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College Discussion / College Admissions and Search / Colleges and Universities / CC Top Universities / Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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michaelwiggins
Posts: **401**Registered User Member

Hey, I'm actually curious about this question in regards to other top science/math/engineering schools, like Caltech, Olin, and the like, if anybody can answer it for them. I chose MIT specifically because I thought it might be an extreme example. Anyway, I want to know on average, what the highest level math course is that people who are accepted to MIT completed in high school.

There was a local college fair that I went to with over 200 schools, and I asked a lot of the top schools' representatives this questions. Few, if any, could even give me an idea, haha. Yale's guy said that when he went, most had taken Calculus, but he was about 50, so I assume things have at least changed a little bit.

Personally, my school doesn't offer Calculus, so I've gone to the local community college to take Calculus 1 (differential) and Calculus 2 (integral). In the fall, which is my senior year, I'll be taking Linear Algebra there, and I'm not sure about what I'll take the spring semester (all that's left is differential equations and Calc 3, but those classes are scheduled very badly for a HS student). And I don't think I'll be able to specify what I'm taking during the spring semester on college apps anyway.

Also, what math have those in the top 10 percent in this category at MIT (this somewhat unquantifiable category) taken? Thanks!

There was a local college fair that I went to with over 200 schools, and I asked a lot of the top schools' representatives this questions. Few, if any, could even give me an idea, haha. Yale's guy said that when he went, most had taken Calculus, but he was about 50, so I assume things have at least changed a little bit.

Personally, my school doesn't offer Calculus, so I've gone to the local community college to take Calculus 1 (differential) and Calculus 2 (integral). In the fall, which is my senior year, I'll be taking Linear Algebra there, and I'm not sure about what I'll take the spring semester (all that's left is differential equations and Calc 3, but those classes are scheduled very badly for a HS student). And I don't think I'll be able to specify what I'm taking during the spring semester on college apps anyway.

Also, what math have those in the top 10 percent in this category at MIT (this somewhat unquantifiable category) taken? Thanks!

Post edited by michaelwiggins on

## Replies to: On average, what is the highest-level math course that MIT students took in HS?

6,768Registered User Senior MemberSomewhere in between top 5 and 10% probably have seen a significant amount of college math beyond calculus (e.g., number theory, analysis, etc.). Top 10% have taken multivariable calculus for sure. Sometimes people take linear algebra instead like you did.

2,856Registered User Senior MemberNot sure what you mean by the top 10%, but some people come in with differential equations, some with higher. I knew a guy who came in already having completed the undergraduate math curriculum and started with grad-level classes.

6,768Registered User Senior MemberMost of the time, the highest track in school is to take calculus senior year. If you are advanced on your own, you might end up taking it a year early and thus have a year to spend on multi-variable calculus or linear algebra at a local community college. If people have gone to special schools or have physicist parents, maybe you are beyond that, but you sure as hell aren't going to get it in the public school system.

For that reason, I suspect that the median entering freshman has taken multivariable calculus.

3,752Registered User Senior MemberWhy do I bring this up? The actual tracks you can take through college math are very varied, and you'll find that regardless of what random facts you know, it's hard to progress far rapidly unless you have what they call "mathematical maturity", which is certainly beyond just writing proofs. This maturity can be acquired in a hard class on something like MVC or Lin. Algebra or in something beyond, and I think what matters is when you get it.

There's a good number of people I know at my own school who did multivariable calculus and linear algebra in some form...but with such shallow understanding and so little mathematical maturity that they might as well just have taken calculus.

465Registered User Member2,039Registered User Senior MemberFor top-ten percent, according to geomom's post here - http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/massachusetts-institute-technology/843128-mit-vs-caltech-admitted-both.html#post1063859093, I guess it would still be Calc BC, but they're more likely to have experience with like, math past single-variable stuff.

But as long as you're ready to take calculus by your freshman year in college, you'll be fine at MIT.

425- Member1,534College Rep Senior MemberBeyond that, I don't think there is a meaningful "average." I've seen everything from basic calculus to "i've already taken every single undergraduate math course offered at my state university."

I think the mean would probably be AP Calc AB / BC, to be completely honest. If you're taking AP Calc AB, you're fine - we won't look down on you for not being good enough at math, but it also won't make me go "woah, look at their curriculum", eh?

401Registered User MemberAlso I now realize I didn't phrase this well enough, since its hard to gauge how "high level" a math course is. I guess I figured Calc BC was probably the mean, but how about: How many people take a course /after/ Calc AB/BC?

And I guess while we're all here..lol... I've been wondering how some CC'ers manage to take math courses at their local universities, rather than community colleges? Do you have to take some sort of entrance exam, or just have some weird hook up?

Thanks again!

3,752Registered User Senior MemberSo look into programs like this close to you, if you like, and only if you like.

Note that paying and taking classes may not help you much at all with admissions anywhere, so don't do it except for the enrichment and preparation.

3,752Registered User Senior MemberComment: this may be because it wasn't taught and/or understood properly, which I find is notoriously the case quite often.

798Registered User MemberNote: These classes also tend to be expensive (~$1000)

401Registered User MemberBut again, thanks everyone for your responses.

100Registered User Junior Member1,607Registered User Senior MemberBut the vast majority will not get any farther than calc - either AB or BC.

If you are aiming for top math/science schools, you will probably find that at least some math past calc will not transfer. You will have to sit a placement test of some sort at which point you may learn, somewhat painfully, that community college linear algebra is not equal to MIT linear algebra.

I don't know that a spring semester past linear at the CC will be very worthwhile. How about AP stat?