math prep for ap calc...cake course okay?

<p>Just wondered if I could ask the math folks....</p>

<p>Son is retaking precalc at our state college U this summer (4 week course) to prepare for honors AP calc in the fall. Just wondering if it will be sufficient & if anyone had any thoughts? </p>

<p>Son took honors pre-calc in 10th grade and (during a period of rebellion) decided not to work (despite years of all As in honors math, prior). </p>

<p>Now he's on the wagon, motivated and planning to major in comp sci (he'll be a HS senior). He needs AP Calc, so to prepare, son signed up for an (expensive!) college-level precalc course at our state U (his idea). It's 4 weeks; son just got the book. Says it's mainly Algebra II and doesn't cover many, many of the things he remembers from pre-calc (vectors, etc.). I (helicopter parent, apparently) called the college prof & asked him if this would adequately prepare him for calc. He says yes, it's the college cal prerequisite. Son, however says, "this is a joke, I did this in Algebra II in 8th/9th grade."</p>

<p>Wondered---would an Alg II focused pre-calc course prepare a student adequately for an AP Calc class? And, if it seems as if not, would there be any online programs anyone knows about that are good & son could supplement with? </p>

<p>Sorry for the long post; thanks for any thoughts!</p>

<p>PS This state college was going to be a 'safety' (financial and admission-wise) for son. The elementary level of this course (plus professor's assurance: "they don't need to know vectors in HS...that's too deep") is making me a little nervous. </p>

<p>Plus, at the bookstore, the (helpful) student at check-out advised us son could sell book back at full price if he just xeroxed a few relevant pages the prof specified because, "in college, you really don't need to do homework..."</p>


<p>pre-calc is basically algebra II review, plus trig if that wasn't covered previously and slightly more in depth. only simple vectors are used in AP calc. so yeah, your son should be fine for AP calc next year.</p>

<p>"in college, you really don't need to do homework..."
Spoken like a true Business UG. "Hey Buddy, that doesn't work in Calculus I, II, and III."</p>

<p>[OK, rant over.]</p>

<p>Honestly Jolynne, I don't think your S needs a prep class for AP Calc. He's obviously beyond the material the summer course Prof intends to teach. And despite his "lack of work" in last year's Pre-calc course he clearly learned some things there. Would he consider spending some time this summer previewing the first few chapters of the AP Calc book?</p>


<p>To get a five on AP Calc, it's really crucial you know your trig... maybe instead of the class, he can just review trig identities etc.</p>

<p>He might give these a try along with a textbook:</p>

<p>MA</a> 107 Lectures</p>

<p>I don't like the short and intense courses that try to cover a lot of material as they usually heave stuff overboard. The regular 14-week semester allows students far more time to absorb the material learned. Some precalc course also cover limits, sequences, induction and other topics that may have to be jettisoned in a short course.</p>

<p>AP Calc generally isn't a prerequisite to a CS program. But I think that it makes the first year easier as preknowledge of Calc I and II make freshmen physics a lot easier.</p>

<p>If it really is mainly focused on algebra 2, I wouldn't take it. The precalc he needs to know revolves around functions, trigonometry, things like that.</p>

<p>I'd say he's ready for the course if he's already taken precalc. Functions aren't hard to pick up if you've learned them before and the level of trig on the AP test isn't that high either (I wouldn't know about the tests in class though).</p>

<p>Thanks for all that input. Really appreciate it.</p>

<p>Sad to say, we signed up for the course already (& paid..ouch, $950). The first class met today (son didn't attend for reason that had nothing to do w/him) so the burser said the most he could be refunded would be 50% (so we'd be out $475 if didn't go). </p>

<p>Of course I should have run this decision by the CC experts, first! In trying to look at the positive, though: son himself admitted that he'd have to study a lot this summer to be ready for AP Calc (HS didn't even want him to register because of low grade in precalc). So this will provide a structured environment to review material that he had years ago & might have forgotten.</p>

<p>Also--from what I've heard from a few comp sci professionals....the grade in HS precalc is important to college admission if you list comp sci as your major (good grade shows you can handle the work).</p>

<p>So, the college course could have value as a reportable grade to offset the very bad (D) grade in 10th grade, even though it's not for credit or applicable to HS gpa.</p>

