Help Required for High School Senior Courses

In summary, the individual is concerned about the graduation requirements for a physics major and whether or not dropping a class to take Trig/PreCal and Calculus AP next year will satisfy them. They worry that doing so might decrease their chances of being accepted into certain colleges.
  • #1
I've somewhat hit a very unwanted bump in the road, and I would like some outside assistance on the matter.

I'm currently in my junior year of high school, and I've only covered Algebra 1, Geometry, and I'm currently in Algebra 2. The average student at this school would've taken Algebra 1 in middle school, resulting to them being in Trig/PreCal (it's one class, not two separate) this year, enabling them for Calculus for senior year.

Considering my planned major is general physics, I really want to get into Calculus Advanced Placement next year. The problem is that Trig/PreCal is a prerequisite to the class.

After talking to my Math Department, they believe I can self-teach Trig/PreCal over the summer, and are willing to let me skip the class, but they worry that if I do so, I won't get the graduation requirement of four math courses throughout high school, by the state not counting Calculus because I didn't satisfy Trig/PreCal.

So here's a proposal that involves more of an effect on the university I chose more than anything.

I can take both Trig/PreCal and Calculus AP next year, alongside each other. This would eliminate the fear of one class not counting as a math course, and allowing me to satisfy the requirement. But to do this — I would need to drop another class, and I've came to the conclusion that the only plausible choice, is science (which hurt to suggest..).

I aspired to take AP Physics next year, but if I dropped the class, I could take Calculus, which I slightly find more important for my major. I greatly worry though that doing this might decrease my chances of being accepted into certain colleges. They recommend four years of science for a physics major, but three is the requirement.

Should I go through with this?
I've been relentlessly told mathematics is more important during high school and it should be a main focus to build a good stronghold for a major in Physics.

I would really appreciate any outside opinions on this matter, from anyone at all.

*Note: If it's any benefit to this dilemma, I plan on pursuing a Bachelors at University of Rhode Island in General Physics, then transfer to hopefully Ivy League and pursue a Masters and doctorate in Quantum Mechanics.
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  • #2
I would maybe see what a local community college's offerings are over the summer and if you can enroll for precalc and trig. I would imagine both are offered quite frequently looking at the old schedule for my local CCs summer courses. Honestly, the only useful things I learned in precalc were what an even and odd function were and the rules of logarithms. Other than that if your algebra is fine then precalc shouldn't be a problem. Trig is honestly easier than algebra, if your algebra is already good, because a lot of it is just memorization and a bit of practice. So talk to your school about enrolling in a community college over the summer if you can. Self taught is possible, but honestly it's easier with a curriculum behind it.
  • #3
I've attempted asking them if enrolling in a college course over the summer would be acceptable — they said that other students that have tried this have had trouble in Calculus because the college courses "moved too fast for them" (which I will try to argue against that statements application to myself, for I'm certain I can learn Trig/PreCal considering I know almost half the material already after I borrow a book from the Math Department).

I meet with my guidance counselor, math department head, and a staff member that seems to have a high knowledge in this area — particularly scheduling classes and such, yet I am unable to remember his position in school.
  • #4
Real talk, they're not too fast if you're already good at algebra and enjoy the material. It'll probably be 6-12 weeks, but it's really not bad. I took a stats course over the summer to substitute my AP Stats, and it was fine. If you're up for the task don't take no for an answer from your counselors, and get it done. Also if you have two A's in six week summer courses, the appearance of rigor on your applications just got a bit more intense :D
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  • #5

I understand your concern and frustration with this situation. It's important to have a strong foundation in mathematics for a major in physics, as it is a highly mathematical field. However, it's also important to have a well-rounded education, including a strong background in science.

My recommendation would be to try and find a way to take both Trig/PreCal and AP Calculus next year, without dropping a science class. This could potentially involve taking one of the classes online or during a summer session. It's also worth speaking with your guidance counselor or academic advisor to see if there are any alternative options available.

If taking both classes simultaneously is not possible, I would suggest prioritizing your science courses and taking AP Physics next year. While calculus is important, it can also be self-taught or taken in college. AP Physics, on the other hand, will provide you with a strong foundation in the principles and concepts of physics that will be crucial for your future studies.

Ultimately, it's important to find a balance between meeting graduation requirements and pursuing your academic interests and goals. You should also keep in mind that colleges and universities look at a variety of factors when evaluating applicants, not just the number of science courses taken in high school. Focus on excelling in the courses you do take, and make sure to highlight your passion for physics in your application materials.

Best of luck to you in your academic pursuits. Remember, there is no one right path to success, and it's important to find what works best for you. Don't hesitate to seek guidance from your teachers, guidance counselor, and other resources as you make this decision.

1. What courses should a high school senior take to prepare for college?

High school seniors should take a combination of challenging courses in core subjects such as English, math, science, and social studies. They should also consider taking advanced courses or electives in areas of interest, as well as courses that fulfill college admissions requirements.

2. How many credits do high school seniors need to graduate?

The number of credits required for high school graduation varies by state and school district. In general, most high schools require students to earn 22-24 credits to graduate. This typically includes credits in core subjects, electives, and possibly community service or other requirements.

3. Is it important for high school seniors to take AP or IB courses?

Taking AP or IB courses in high school can be beneficial for students, as these courses offer more challenging coursework and can earn college credit. However, it is not necessary for all students to take these courses. Seniors should consider their own abilities and goals when deciding whether to take AP or IB courses.

4. Can high school seniors take courses at a local college?

Many high schools offer dual enrollment programs that allow students to take courses at a local college or university. This can be a great opportunity for high school seniors to earn college credit and get a taste of college coursework. However, students should be aware of any requirements or restrictions for these programs, and should carefully consider their own readiness for college-level coursework.

5. What resources are available to help high school seniors with their courses?

High school seniors can find help and support from a variety of resources, including teachers, counselors, tutors, and online resources. Students should also make use of study groups, peer tutoring, and other study tools to help them succeed in their courses. It is important for seniors to seek help when needed and take advantage of all available resources to prepare for their courses.

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