Quick HS senior class select quest--for comp sci mj?

<p>My son wants to major in comp sci in college. He's also picking his senior year classes. He's asking me for advice (!) but I just don't know (Eng major here..).</p>

<p>He's taken honors pre-calc in 10th grade (but didn't study, so got some very low grades). He's now on the studying-as-much-as-necessary train & getting As. He's thinking of taking one or two honors/ap courses next year (instead of the 5 he took 9th/10th grade). </p>

<p>He wants to take AP English (feels it will be good training all around to have higher level writing skills). Decided to pass on AP History but is thinking of NOT taking AP Calculus (rather, 'regular' calc). I was going to say: fine, whatever you want (that's what we did this year--he ended up w/2 honors & did well). </p>

<p>But wondering --- for a computer sci major -- will colleges look more favorably on taking a math/science area honors course? Also--son's curriculm & grades are doing double duty -- not just to 'stay the course' as most seniors are, but to prove 'he can do it' & make up for lackluster (no studying) 9th & 10th grade years.</p>

<p>Sorry for the long post. Any thoughts, appreciated!</p>

<p>I just got some great advice from a comp sci dad here (thanks!) via pm. Looks like son should try to take AP Calc.</p>

<p>I agree, your son's math grade is probably the most important thing for a future comp sci major.</p>

<p>And if he has other options for electives, AP Statistics would be a good thing as well.</p>

<p>I just reread your first post. Pre-calc in 10th grade? What did he take in 11th grade that he is just now taking Calc. senior year?</p>

<p>Thanks, mathmom. I'll pass that on to son. This is the kind of advice I need to hear (& don't have the background to provide....comp sci seems 'math-y' to me, but I didn't know for sure!).</p>

<p>mommusic--son took probability & statistics this year. He really likes it. However, since he never studied a single minute for any test/quiz nor did any homework (& got all As) -- it seems like a very easy course.</p>

<p>I thought, though, after really pressuring him for 2 years to keep up his 5 honors courses a year load (in retrospect--mistake) that I'd let him make the calls this past (junior) year [hence the prob stat]. I'll definitely pass on the info re: the importance of calc for comp sci majors.</p>

<p>He's lobbying for taking 'non AP' (regular) calculus...not sure how much of a negative this would be, though.... If AP calc (w/a really good grade) is super important, maybe he could bag the AP English?</p>

<p>I'd go with the better teacher, personally. If he's wise he'll retake calculus in college anyway (JMO).</p>

<p>Thanks, Treetop. I figured he'd retake in college, too (to get a greater, foundational, college-level understanding).</p>

<p>It's more that -- w/lower 9th/10th grades -- I think of his classes/grades in junior/senior years as much more important than might be for some other kids. They need to show he can 'walk the walk' which he indicated was possible via his standardized test scores...</p>

<p>Jolynne - English and history will definitely help your son ONCE HE'S ESTABLISHED in his career. But I have to agree with the other posters who say AP Calc is probably the best thing he can do for himself. If he can take Statistics also, so much the better.</p>

<p>PS, When a VP of Information Services asks "If network traffic doubles how much longer will response times be during peak usage times?" I'm afraid "To be or not to be; that is the question." is an inadequate answer.</p>

<p>On the one hand, Calc. is very important. On the other hand, lots of Engineering or CS majors take it as freshmen in college. And if your son is really attracted to English, let him take that and be happy. It will get him out of freshman English in college.</p>

<p>But to illustrate the importance of math versus CS, my H's company often prefers to hire math majors rather than CS majors. They figure they can teach a mathematician the computer language or other skill he/she needs in the planning field, but it's harder to teach a computer science major to think critically (like a mathematician) if he/she doesn't have the aptitude.</p>

<p>Thanks, New Hope and mommusic. Those are really helpful insights.</p>

<p>I shared what I've learned here (& from other helpful messages) w/son & he's not necessarily opposed to re-taking precalc at community college so he'd be ready to go for AP calc in the fall (that's saying a lot--he didn't want to 'do academic' this summer at all...!).</p>

<p>He's very interested in computer programming and seems interested in what it takes to pursue that.</p>

<p>Thanks again.</p>

<p>I agree with whoever said 'go with the better teacher'. </p>

<p>On the other hand, I am really curious what the difference is between regular Calc and AP Calc? Do/can regular Calc students take one of the Calc AP exams? </p>

<p>Taking an AP exam will be helpful if he does not want to retake it in college. I strongly oppose the general advice to retake Calc in college - some students do certainly benefit from it but for many others (especially students with an aptitude for math) it is just a waste of time. I personally enjoy the flexibility that placing out of some intro courses has given me, and I would have absolutely hated to sit through a course whose material I was already familiar with. I even suspect that Calc at my high school was taught more in-depth than it is at my college (judging from the Calc lectures I have been attending for my tutoring job).</p>

<p>I can't imagine taking calculus over in college if I did well on the AP exam. Comp sci majors often don't take more calculus than that covered by the BC exam. They go on to do discrete math. (Whatever that is!)</p>

<p>Discrete math includes number theory (all kinds of monkeying around with GCDs, LCMs, algorithms for figuring them out, prime numbers, modulus, and all kinds of other stuff), algorithm theory, computation theory (these two are very important for CS majors), combinatorics, set theory, and so forth. It's actually really cool stuff.</p>

<p>Calculus may not be as necessary for the actual computer science theory as for the applications - modeling many natural processes (a large topic in computer science) requires calculus (DiffEq and so forth).</p>

<p>Graph theory is also very important for CS majors, as the algorithms and results in the subject are often widely applicable in varied CS disciplines. It's also a very fun area of math.</p>

<p>This is all so great; thanks! This is the kind of math info I can share w/son when he says (based on one HS course in computer programming) that "computer programming is not about math; it's logic." </p>

<p>Just thinking -- would it be accurate to say, that comp sci is not all math? Son has said (when I used to encourage him to go to math camps because of his aptitude for it...) that he really doesn't like it 'all that much' or want to do math all day long.</p>

<p>I read your question before I saw 1of42s post, which phrased all that better than I could! Two of my sons (one CS major and one CS/Math major) have taken or are taking the "cool" courses described, about which I know NOTHING. :) </p>

<p>As I understand it, it's logic, or math without numbers, which is probably the intersection of higher CS and higher math.</p>

<p>" As I understand it, it's logic, or math without numbers, which is probably the intersection of higher CS and higher math."</p>

<p>Thanks mommusic. So...(just to make sure I understand) --- you'd basically need to get to/through some of the higher math for a foundational understanding of key concepts/issues in comp sci, but wouldn't necessarily be 'working with math' all day long as a programmer?</p>

<p>I suggest he take AP calc if at all possible. He'll be taking plenty of math in his CS major and AP calc should better prepare him and also put him on a more even keel with the other CS students, most of whom have probably taken AP calc. It'll also give your S more of a feel of whether he 'really' wants to head down a math-heavy major or not.</p>

<p>However, if at all possible, it would be nice to take AP English as well. Contrary to popular belief he'll need to be able to write well on essays and other work even as a CS major. At least at my Ds' schools, they take plenty of humanities courses as well. Once he enters his career excellent written skills will be necessary and can help carry him further than engineers who don't have them. </p>

<p>He won't use math all the time when programming but he certainly will at times while in his major and may as well once he gets into industry. My D is taking an upper division graphics course right now that uses a lot of math. I think your S is interested in gaming. Depending on the tools being used a lot of math can be required for the graphics involved in gaming.</p>