Taking College Classes in High School

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Taking college-level math in high school

Nov 2011

Hi. I'm looking for advice from parents of children who have taken college-level math in high school. Would you be willing to share your experiences with me? Please contact me off list. Thank you in advance. J.

If your child is ready for advanced courses have them take the classes through UC Berkeley, not community college or online because the content is not as advanced as high school honors math. The other alternative, which I think is better for most gifted students, is to join a math team/math circle where you get to do interesting problem solving. With a good leader the mathematics the students engage in takes them through some advanced topics like number theory, proof, combinatorics, and topology. If your student is likely to be a math/physics major in college it is much better to engage in deep mathematics, than have classes on a transcript. If your student is at BHS there is a math team that has done very well in competitions. If K exists, then?


8th grader taking math at Vista

May 2002


My son and his friend, entering Albany High School, are planning/hoping to take intermediate algebra in summer school, after taking algebra I this year. It meets 4 nights per week, and I've told him to expect about 3 hours homework per day. Has anyone had kids who have (1) done intermediate algebra at Vista after high school algebra 1, and (2) done a summer course of this type? Both kids are bright, good in math, like it fast-paced, and enjoy it. They like the idea of doing it at night and still having some day time to play, we parents like the idea of them being busy, engaged, and out in the world on their own in a safe way, but I'm just a little worried that the jump from high school to college math will be much greater than we expect, and the pace will be more than they're up to. Finally (3) what type of students are they likely to find in a summer night course? Dana

I don't know what Albany does; however, BHS requires students who take math courses at Vista (and elsewhere) to pass our final exams before we permit them to proceed to the next course. Community College courses that parallel high school courses are designed for a student population that did not take these courses in high school. They also cover the material in half the time that the parallel high school class has to cover the subject matter. As a consequence, the CC course often covers less material less deeply than does the parallel high school course. this can have serious consequences for students who are trying to accelerate so that they can take even more math.

In addition, parents need to be aware that selective colleges and universities expect students to take math throughout their high school careers. This is great for students who love math. It becomes a nightmare for students who thought they were accelerating to get out of math sooner. A student who takes math analysis (precalculus) as a 9th grader is headed for upper division math at Cal (community colleges don't offer upper division courses) before s/he graduates from high school. Some thrive--but many don't.

Judith Bodenhausen Math department Head, BHS