Math requirements…can I still get into a top school?

I’ve been researching Ivy League schools and really want to get into one, although I fear that I am behind in my mathematics. I am a rising sophomore. Here’s my math plan.
9th: Algebra I
10th: Geometry Honors
11th: Algebra II/Trig Honors
12th: PreCalc Honors

I won’t be able to take Calculus in high school. Does that make me a less competitive applicant for top and Ivy League schools?

Very few universities in the US require or recommend calculus in high school:

Not taking calculus in high school is probably a bigger issue generally for someone who completes precalculus in 11th grade and chooses not to take an available calculus course in 12th grade than it is for someone whose middle school math placement allows him/her only to reach precalculus in 12th grade.

As one who will enter 10th grade, if you are aiming for a “calculus in high school required” university, it may be possible to double up geometry and algebra 2, but perhaps less likely if trigonometry is included in algebra 2 (rather than precalculus).

Not necessarily. Every single Ivy League college offers Calc 1. However, most freshman will have had calc in HS. As @ucbalumnus suggests, you could look to double up, or take a course over the summer. But not having calculus will not lead to an immediate rejection from an Ivy League school, although it would be problematic for Caltech, as an example.

Also, even for top colleges, if you are planning a STEM-major, not having calc may require more courses for the degree or lessen the number of elective you can take.

I would double up on geometry and algebra 2! Each doesn’t really require the other.

My nephew thought he would be behind as a cs major at Brown since he only took through AP Calculus AB. He was pleasantly surprised to find that some of the friends in his major had not had calculus, some ended with AB like him, BC and some higher. In the end it made no difference for summer internships and job offers.

Really will depend on your major. If you are going into STEM fields then I would say YES. There are just so many applicants and online programs that many IVY applicants will have Calc in HS and even more advanced classes. But if you are going to be a French major or a history major, I don’t think it will affect you assuming you have outstanding classes in those areas.

Echoing the ‘it depends on the major’ comments. A number of engineering programs are strongly recommending AP Calc BC in high school, explicitly stating AP Calc AB will not cut it. D19 and I heard this in information sessions at both Wash U and Lehigh in recent months.

Thank you to all that replied! To answer your major questions, I want to major in Animal Sciences to become a vet in the future.

Could it also be possible to double up on Algebra 2/Trig and Precalc? It’s too late for me to double up on Geometry and Algebra 2 cause I have no more room on my schedule

@leprechaun103 Have you looked at which schools have your intended major? Check into that and the specific math requirements, but I think you are probably ok with just going thru pre-calc for animal sciences/pre-vet.

If you were to double up you would probably need to eliminate a different core class (science, SS, english, FL), which would weaken your application relatively more than having 4 years of math thru pre-calc. You could do summer school, but generally speaking summer is the best time to strengthen ECs and participate in animal science/vet type of activities.

Thats really good advice. Thank you sm!

I checked the freshman requirements for Cornell Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, my dream school, and it says it only requires 4 years of math (including precalc) for Animal Science majors. I should be fine then right (as far as math requirements go)?

That would seem to work for CALS. Continue to focus on doing well in school and find some animal science related ECs that you love. It’s good to have goals, but also continue to expand your college list beyond the most selective. Good luck!

Thank you!

My son is pre-vet and an animal science major. He went through calculus but really didn’t need to. In college all he has to take is college algebra. Some vet schools also require statistics (in college). Even the physics that he has to take is not calculus based. I wouldn’t worry. Just focus on getting as high a GPA as possible, high test scores, and lots of animal related ECs if Cornell is your school of preference. Just remember to get into vet school the key is high GPA. Go where you can get the highest GPA for the least cost. Vet school is crazy expensive and vets don’t make much compared to what the education costs.

@momocarly thank you! I’ve heard many things about extracurriculars and how colleges like to see that you are passionate about 1 or 2 things rather than being well-rounded…It can be seen from my extracurriculars that I am very involved in the music programs at my school as well as the Student Council. Will it matter that I am less involved with animal related activities, even though I am involved in other activities?


It’s not a question of being well-rounded vs pointy; it’s quality is more important that quantity.

So if you have a lot of things that you are passionate about and spend lots of time on them you’re still ok?

“OK” is a relative term. As long as your application is complete, it will not be thrown in the trash. On the flip side, you might have an application that looks ideal on paper, and still get rejected. Don’t obsess about the minutiae.

Ok thank you for the advice!