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Math mavens, what's your recommendation?

misssassyinctmisssassyinct 4 replies1 threads New Member
My son will be taking pre-calc as a freshman. His high school is recommending that he take BC Calc as a sophmore, multi-variable as a junior and whatever he wants at a local college when he's a senior.

Here's my thought: he likes math okay but it isn't his main interest and I see no need to go beyond multi-variable in high school. Other parents in this position have suggested he take AP Stats as a senior, but I don't want there to be a gap in calculus between his senior year and his first year of college. Would it be okay to take AP Stats as a freshman, then complete the sequence of pre-calc, BC Calc and multivariable?

This is my oldest, I'm not a math person, and I just don't have the experience to judge what's best. Your advice?
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Replies to: Math mavens, what's your recommendation?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80089 replies719 threads Senior Member
    If he takes statistics after calculus, he can take calculus based statistics at the college if the college offers it.

    What are his favorite subjects?
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1556 replies35 threads Senior Member
    Plenty of kids finished their math sequence before their senior year and some of them take their calculus again in college. Having a one-year gap in calculus is immaterial, assuming the kid has learned the material well.
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  • misssassyinctmisssassyinct 4 replies1 threads New Member
    @ucbalumnus Thank you for your suggestion! That's a good point, he could just take a calculus-based statistics class his senior year. I hadn't considered that option. That's why I'm here--so more knowledgeable people can advise!

    His favorite subjects are social studies and writing. He likes math and science (especially the labs) but is not a fan of his Spanish and art/music classes.

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  • misssassyinctmisssassyinct 4 replies1 threads New Member
    @1NJParent good to know! I guess in my experience, if I don't use it frequently, I tend to lose it but maybe that's why I'm not in a mathematical field.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 5943 replies108 threads Senior Member
    Our S19 took MV as a senior and then took Linear Algebra as a college freshman. He will most likely be a math major. So, if your S is taking MV as a junior, I think it's fine to take AP Stats. Once he gets to college, the school will help him decide which math to take....or his BC Calc score to get him out of math all together if he doesn't need a math class for his major.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80089 replies719 threads Senior Member
    edited January 19
    Social studies will go better with a strong knowledge of statistics. Calculus based statistics may be a better foundation (compared to AP statistics) for a student who is strong in math. He may also have the option of doing both a social studies major and another major or minor in statistics or data science.

    If his interests in social studies head toward economics, that can be very math heavy at advanced (PhD, and upper level undergraduate at some colleges) levels. Multivariable calculus and linear algebra could be useful. Pre-PhD students may take more advanced math and statistics like real analysis and probability theory.

    Regarding writing, depending on what he wants to write about, it can be advantageous to be a writer who can understand and explain advanced math and statistics concepts to general readers.
    edited January 19
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  • dreambig55dreambig55 118 replies7 threads Junior Member
    I was somewhat in this situation with my S20. He took AP Calc BC as a junior and phased out of the math classes offered at his HS. Initially, the plan was to take Calc 3 online through UIUC as a senior. When the HS has done this in the past with a small group of students, they group them into the same class period so they can work on this class "together." Unfortunately, that is not what happened with my son (he was essentially in a "study hall" by himself) and it was apparent in the first week or two that this set-up was not a good fit for him. So, he ended up dropping that and is taking online AP Stats instead. Some view it as a "step down," but it seemed like the best option. I'm not worried about him not having a year of calc before college because math is just "in him." Especially if math isn't his main interest, it's probably not a huge issue if he doesn't have a big math focus senior year.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8668 replies77 threads Senior Member
    I like the idea of taking AP stats first and then progressing through the Calc based math classes. IMO it shows better progression of rigor with no drop down senior year.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 5943 replies108 threads Senior Member
    maybe I wasn’t clear. I don’t think there will be a gap if your son doesn’t have Calc as a senior. Even as a math major, I don’t think S19 is going back to Calc. His progression has been MV senior year, linear algebra this semester and now a class called Math Reasoning this semester. He didn’t have “a year away from Calc”. I think he could be done with Calc unless he chooses more Calc as electives within the major. He doesn’t need any more Calc than the MV he took in high school to be a math major.

    @momofsenior1 one can’t really take Stats “first” in high school and then progress through Calc. At our school, stats is taken instead of Calc after precalc for students who don’t want to take calculus. AP stats is taken as a second math class on top of the Calc sequence for most kids...except the ones who finish MV by junior year and then they usually take It senior year. The progression for most kids at the high school is geometry, algebra 2 trig, precalc, AP Calc (either AB or BC). All of that builds on each other. You wouldn’t interrupt that progression and take stats. For the super math kids, they’ve started this progression earlier in middle school and end up farther along in MV junior or senior year

    OP just have your son take AP Stats. There’s no downside.
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  • Darcy123Darcy123 413 replies6 threads Member
    Kids can take Stats before Calc at our school - I'm sure it's school dependent. My only advice is to not underestimate the difficulty of taking classes (whether it's MV or Calc bases Stats) at a local university. If you're close and schedules work out - count yourself lucky. I kind of like the AP Stats as a freshman idea and then proceeding from there if you're not very confident you'll have good options outside of your school.

