The Math Classes Your Teen Needs for College Success (page 2)

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Updated on Dec 22, 2010

What if your child isn’t math-oriented? 

Will not taking Calculus sabotage a student’s chances to get into college? This is where the picture gets murkier. It’s true that the more academic a student appears to be, the better chance he has of getting into a college. But what if math is difficult for a child, and he thrives on English and History?

Oberlin’s Abeyta gives parents this advice: “It’s best for students to take challenging courses that they prefer to take. No selective college likes to see a ‘C’ on a transcript.” So if you suspect that your child will really struggle with Calculus, it might be better to find a different path. In that case, where is there to go after Algebra II? 

Pre-Calculus or its Alternative

If an honors level of Pre-Calculus is offered, students can be assured that the regular level is still a strong course. And some schools offer a Pre-Calculus equivalent, called Trigonometry or Analytic Geometry. As long as it meets the A-G requirements for the UC system, it’s a good class to take.

Statistics is a form of math that appeals to people who like writing and explaining. AP Statistics is considered to be a strong math course by most colleges. An outstanding grade in AP Statistics would look better on a transcript than a weak grade in AP Calculus.

It’s important to have some AP courses on your transcript if your high school offers them. Therefore, students should balance a less-rigorous math class with liberal arts courses like AP History, AP English, AP Spanish, or AP Psychology.

All colleges are looking for a high school transcript that presents a student who took advantage of the best courses offered at his school. Therefore, a child should take as many academic classes as he can handle with aplomb. But it’s also important to remember that undue amounts of stress are destructive, and that there will always be a good-fit college for a student as long as he meets the basic eligibility requirements by taking Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra II.

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