. The trig class would actually also have review of what he has covered, but is only three credits. He will also be taking a Japanese class which is 5 credits. So that is a consideration also. He will have 3 other classes and a PE class through his independent study.

 

Okay, I'm rambling at this point and I know this isn't a life or death choice. I just need help from some of the moms out there whose dc have done this already.

 

Thanks!

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Is he just beginning high school, or is he almost finished? You mentioned that he has only three semesters but has only one math credit to date?

 

FWIW, many non-math/science majors now require calculus. At the CC my ds attends non-math and science majors have different courses than math/science degree plans and use different textbooks, but judging from the number offered in the course catalog calculus must be required for quite a few degree plans.

 

Many CC's use an ACT based placement test which might give you a better idea of what to do next. In NM there's no charge to take the test.

 

Added thought: It was the author of the Life of Fred math books who clued me in on the fact that lots of social science and business majors are now required to take calculus. In my day statistics was the math of choice.

Edited by Martha in NM
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He will be entering his junior year this January. He has only completed Algebra II in high school. He didn't take a math class at the college this semester because he is taking a five credit Japanese class. We wanted him to adjust to taking such a demanding class without adding on another class. His classes he took before entering this program count as middle school classes.

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If he's had geometry at some point, then I'd suggest you find out how much trig is included in whatever pre-calc you're considering. I'm not sure how much I buy into this theory, but my engineer dh feels that basic trig is trivial, that it's a useless stand-alone course, and that any reasonable person could master it in a week. :confused: He's a mathy type, though, and doesn't always understand that to the person seeing for the first time math can be anything but trivial.

 

Another question; was this advisor at a high school or a college? Based on what she said about business majors not needing calculus, I'd hesitate to rely on her advice.

 

Sometimes, too, it can be difficult to pin down just what's covered in college algebra. Our cc has remedial algebra courses which aren't taken for credit, but it also offers courses for credit in problem solving, intermediate, and advanced algebra; all of which are considered "college" algebra. Which college algebra is needed depends on the particular major.

 

FWIW, our CC considers their advanced algebra (4 hours) plus trig (3) hours to be prerequisites for all its calculus courses whether you're looking at math/science/engineering calculus or the business/social science courses. Both the trig and advanced algebra courses use different parts of the same pre-calc textbook. HOWEVER, none of this may apply to your situation. I've found that for detailed information about scope and sequence you need to go directly to the department. General academic advisors at our CC are helpful, but when ds had detailed questions he was referred to the department office.

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I'm in CA too (Sacramento area). It is standard that all CC students take a math placement test, so regardless of what you or the counselor feel he's ready for, it's the placement test that decides. I'd look into the placement test and then go from there.

 

As for getting all the credits, typically, a 3-unit (or more), one-semester college class equals a one-year high school class. So if he takes 3 college semesters of math, it should be equal to 3 years of high school math to prospective colleges, so he'd be able to squeeze those 3 years in if he gets started soon! Here, enrollment for spring is well under way and classes are filling up already.

 

At our CC there are 3 paths to calculus:

 

1. intermed. Algebra --> Calc for business/econ majors

2. intermed. Alg--> Trig --> Calc for life sci majors

3. intermed. Alg--> Trig --> Precalc --> Calc for engineering & phys. sci majors

 

... so it just depends what your end goal is, and how the classes are set up at your local CC.

 

I also ditto Martha about looking at the math dept. pre-reqs yourself, and not relying on the counselors.

Edited by Jenn in CA
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As for getting all the credits, typically, a 3-unit (or more), one-semester college class equals a one-year high school class. So if he takes 3 college semesters of math, it should be equal to 3 years of high school math to prospective colleges, so he'd be able to squeeze those 3 years in if he gets started soon!

Most of us count a semester c.c. college course as a year of high school, regardless of how many college credits it is. Of course, if someone graduates from the c.c. and transfers to Cal State of U of CA, it doesn't matter how many high school credits he has, as they only look at the c.c. transcript.

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I'd like some wisdom in deciding which math classes my ds should enroll in at the community college. Which math sequences have your children followed in high school? What worked and what would you change if you had it to do again? How has that sequence worked for your child in college(if they went to college)?

 

Background on my ds: He is enrolled in an independent study school through CA. Math has always been something he was/is extremely strong in. At one point he wanted to persue engineering. Right now he is thinking of majoring in business. He has taken several classes at the community college. He has finished the math offered at the school and needs to meet the rest of his math credits at the community college.

 

My thinking is that he is ready for Trig. My dh feels he is ready for pre-calc. Today he talked to his advisor at school; she suggested he take college algebra. Her reasons: since he wants to study business, calc is not needed, trig just goes too fast, it will just be easier since he has a heavy load next semester.

 

The colleges he wants to apply to require at least four years of high school math. Currently he has one credit. He will have three more semesters and of course summers to fit in these math classes. I'm worried that he won't be able to fit them in.

 

The college algebra doesn't make sense to me because it is actually a four credit class and I feel that he has covered the material already. The trig class would actually also have review of what he has covered, but is only three credits. He will also be taking a Japanese class which is 5 credits. So that is a consideration also. He will have 3 other classes and a PE class through his independent study.

 

Okay, I'm rambling at this point and I know this isn't a life or death choice. I just need help from some of the moms out there whose dc have done this already.

 

Thanks!

