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Math "detour" is this a bad idea?


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My 11th grader has always been a pretty good/intuitive math student, though with a tendency to do a lot in his head and work quickly, sometimes making careless mistakes.

I messed up his Algebra 2 math last year, trying lots of programs (4!) before I finally found a good fit (A Fresh Approach) half way through last year. It was my error. He should be done with Algebra 2 in the next month. 

I *think* I would like him to be really solid in Algebra (1 and 2) and Pre-Calc before graduation. I'm assuming, if he has a strong foundation through pre-calculus, he should do ok if he needs calculus in college based on my own experiences. Is that correct thinking?

He's has no solid future direction, but business related degrees are possible interests. So, based on my experiences in college, I'd like him to have statistics and, ideally, basic accounting in high school. I don't think we'll have time for that if we do a full pre-calc and then calculus program. Given my mess with Algebra 2,  I don't think he will have time to get through traditional calculus even if I didn't do statistics or accounting. 

I'm wondering about doing this with him for the remainder of 11th grade:

Math U See Pre-Calc (I'm assuming this will be light for him, maybe doable in 11th grade starting late, given he has completed Algebra 2 with a more traditional sequence). This would let me put Pre-Calculus on the transcript for his 11th grade year despite my mistakes with Algebra 2.

I think I might have him review Algebra 2 from his current program, just to keep things that might not be covered in MUS pre-calc fresh. He would be working on SAT math prep as well. 

I hope  the load from MUS would be low enough that we might be able to do statistics, and maybe accounting.  

His 12th grade year, I would maybe do MUS calculus and perhaps run through a traditional pre-calculus as well? My thoughts are that I want him to have a strong pre-calculus foundation and keep being challenged, and maybe MUS wouldn't give him that. But I want his transcript to show a traditional math each year, so I don't love the idea of just having pre-calculus on the transcript. 

 

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Sounds a lot like my 2nd DS!

He had Alg I and II, Geometry, and Precalc on his transcript. We spent LOTS of time on Algebra, making sure he had it down pat before moving on, and I have zero regrets about that. He started Alg 1 in 8th grade but took 5 years to go through those 4 courses. DS is doing just fine in university calculus right now, and he received the highest merit scholarship the university gives out to boot. Unless they are STEM and/or in an extremely competitive major and/or an extremely competitive school, they really do not have to have calculus in high school.

I wouldn't rush it and I wouldn't worry about what to do next until he's done with Precalc. I wouldn't use Math U See, I'd just start him with a traditional precalc and see how long it takes him. When he finishes, you can put 4 math courses on his transcript, regardless of when he did them. And if he finishes it in the middle of senior year, you can figure out whether to do a shorter accounting or stats class at that point.

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What is his intended major? I wouldn’t use MUS for a STEM bound kid, but otherwise, I don’t see a problem. 

And Statistics can be taken as an elective in addition to a regular math course.

Also I am not sure what would be the purpose of MUS calculus. If I were to put my kid in Calculus, I would go with an AP version or DE. 
If you really want him to have Calculus, why not work hard on a solid Algebra 2 and Precalculus sequence and then take Calculus at a CC the second half of his senior year?

Which brings us back to his intended major. Does he even going to need a calculus course? 

 

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My kids have done business degrees. Oldest is accounting and he just started at a Big Four accounting firm. He never had any calculus at all. He took precalculus de at a cc and did a very basic de stats course his senior year. He didn't need to take any math in college.

My second ds is a senior marketing major. His degree has been more math heavy than the accountant. He needed business calculus and two stats classes. He transferred in the business calc and first stats class from de. The second stats class has kicked his butt. More than once 😞 All that I can think would have helped him was just being more solid in the basics and more confident. I don't wish we had pushed him through calculus even though the math parts of his courses have tortured him. More solid in the basics and more comfort with math would have helped though.

My third ds is still a senior in high school. He is planning on business analytics and/or accounting. Looking ahead to his coursework at our state flagship business school (which is decently ranked but not a public Ivy or anything) he will need just a business calculus class, not a full calc for STEM majors class and a stats class. He is taking AP Calculus with Derek Owens his senior year but really just because he loves math. He wouldn't need it to succeed in his business studies. 

