I’m a current junior in high school, and I already took AP Calculus BC with a 5. Should I take Multivariable Calculus or Linear Algebra if I don’t plan on going into engineering, mathematics, or a “hard” science like chemistry or physics? Right now, I’m probably planning on majoring in economics, psychology, or public policy. Is it worth my time?
You should not ** not** take math for 2 years.
Hi @redLamps !
I’m also a high school junior who was accelerated in mathematics. I just finished Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Multivariable Calculus and (College) Statistics this past year.
I can’t comment on how these specific courses will look to colleges (I would presume they seem pretty impressive to adcoms), but I do know that selective institutions prefer applicants that have taken 4 years of mathematics.
Regarding the subject matter of the courses, I would say that (especially if you go into econ) they will be relevant. For example, many of the linear models for systems of equations that we studied in linear algebra have important applications to economics. Multivariable calculus probably won’t be as useful, but is definitely helpful to have under your belt for studying certain economic models (e. g. Cobb-Douglass production func).
Given that you scored a 5 on the AP Calc BC test (and, extrapolating from that, probably did fairly well in the class itself), linear algebra and ESPECIALLY multivariable calc won’t be very difficult for you (trust me, I know ).
Best of luck with your decision!
For economics, it could be a good idea if you may want to go on to PhD study in economics, work in a more quantitative area of finance or some such, or just want to keep those options open.
Psychology, public policy, or other social science majors would not generally require additional math, but you may want to take a calculus-based statistics course if available, since a strong understanding of statistics is good to have. Obviously, if you want to go more in-depth into statistics or data science along with a social science major, taking the additional math courses could be helpful for more advanced statistics courses.
There are colleges that want to see a math or math-based course (e.g. physics or computer science) in your senior year.
I’m taking AP Statistics this year!
Do you find the topics interesting? Do you want to learn them? What are your alternatives?
Economics, and several other non-hard-sciences incorporate advanced math in college coursework.
Linear Algebra provides a look at a somewhat different area of math, rather than extending calculus into multiple dimensions. If you can take LA without MVC (often an enforced pre-requisite, but not really needed), I’d suggest that. Unless there is a quality alternative.
Form a purely college admissions standpoint, an advanced math course would look better than a generic elective. Unless you other advanced/AP options. Not that that would drive the decision, but something to consider. But getting through BC is already sufficient anywhere.