<p>Son was hep to quit the course after he saw the elementary level book, but I'll pass on to him the tips here about what you need to know for a good grade in calc, and maybe he can skim the calculus textbook before school starts. And try to explain that we can't lose $450 just because it wasn't the best decision...! </p>

<p>Again, very much appreciate the insights (& links!).</p>

<p>The first section of any calc book is a review of the "pre-calc" stuff that you'll need to know...basically algebra--including graphing of functions, manipulating trig identities. I would have saved money and just gone through that first chapter.</p>

<p>The vector stuff needed is pretty basic and can be learned as you go or reviewed quickly with a pre-calc book from school. You won't need the vector stuff for a while in AP Calc.</p>

<p>Thanks, ellenmenope. Maybe this wa $950 we didn't need to spend (could have reviewed the relevant pre-calc sections) but guess both son & I felt that his 10th grade math year was so unproductive (never did a speck of was the hardest course at his HS many teachers said) that failure to re-learn in some sort of organized setting could leave a hole in his math knowledge.</p>

<p>Good to know he can, w/some self-teaching, pick up any issues (vectors, etc.) not covered by this course.</p>

<p>Again, appreciate all the input!</p>

<p>I do not believe that pre-calc is needed. Anybody with any kind of basic understanding of algebra can successfully take calc.<br>
Anyway, calc. will be just a general education part in computer science major. It is not like engineering where deep understanding of calc is absolute necessaty for completion of engineering curriculum.</p>

<p>Thanks for the input, MiamiDAP. The thing--at some of the schools son likes, comp sci is part of the engineering dept (although son has no interest in engineering) so he'd have to take at least 2 or so intro engineering courses. So, he should (I'd imagine?) have a solid precalc background.</p>

<p>Also, just generally, son has not been as on his 'math game' as he had in prior years (even apart from the bad precalc effort in 10th). He previously got perfect PSAT, SSAT scores (9th grade) in math & won math awards in middle school (top math kid among 400 or so). In the past few years, he took super easy (for him) prob. stat. course (A) but ended up w/mediocre math SAT scores (for him -- 710).</p>

<p>So sort of hoping that an intense course might get him back in the groove of handling challenging work (everyone at HS warns how hard AP Calc is)</p>

<p>Precalc and calc are not just general education classes unless you're talking about really easy programs (and they are out there). At my son's school, CS majors take:</p>

<p>Calc, Physics and Computing in their first year. The Computing professor assumes that you're taking calc and is free to give assignments based on what you should know.</p>

<p>A student needs a decent background in precalc and calc to study discrete structures I and II. And a calc background is required for mathematical statistics where there are multiple integration proofs. A good precalc and calc background is useful for understanding algorithm runtime. Linear algebra is frequently a required course for studying graphics. Number theory and abstract algebra are useful for studying security.</p>

<p>^ I have been in IS for the past 30 years as a Programmer/Analyst, I never used any math at all, nor I have known any position at 9 places of my employment in IS that used math in IS. I learned something new today!</p>

<p>Still, according to what has been posted in regard to math ability of your, Jolynne, S., he should be able to handle calc., if he puts his mind into it. I strongly believe that what he is doing now is overly sufficient. My D. commented at her time that she did not thing that pre-calc was necessary, and AP Calc was easy. She never cared too much about math but she never needed a lot of time to complete math homework (just to give you a comparison perspective). Her math ACT was 34.</p>

<p>I worked in IS for the first 7 or so years of my career and really didn't need much more than algebra. Then I switched over to software engineering and the discussion in meetings was frequently over my head. I had a much better understanding of business and application issues but was pretty weak in the math and algorithms area.</p>

<p>I found out what I was missing by getting an MSCS degree.</p>

<p>It can be quite interesting to read up on programs of study for various degrees as you then learn what subjects others had to study to get their degree. There was a post on one of the kids' board saying that you really don't need a college degree to do social work. Of course I challenged on that knowing a little about what they do.</p>

<p>Great info, thanks for all that input! I'm passing on to son the areas of math that would be used in comp sci, as well as the other thoughts. </p>

<p>Update: had his first class today. Said he knew all the answers posed by the prof but seemed happy and upbeat after class. Said: "It's good to have something to do each day." (!) Class is only 6 (college) kids & him. Hopefully will be positive experience.</p>

<p>Thanks again for all the thoughts.</p>