right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
We have changed the way we log in on College Confidential. Read more here.

Level of math classes a student has to have to be accepted at most selective colleges

GW07626GW07626 27 replies6 threads Junior Member
edited December 2019 in College Admissions
How important is it for a student to be taking calculus in their senior year? If they are not up to the level of taking calculus in senior year (the student will only be taking pre-calculus senior year) but they are taking other rigorous classes and are within the average range of GPA for the most selective colleges, will not having calculus cause them or negatively impact their chances of being accepted at a highly selective college? The student is not majoring in STEM fields. Will their lower math class be a problem when everything else is excellent?
edited December 2019
26 replies
Post edited by CCadmin_Sorin on
· Reply · Share
«1

Replies to: Level of math classes a student has to have to be accepted at most selective colleges

  • tdy123tdy123 1005 replies18 threads Senior Member
    Couple of ways of looking at this.

    The first is that the "most selective" colleges generally want to see that the student's GC checked the "most rigorous classes" box to describe the student's classes taken relative to the other students in their HS. At some schools that would necessitate taking Calc BC, at others it might take Multi-var, and at others anything over basic algebra or trig would be fine.

    The second is that even a student "not majoring in STEM fields" might have a need for some rigorous math. Many top universities have officially reclassified their Econ programs as STEM in the last few years. Liberal Arts disciplines including sociology, pol sci etc., are becoming increasingly data driven and the most selective schools are very aware of this.

    At the most selective schools, all things are not otherwise equal, and no two applicants are identical, but if they were, and one had more advanced math than the other? Well, the least you could say is that the one with the more advanced math certainly wouldn't be at any disadvantage.
    · Reply · Share
  • wisteria100wisteria100 4312 replies48 threads Senior Member
    It depends on how selective you are talking about. For instance, Wesleyan really likes to see calculus. They say that something like 85% of admitted students have calculus on their transcript. If calculus is not available at your school, that's one thing, but if it is offered and an applicant did not take it, that would be noted at the very selective schools. You see a lot of posts from kids asking if I'm not going into stem - is it okay for my math scores to be low/out of range? The fact is, at the very top schools, the majority of admits have high scores/rigor in both areas.
    · Reply · Share
  • FiftyFifty 194 replies4 threads Junior Member
    It is important to take math every year in high school. Taking precalculus during senior year does not preclude admission to the most selective colleges as long as the student is doing well and shows great strengths in other areas. Calculus is helpful, but not required.
    · Reply · Share
  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 3285 replies39 threads Senior Member
    No particular level of any course is required by most colleges, merely years of study. Nevertheless, if over 90% of admitted students have studied calculus, as at Harvard, one should be guided accordingly.
    · Reply · Share
  • AlwaysLearnAlwaysLearn 343 replies17 threads Member
    I agree with others here.

    I would say if she is wanting to major in anything STEM related at a selective college, not having calc may put her at a disadvantage.

    Since she is not pursuing a STEM major, I would say it is recommended but not necessarily required. I also remember calc being mentioned when we visited Wesleyan; the admissions officer mentioned most students had taken it in high school.

    And yes, if she doesn't end up taking it, check to see if your guidance counselor will still check the "most rigorous" box.

    Best of luck!
    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79732 replies714 threads Senior Member
    Only a small number of US colleges and universities require or recommend calculus in high school for frosh admission:

    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/discussion/comment/21642599/#Comment_21642599 (but check for changes)

    Otherwise, being at the normal level (precalculus in 12th grade) due to progression set by middle school placement is probably less of an issue than being on an advanced track (precalculus in 11th grade or earlier) and then choosing not to take calculus that was available.
    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79732 replies714 threads Senior Member
    tdy123 wrote: »
    The second is that even a student "not majoring in STEM fields" might have a need for some rigorous math. Many top universities have officially reclassified their Econ programs as STEM in the last few years. Liberal Arts disciplines including sociology, pol sci etc., are becoming increasingly data driven and the most selective schools are very aware of this.

    Economics typically is not considered "STEM". However, there is variation in math requirements (in college, as opposed to high school) for economics majors; some colleges require no calculus, some require single variable calculus, and some require multivariable calculus and/or linear algebra. Students planning to go on to PhD study in economics should prefer more math-intensive economics programs, and take additional advanced math and statistics courses (e.g. real analysis, probability theory).

    Other social sciences will benefit from stronger knowledge of statistics (it may be helpful to take calculus-based statistics in college).
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35111 replies398 threads Senior Member
    Yes, econ can require strong math skills. But for humanities, an A in precalc beats obsessing/rushing into calc, and getting a B.

    I don't know if OP means most "selective" colleges or "most-selective."
    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79732 replies714 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    But for humanities, an A in precalc beats obsessing/rushing into calc, and getting a B.

    For most students, reaching calculus in high school or not is determined by middle school math placement, despite a small number of students trying to rush ahead in high school with summer math courses.

