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Question about mathematics and ivy league schools

  1. Sep 13, 2011 #1
    Im in the 8th grade taking algebra, im going to take Geometry-Trig in 9th, algebra II is 10th, HOPEFULLY accelerated calculus in 11th, but if not, ill take advanced mathematics. and then somesort of advanced calculus if i do accelerated or just plain calculus I if I go the normal advanced mathmatics way for 12th. My question is this: Is it a huge advantage/disadvantage to skip a year in mathematics when applying for an ivy league or a very prestigious university? (For example if I was taking geometry this year would it make much of a difference) or do they (admissions committies at colleges) look more at the pure SAT scores.

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 13, 2011 #2
    It is always good to get your classes done but you wont be skipping a year of math you will be skipping only one class.
  4. Sep 13, 2011 #3


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    It is very common for students heading to good colleges to be a year ahead in math and take calculus in high school. The ivies will expect that of good applicants, so no, it won't help you stand out. Many applicants are 2-3 years ahead in math, and even that doesn't make you stand out much for a top school. They're looking for a lot more.
  5. Sep 13, 2011 #4
    Well taking calculus isnt a problem. Thanks for the feedback though
  6. Sep 13, 2011 #5
    You should rather care about mastering the material than ending up in an ivy league school. There are many good schools out there and as long as you've mastered the material, you should end up in one.

    I never really understood the ambition of ending up in an ivy league school. Education is as great at other places. It's only for grad school that the reputation of a school matters.

    Really, just care about enjoying the material and mastering it. Don't worry to much about reputation and ranking. It's silly anyway.
  7. Sep 13, 2011 #6
    True but an ivy league school (not JUST an ivy league school, but for an exaple ill use ivy league) would help me master the material faster
  8. Sep 13, 2011 #7
    This is simply untrue. How fast you master the material depends on you!!

    There are many fine school out there which are as good as ivy league schools, or even better. There is no qualitative difference between ivy league and other schools.
  9. Sep 13, 2011 #8
    @ eri: What do you mean by "you need a lot more"
    do you mean you need a lot more than the math im planning to take, or you need a lot more as in things that make you stand out
  10. Sep 13, 2011 #9
    @ micromass

    what about the professors?
  11. Sep 13, 2011 #10
    Two things:

    1) Being good in your field does not mean that you're a good professor. Ive league professors are very good. But that doesn't mean that they're good at teaching.

    2) There are many find professors out there and not all of them are professing in an Ivy League school. Just choose a good school, and you'll be alright.
  12. Sep 13, 2011 #11
    Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it
  13. Sep 13, 2011 #12


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    Gold Member

    What professors? Professors don't teach a majority of classes for undergraduates, especially at the better schools. Plus there's absolutely no correlation between being a big name and being good at teaching. Big name schools don't hire professors because they can teach, they hire them because of the research they do and most professors would much rather spend time researching than learning how to teach. In fact, if anything, the smaller/less-well-known the school is, the better the education you can receive is.
  14. Sep 16, 2011 #13
    Having experienced a very small school, I would say there is merit to what you've said, but I don't think it's true to that extreme. I think there are good teachers at all levels, you just need to find them.
  15. Oct 31, 2011 #14


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    it makes no sense to try to get into a program you will not thrive in. here is a description of a math class taken by freshmen at Harvard that few people in the country could pass:


    The only person I personally knew recently for whom this class was appropriate out of high school, was a brilliant son of a top mathematician, who took graduate math classes while in high school and who had placed highly in the collegiate putnam exam also as a high school student.

    no matter how smart you are or hard working, it is very unlikely you are in a position to acquire the background for this course.

    it is bordering on lunacy to aspire to get into a program that will not suit you just because it is famous and hard. Even the average excellent student will not learn more from such a class, quite the opposite, and many will be permanently discouraged from the subject.

    the point is to shoot for the program that is appropriate for you, not just for the hardest program in the world. if it turns out this is appropriate for you that will become clear at some point. Since you have not even completed high school algebra yet, it is simply too early to decide this in your case.

    try to enjoy yourself, and learn something, not obsess over what college you will go to 5 years from now.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2011
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