 

The advisor is very much incorrect. Most business schools require a calculus course -- at many, there is a specific calculus course for business and social sciences. This specific calculus course often requires merely college algebra as a prerequisite, and doesn't delve deeply into trig functions.

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...Which math sequences have your children followed in high school? What worked and what would you change if you had it to do again? How has that sequence worked for your child in college(if they went to college)?

 

... My thinking is that he is ready for Trig. My dh feels he is ready for pre-calc. Today he talked to his advisor at school; she suggested he take college algebra.

 

The college algebra doesn't make sense to me because it is actually a four credit class and I feel that he has covered the material already. The trig class would actually also have review of what he has covered, but is only three credits. ...

 

He will be entering his junior year this January. He has only completed Algebra II in high school.

 

 

From what I quoted above, I see that your son has only had Algebra II. College Algebra is usually (not always, it can differ from place to place) considered Algebra III. It is generally followed by Trigonometry. The two courses together - College Algebra and Trigonometry - are considered equivalent to Precalculus.

 

I agree with the previous poster who stated that the determining factor may well be the placement test that is given by the community college. If your son has a solid Algebra II background, he will most likely place into College Algebra. In order to place into Trigonometry, he will need to have both a solid background in College Algebra and Geometry.

 

My daughter's math path was:

 

Algebra I (8th grade)

Geometry (9th grade)

Algebra II (10th grade)

College Algebra and Trigonometry (11th grade at the community college. Both classes used the same text, Precalculus by Sullivan.)

AP Statistics (12th grade through PA Homeschoolers)

 

My daughter is now in college and fulfilled the math requirement by her score of 5 in AP Statistics. Her current plan is to major in the Classics or Latin therefore she need not take additional math.

 

Regards,

Kareni

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If your ds has done up to Algebra 2, ...... Take a placement test in CC. With achieving solid passing score, you will know what math course he should take in CC.

 

In general, with Algebra 2 under your belt, you either can take College Algebra or Pre-Calculus, depend on how fast-pace track fit you. Pre-Calculus is College Algebra plus Trig. So if you choose Pre-Cal, you are going to learn both College Algebra and Trig in one semester. If that's too fast-pace for you, you can do College Algebra for one semester, and then spend another semester for Trig alone. So I would say it's your choice.

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We are in TN and my oldest ds is not mathematically confident, so our sequence may not apply to your situation at all.

 

8th grade- Alg1

 

9th grade- attempted Alg2, finished Geometry

 

10th grade- finished Alg2

 

11th grade- something that we titled Advanced Math. This included a review of basic math beginning with fractions and decimals, continuing through order of operations, pre-algebra, basic algebra and graphing through the Kumon center. It also included going to a math tutor each week for review of Alg2 and geometry topics, introduction to some advanced algebra and trig topics, and ACT prep.

 

12th grade- This semester he is taking College Algebra at the cc.

 

As a dual enrollment student in TN, he did not need to take a placement test. Instead the cc looked at his ACT scores. With a math sub-section score of 25 on the ACT, ds could have taken either College Algebra or Pre-Calc Algebra. Here there is a two-semester sequence of Pre-Calc Alg/ College Trig. So, if you lived in TN, Pre-Calc Alg would be a prerequisite for College Trig.

 

Next semester he will do math with the tutor he used last year. I am leaving placement, topics, and text up to the tutor. To maintain the confidence that he has built over the past year and a half, we just decided that he shouldn't take a semester off before college.

 

HTH-

Mandy

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My daughter is currently a junior at college working on a degree in information systems (business). I would say to go for College Algebra, Business Calculus, and Statistics. She also needed a junior level Statistics course, but that won't be a the CC.

 

But you will probably need to take a placement test to see where he is allowed to start.

 

Linda

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Thanks for all the replies. I do think his advisor(at the high school) is incorrect about calc not being needed for a business degree. She is the one that determines his placement at the college.

 

Now I do feel better about him taking college algebra.

 

Linda in TX, I think the sequence your dd took would work for us.

 

Thanks again for all the replies--I feel not so worried right now.

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My son just finished his first full-load quarter at the CC as a HS junior. B/C of his homeschool high school courses, he was able to pretty much go directly into the Engineering Transfer Degree program at the CC.

 

He had taken pre-calc in 10th grade, but hadn't finished it yet when he took the test to qualify for the dual-enrollment program in March or April. Had he finished it, I am sure he'd have tested higher. BUT, based on the test results which placed him into Trig. @ the CC and advice from people here and IRL, he took College Algebra over the summer to get his feet wet with 1 course (theoretically a repeat of his previous year) - he aced it, no problem. This qtr. he took Trig. It also was a repeat of stuff he'd covered in Chalkdust pre-calc, and he aced it also. Despite all that, I don't see it as wasted time taking the CC credits (and us paying for the summer class) because it got him off to a really strong start in the maths at the CC. There were people a lot older than him who asked him for help, which boosted his confidence in the college atmosphere. It also was good for him to NOT have to tackle Calculus I and 1st qtr.(of 3 qtr. sequence) of Chem. for science majors at the same time, and with an English Comp. class. BTW, he just got his grades and got 2 A's and a B.

 

I highly recommend talking to an advisor @ the CC in the major your child is wanting to pursue. The hour that the head of the Engineering Transfer Degree Program gave us was invaluable, particularly for knowing which math and science classes are offered which quarters, 'cuz with our CC if you miss it, it may be a year before it's offered again.

 

HTH,

Kimm

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