    But then the college admissions frenzy that causes people to believe that calculus in high school is "necessary" for more colleges than it actually is gets propogated down to middle school (or even elementary school if math placement then affects middle school placement). It also leads to inappropriate pushing ahead for some students (like the +2 track students struggling in math these days -- a generation ago, only the very top students in math were put in the +2 track, where they still got easy A grades).
    edited December 2019
    · Reply · Share
  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 3285 replies39 threads Senior Member
    In much of the developed world, calculus is an expected high school course. I am not sure how much pushing occurs compared to just keeping up.
    · Reply · Share
  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1689 replies13 threads Senior Member
    On CC, what one person considers most selective varies. Maybe cite the suggested colleges and people can comment.
    Also, it depends on the intended major. An intended STEM major or Econ, or many other things will likely benefit from having Calc. Someone going into Classics might not need the Calc credit. It certainly can't hurt to have it.
    It will also depend on the curriculum of the school. If the school offers very advanced classes and the student doesn't take the most difficult that could be noted.
    · Reply · Share
  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2583 replies5 threads Senior Member
    "the most selective colleges, will not having calculus cause them or negatively impact their"

    This is a toughie, as a lot of these are. You would have to define most selective, as others have posted, because for some it won't matter at all, for some it could matter quite a bit, even for non-STEM. But then you have to consider accelerating in the summer to take calculus as senior, and that's not that a great option, imo, and not sure how that's looked on by adcoms.
    · Reply · Share
  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35111 replies398 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    The courses need to make sense, overall. I'd rather a humanities kid ensured he/she had the rigorous core histories and scores over shorting them just to get calc in. And it gets grey when you jump to micro/macro or govt/politics without that core basis.

    But I agree that many don't realize econ, in particular, can need strong math comprehension. Not all forms of the major, but this is about admissions.
    edited December 2019
    · Reply · Share
  • AlmostThere2018AlmostThere2018 1430 replies57 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    Anecdotal alert -- My D18's best friend was accepted ED to Northwestern (had legacy boost) w/o Calculus. She took AP Stats her junior year and then a college Biostats course her senior year. She's pursuing global health so it fit with her interests/track. She had lots of other rigor in her schedule. Also, 34 ACT and 4.0UW GPA at a top public school in state.
    edited December 2019
    · Reply · Share
  • tdy123tdy123 1005 replies18 threads Senior Member

    ucbalumnus wrote: »

    Economics typically is not considered "STEM".

    In the past, economics had not "typically" been considered STEM, however that is changing, with a growing number of the most selective schools including UC Berkeley, UCLA, Princeton, MIT, Brown, NYU, Yale, Cornell and Columbia having reclassified their econ undergrad majors as STEM.

    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79732 replies714 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    Re : #15

    UCB lists economics as a social science major:
    https://ls.berkeley.edu/social_sciences

    But not as any other kind of science:
    https://ls.berkeley.edu/mathematical_and_physical_sciences
    https://ls.berkeley.edu/biological_sciences
    edited December 2019
    · Reply · Share
  • homerdoghomerdog 5748 replies105 threads Senior Member
    If you take precalc as a junior, I do think it's important to take calc as a senior and not move to stats. Probably not so important for most schools but, for elite schools, that would be seen as taking the less rigorous route.

    Just an anecdote but a friend of mine knows someone in Pomona admissions and she said they did weed out kids without calc. Now, most kids applying there had calc from what we heard so I don't know what percentage did not. But she did specifically say it was one way to whittle down the applicants.
    · Reply · Share
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79732 replies714 threads Senior Member
    homerdog wrote: »
    Just an anecdote but a friend of mine knows someone in Pomona admissions and she said they did weed out kids without calc. Now, most kids applying there had calc from what we heard so I don't know what percentage did not. But she did specifically say it was one way to whittle down the applicants.

    Looks like Pomona now recommends "Four years of mathematics (including calculus for students interested in STEM field majors)" at https://www.pomona.edu/admissions/apply .

    Agree that students completing precalculus in 11th grade should take calculus in 12th grade if available and they are aiming for more selective colleges. But that is not the OP's student's situation, since s/he will be in precalculus in 12th grade, presumably due to progression set in middle school.
    · Reply · Share
  • tdy123tdy123 1005 replies18 threads Senior Member
    ucbalumnus wrote: »

    "In June 2019, the Economics undergraduate and graduate degree programs were approved to be classified as a science, techinology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related discipline. Please see Economics CIP Code Update and FAQs to learn more." - https://www.econ.berkeley.edu/faq#STEM
    · Reply · Share
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 5054 replies22 threads Senior Member
    Love all the facts but..... Every college I know of sorta sells out Calc 1 in college. Lots of kids in those classes . Every college we talked to wanted the student ready for Calc 1. Every college also stated if you don't place into it then precalc is offered..

    So that would be the recommended. When applying to colleges if your able to you want to take higher then the recommended to stand out.

    But if everything else is on par I wouldn't lose sleep over it.
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity