Daily Challenge classes or tutor?

Hi all,

I’ve been trying to give my kids the best possible education. They’ve been getting into competition/extracurricular math recently because I’ve seen that doing extracurricular work is good for college. Had mine take a Daily Challenge class recently and kids enjoyed it. Said teachers were energetic and made class fun, and they loved the concepts they learned. They say 10/10. However, it’s $400 for 20 classes (1 hr per class) and there’s a tutor in my neighborhood who will tutor for ) 15/hr. Not sure if it’s better to switch to the tutor or stay with Daily Challenge. Daily Challenge is made by Professor Po-Shen Loh, and he might be more credible in regards to competition and extracurricular math? Not sure if I should switch to save $5/hr. If anyone here has taken a Daily Challenge class, can you let me know what I should do? Kids enjoyed the class thoroughly and want me to stay with DC class haha. Don’t know if I should switch, so which one will help my kids more with competition math? I want this to be good for their college applications. To specify , I’ve got a middle schooler and one barely beginning 5th grade. All help is appreciated. Thanks.

First off - it’s way way way too early to be worried about what will look good for college admission.

Your kids need to be exploring lots of different things at their age and having fun.

There is no need to be spending money on tutors or math classes. Put that extra $ in a 529.

See if the middle school has a math club, quiz team, or science Olympiad if they are truly interested in math.

I’d encourage you to read MIT’s applying sideways blog. It’s older but still excellent advice.


I would encourage them to read. If they enjoy reading they’ll go a long way in enjoying learning. Get a library card. Teach them life skills and independent thinking. Take them to plays, concerts, and most of all allow them to be kids. School will be there and hopefully will be something they always enjoy.


Nothing they do in 5th grade or middle school matters at all for college so please please please don’t put that on them. Let them be kids. Colleges will not know or care about this. Colleges care about what happens during high school only.


Why do they need either?


If your kids actually enjoy the DC class, then thats fine. Let them do it.

Math is not the only way to prepare for college.

If they enjoy these classes and you can afford them that is fine – but IMO it is not necessary. Almost no activities they do before HS (short of winning an Olympic gold, winning the national spelling bee, becoming a famous actor or something of that magnitude) will move the needle in terms of college admissions. Math competitions are an extra-curricular activity. Any one of thousands of extra-curricular activities would be appreciated by college admissions officers. These extra-curricular activities have a huge range (from math competition teams, debate teams etc. to sports, music, community service, volunteering in the community, working part-time to name but a few). When your kids hit HS I’d encourage them to find activities that THEY find interesting and where they can make meaningful contributions.


Just to clarify, my kids actually love the DC class :smile: We’ve actually tried a bunch of things in the past to see what they like and they’re pretty happy doing math. For college I wanted them to have one main hobby/extracurricular and I think this could be it. It’s more of a cost concern for me. The local tutor is cheaper than a DC course. I want to know if anyone has taken a DC course and if so do they recommend taking another one? My kids really liked it but it is also kinda pricey. Not sure which option will lead to the best outcome in the future.

Best outcome for what? If it’s for college admission, you are missing what everyone is saying. Best outcome should be your kids happiness and self exploration, which doesn’t need to be a pricey math class or a tutor.


Since your kids are showing an early love of math, I’m going to call some posters who may have suggestions of more affordable math-related activities.

@hebegebe @neela1

I agree with others encouraging you to allow your kids to explore various activities without college applications factoring into the equation. There is nothing wrong with having that in the back of your mind but at this point let your kids guide you and just keep supporting them. :hugs:

I’ll defer to @hebegebe . My son did not like competition math. He did a couple of years of CTY math around 5th grade, but that was subsequently discontinued. He mostly learned Math in an unstructured manner because he was interested. I don’t think I can contribute much to this conversation.

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I agree with the first part, in that it is too early to worry about what will look good for colleges. But regarding the second part, spending money on math should be considered no different than spending money on art or athletics. If that’s an activity that your kids enjoy, then its fine to spend money on that.

If your child does well with online instruction, then the gold standard is Art of Problem Solving. They are so good that almost all of the top math students in the USA, and much of the world, use their instruction. I just took a quick look at their current costs, and it is about $20 per hour as well ($31 per week for 90 minutes). I do of course know who Po-Shen Loh is, and he certainly has the background to teach at the highest levels, but I don’t know anyone who has used his classes.

But before going deeper I want to provide a reality check regarding competition math.

It’s true that doing very well on competition math can help with college admissions. You probably know about USAMO, which is an award given to roughly the top 300 competition math students each year. It used to be that getting that award resulted in about an 80% chance of getting into a HYPSM (most often MIT). But recent anecdotal data suggests that the percentage has dropped significantly, down to about 40%. This is certainly better than the low single digit percentage admit rate otherwise, but it’s no longer a sure thing. About the only sure thing these days seems to be getting selected for the USA IMO team, of which there are six students each year. Almost every one of those is attending MIT.

The reality is that most children will never achieve USAMO even if they are really good at math, in the same way that most children really good at basketball will never play in the NBA. The kids who do make USAMO typically show early signs of extraordinary math achievement. Some learn algebra on their own by 1st grade, others may come up with their own geometric proofs long before being taught geometry. And even then, these kids may require 15+ hours per week of training to get to USAMO.

I am not attempting to discourage a child’s love of math or math instruction for enjoyment’s sake. But do it because your child loves math, not because you are hoping it will impact college decisions.


Congratulations to your kids on their enthusiasms on math. You said that you have “seen that doing extracurricular work is good for college.”, I take it as a general way of speaking, and not that your goal for them is MIT or bust. Nurturing and guidance from parents are important to help develop their children’s interest or talent, be it in competition math or synchronized ice skating. I use brilliant.org to sustain my interest in math; its format seems to be very similar to that used by daily challenge, and it is less costly at a yearly fee of $100.

I’ve tried those before I tried Daily Challenge and while the cost is roughly the same my kids did not actually like that class.

They heard about the Art of Problem Solving from their school math club so we tried an Algebra class there but they did not like the class because it was just all text and no interaction. So they hated that class so we did not push them towards taking more classes.

Then on Pi Day this year their school math club was holding a watch party for the Pi Day livesolve Daily Challenge did and they loved it. They really liked the livesolve so after visiting their website they asked to try one of their classes and they really enjoyed it. I do think that if they enjoy it they should continue pursuing it but I’m also worried on terms of college how that will work out.

I’ve tried a lot of learning websites before like IXL, Khan Academy, etc but what I’ve found out is that mine do not learn well without interaction. 2020 was a really hard year for us, lol. Mine play some games on the Art of Problem Solving every now and then but they absolutely refuse to take one of the AoPS online classes again, so at this moment if I’m going to buy a class it’ll have to be only Daily Challenge. They liked Khan Academy and IXL when they were little but it doesn’t do much now. Haven’t checked out Brilliant yet but I’ll look into it. Thanks.

Hi Linda! I actually have similar circumstances as you and I hope I can help =)

I have a 7th grade daughter who is part of her school Math club. She got into her school team last year for MathCounts and did not make MathCounts state. She also enjoys math and we’ve taken 2 AoPS classes before calling it quits. We took a self paced PreAlgebra at first and then an live instruction PreAlgebra and it did not stick with her. My daughter also loves interaction so the AoPS classes were not a good fit.

We actually started taking Daily Challenge classes last December and still continue to do so. She made MathCounts State this year =) and also made it into the DHR on AMC 8 so we were very happy for her

As for the price, I’d say that the Daily Challenge classes are worth it, and you can ask for a free consulting on their website which is very helpful. Their updated website is also very cool haha (it is at live. poshenloh. com I believe) but yes I’d say the price is worth it at least for me it was , it made my daughter very happy =)

As for college right now I would say don’t sweat it. My daughter loves math so we let her pursue that, but she also loves tennis so we let her have fun in both. Hope this helped!


Also forgot to include this here but they do have discounts every so often and I just checked their website. They are giving a $20 discount and they also have some packages that for discounts so maybe utilize those if you are concerned about the price? I don’t really know your financial situation so if it is too much that decision is ultimately up to you.

Given that, at this stage, the Daily Challenge is the right set of classes for your children.


Kids tend to like activities where there are other kids participating. A tutor isn’t going to give them the same experience as the Daily Challenge classes. I’d stick with the Daily Challenge.

Thanks for everyone’s feedback. I will sign them up for one of the August classes!