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Help Required for High School Senior Courses

  1. Dec 19, 2014 #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 highschool, 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 eachother. 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.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2014 #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.
  4. Dec 19, 2014 #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.
  5. Dec 19, 2014 #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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