    Although AP Stats as a senior isn't a terrible thing either - opens up the schedule a bit for all that app work. I think AOs understand that not all kids have the luxury out of out of school options.
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  • NCKrisNCKris 272 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited January 20
    Agree with Precalc-Calc BC-MV in order and then take AP Stats senior year.
    Does his school offer Calc AB separately from BC? Some kids at our school do this if Math is not their strong suit/interest.

    Also, he is still a Freshman and his aptitude and interests may change and he may choose to do more advanced Math or not!
    edited January 20
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  • racereerracereer 336 replies1 threads Member
    @misssassyinct Any idea what his college major interests may be? I know you said not math specifically but is he interested in engineering or other stem majors? He may need higher math than MV if that is the case. My S19 was on the exact same math path as he took pre Calc in 9th, Calc BC in 10th, MV and Linear Algebra in 11th, and Differential Equations in 12th. He is now at GT for engineering and the only math he had to retake was DiffEQ as it is a 4 credit class at GT and was only 3 credits in HS dual enrollment. My D23 is currently on the same math track bur she is not sure of her college interest either. We plan to keep her on that track and if her interests by her senior year don't seem to need the same higher math then we will consider something like Stats.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 1824 replies31 threads Senior Member
    Kids can also take AP Stats before Calc at our HS. Pre-Calc is the prerequisite. It’s a common topic for the advanced math kids - stats/Calc, Calc/stats or Calc/mv cyber at community college for jr/sr year.
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1556 replies35 threads Senior Member
    AP Stats doesn't rely on calculus so it can be taken either before or after the calculus sequence. However, it isn't designed for mathematically advanced students. I'm also not a fan of math courses (such as linear algebra, differential equations, discrete math, etc.) offered at local community colleges for advanced students. S/he would be better off taking such courses online If taking more rigorous versions of these courses in person isn't an option.
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  • Coun2316Coun2316 71 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Our HS advises taking stats no later than junior year because the material is covered on the ACT. But most kids double up AP stats with another math class.
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  • me29034me29034 1791 replies91 threads Senior Member
    edited January 21
    If he is going to major in a non-stem field, he may never have to take any math in college so the entire discussion of progression through advanced classes is not necessary. He will likely place out if his college’s math requirements by AP testing.
    edited January 21
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2622 replies5 threads Senior Member
    "Would it be okay to take AP Stats as a freshman, then complete the sequence of pre-calc, BC Calc and multivariable?"

    It would definitely be ok, however taking it as a senior is more typically done after Calc or MV. Even though some colleges may waive the math requirement for non-stem, many colleges will have core requirements where you'd have to take two or maybe three math classes even if you get a 5 on the BC. He could take calc again but could be a waste of courses since he seems pretty talented in math, without any interest in it.
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  • me29034me29034 1791 replies91 threads Senior Member
    "Even though some colleges may waive the math requirement for non-stem, many colleges will have core requirements where you'd have to take two or maybe three math classes even if you get a 5 on the BC.

    Wow. I’m glad my kids didn’t go to one of those schools. Two or 3 math courses beyond BC for non-stem? Well my econ major daughter took Calc 1 and she was done and my political science major son took one introductory stats course and he was done. One math course is all they had to take and a 5 on BC would have been more than enough to get them out if it.

    I had no idea there were schools with such large math requirements for non-stem majors. Just out of curiosity, what schools are these?

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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2622 replies5 threads Senior Member
    At Cornell Arts and Sciences, all majors, stem and non-stem have to take ten distribution requirements, two are math related:

    Statistics and Data Science
    Symbolic and Mathematical Reasoning

    Followed by this statement:

    "AP,IB and A-Level credits may not be used to meet distribution requirements."

    Berkeley has 7 distribution courses for their Arts and Science majors, called the 7-course breadth, while math is not on there, biological science is one and physical is another one. Again, from the website

    "Exams, such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams, cannot be used to fulfill breadth requirements."


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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80089 replies719 threads Senior Member
    edited January 22
    Re: #19

    The UCB L&S requirements for biological and physical science can be satisfied by courses for non majors that do not require calculus or higher math. There is also a quantitative reasoning requirement, but AP credit can fulfill that.

    For Cornell, the courses that can fulfill its MQR requirement include those that are not that advanced and which are varied in math-related content (CS, music, philosophy, statistics, etc).

    If you want a college with higher level math requirements for all majors, there are colleges like MIT, Caltech, Harvey Mudd.
    edited January 22
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