All that to say that most business schools are not very math heavy. Some are more than others (middle ds has needed more than most schools I have looked at).  I would focus on the algebra and precalc so he is ready to encounter the math he will in business courses. They will not expect him to have calculus but he will need to be solid enough to apply the algebra to what they study. The stats class is a good idea as an intro too. Based on my kids' experiences I would make sure the basics are solid and there is an intro to stats so that they can handle what math they are given in their business courses. 

*insert my standard disclaimer that I am not referring to highly competitive or Ivy type schools. I am sure some of their business degrees require more math. My experience is with a couple big state universities that are in the top 100, and smaller regional private and public universities.

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I have used MUS geometry and pre-calculus in the past. They were easy to use, open and go. I wished I had used something else for pre-calculus. DS was scheduled to take calculus in college his first semester and since he had his schedule in hand decided to get a head start in class since the first two weeks would be a quick review of pre-calculus. He said he felt like he was learning it for the first time. I wish I had checked out the High School Pre-calculus listings in the pinned posts above and I would have known better. Someone posted that the MUS Pre-calculus was just their trigonometry course repackaged with six extra lessons! We decided to have him take pre-calc at the college and will schedule Calculus the next semester. It was a setback. Maybe, your experience will be different if you plan to follow up with their calculus curriculum, but if you’re not sure you will fit it in, choose something other than MUS.

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He will only get out of the math what he puts in to it. IF he is looking for a light load math, just so he can check the box for credits, then, whatever is fine. But if you actually want him to learn something and be prepared for the next level in college, MUS precalculus is not going to cut it. MUS is great for arithmetic levels, but once in the high school levels, it is not good. Frankly, if you are looking for a reason to put precalculus on his transcript but not wanting effort, just put it there and forget about it. If he wants math that will prepare him for the next step, then you should choose something that will take time, not just a light brush over. Simply, if he puts little in to it, he will get little out. If he puts a lot in to it, he will get a lot out.

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Half credit precalc this year when he finishes algebra 2, half credit next year along with a half credit of stats. 

If he so happens to finish precalc this year, then he can do a full credit of stats next year, but it's not worth rushing. It is worth working some extra days, though, imo. Like doing just math for part of his usual Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break holidays. And going a couple of weeks later than his usual school year. 

I wouldn't do accounting if it makes his schedule rushed or crammed. If I did do it, it would be as a half credit, with an emphasis on terminology, types of accounting, and the basics of spreadsheets. I don't see any great benefit to it, though. Every business major is going to take an accounting course - if he thinks he might actually want accounting, he should make sure to take the course that will count toward an accounting degree, and not the generic business one. Senior year is busy. 

Some business majors/schools require calculus or business calculus, many do not. Yes, he should be fine if he's solid through precalculus, but either way, there's no rushing it. He gets through what he gets through. No sense rushing because of the very slight chance that he will have to take an extra math course in college. 

 

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Thank you to everyone who replied--I think that my plan was a bad idea is unanimous--which helps. I'm glad I asked.

So I will move him into a traditional pre-calculus, taking whatever time it takes. After reading here, I see the wisdom in that. I feel good about it. 

I think part of my thinking was I didn't want him to finish pre-calculus and then have a formal math break of a semester or more just before enrollment in college. Maybe it wouldn't matter.  I'll cross that bridge if/when we reach it. 

 I assumed that colleges now expected calculus. I'm glad to know that is not true. 

 Statistics was one of the tougher early courses for most of those in the college of business at my university (hence my wanting to prepare him), and I felt so grateful for my high school accounting when my peers were dropping out of majors because they got lost in those early accounting classes. That, and I think he might actually like accounting if he tries it. I appreciate the thoughts shared here about those too. It helps me make these decisions. I may go ahead and dip toes into statistics at the same time and just see if it's too much. 

He's really unclear on future direction. That's part of my problem. I don't want to close doors. 

That and..I just want a little margin in his world. He's involved in some really time intensive extra-curriculars and school is time consuming of course- it just feels like things are moving so fast. I won't have my kids here much longer. 

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I agree that I'd avoid a math break of a semester if he's going to look at a business degree.

They usually require stats and very, very often a "calculus for business" course. The good news is that the calculus for business course usually doesn't cover trig, but the bad news is that it does usually expect solid college algebra skills. I've taught this course several times, although only once recently, and weak algebra skills are what tank a lot of the students.

I agree with going for a solid precalculus course, and then if you have time doing some calc-lite with MUS.

If you just want to dip your toes into statistics, David Lippman's Math in Society is free and has a nice trio of chapters on statistics, describing data, and probability. They're pretty standalone.

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