# “4 year HS math recommendation” meaning

My daughter is a junior in HS and is currently taking AP Calc BC. Her HS offers AP Stat so technically, she doesn’t max out with math offered at her school after this year. Her HS counselor also told her she isn’t maxed out because she could take linear algebra or differential equations at our local JC. But she would rather take AP Psych (a very popular class with good teacher but an elective) than AP Stat (which she’s not very interested in with mediocre teachers). The HS counselor strongly recommends she takes AP Stat next year to show 4 years of math to keep her competitive edge since many colleges state “4 years recommended” for math.

I would think that with AP Calc BC that already shows she is capable of higher level math, colleges wouldn’t really care if she didn’t take math her senior year. She is not interested in CS, engineering, or hard sciences and is thinking of pre-Med. Am I being naive or is there another matrix that colleges work with that I am not aware?

Aside from the fact that I’ve been weary of the AP labeling of rigorous classes and the idea of putting together a perfect portfolio for the colleges, I would rather my daughter takes classes that she enjoys, especially during her senior year. She thought she would enjoy math and was thinking about taking linear algebra during her senior year. Now, after a year of calc, she thinks math is not in her future. Would she really be limiting her college selection by taking this opportunity to explore her interests rather than trying to meet college expectations?

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I think you answered your question": "I would rather my daughter takes classes that she enjoys" and "she would rather take AP Psych". Gaining a better understanding of what your interests are is priceless. Good luck to her!

If your student as a junior is currently taking AP Calc BC, that assumes that she completed high school level math, like algebra in middle school. Colleges will consider that middle school class as one year of a high school math level course. You can open a test account of a UC application and see that there is a place to enter middle school math or language other than English courses. I agree that your daughter should pursue classes of most interest to her.

One thing you and your daughter could ask yourselves... if a college would eliminate her from consideration based on that one thing (4 years of math vs. 3), is it the right college for her? What kind of college experience is she hoping to have?

My impression is that one huge thing colleges are looking for is evidence that a student has agency in their own learning and will be prepared for the independence that comes with college. (i.e., taking responsibility for their own learning, directing their own studies/scholarship to a greater extent than in K-12, etc.) So if this is reflected elsewhere in her essays/application, I wouldn't worry too much about taking a 4th year of math, especially (as you say) when she has already completed the course that is kind of widely regarded as the capstone of a successful high school math experience.

Keep encouraging your daughter to do what she loves and explore what she's curious about! That will prepare her for college better than anything else.

No, that's silly, she's already taken the equivalent of more than 4 years of HS math and does not need any additional math for pre-med. She should take classes she's interested in. Good idea to take a community college class though.

Your daughter should take classes she enjoys. Think of it as a life lesson- she should follow her interests and not a prescribed path by the counselor. I promise you, she will have plenty of choices for college.

What a great attitude for you & your daughter to have!

Whenmy daughter didn’t get the “best” score she “could” have on the ACT, her tutor & I encouraged her to take it again. She pushed back and said “I’ll get into a college commensurate with my grades & this score & my application.” (AND there’s NO WAY I’m sitting for another 7 hours -with accommodations- for a stupid test again!) She got into 1 of her reach schools and has been super happy there! Seems like a happy secure girl wrote a happy secure application!

I agree with the prior post. If your daughter wants to take AP Psych, she should take it. Learning to go with your interests is so important in today's cookie cutter, competitive culture. Besides, it will probably reflect on her as a well-rounded person. And it's always good to have a great professor! They are valuable and rare. All the best for her and you!

The question is what kind of college she is aiming for. If she wants MIT, Caltech, UC Berkeley EECS, etc., with admission rates of approximately 5% or less, many students have taken math beyond AP Calc BC. These students often take a class at a community college, though some elite high schools offer these classes. Colleges will be more impressed by a year of linear algebra at a community college than AP Psych. Ask the admissions departments of the colleges she wishes to attend. How committed is she to pre-med? Pursuing advanced math at college would make her application stand out, and starting early will help that. (You might think I'm getting ahead of myself, but I know an excellent student from Berkeley High who did well as bio major at a very selective UC, had a decent MCAT score, etc., and was turned down by every medical school.) It's good to know the hard facts of admissions.

I can't advise on the college admissions questions, but as a computer scientist who hated calculus and enjoyed linear algebra, I wouldn't write off linear algebra as an option. Maybe she could check it out during the summer before senior year? In general, I am inclined to agree with your outlook about exploring interests, but I hope that at some point in the future she takes a stat class, hopefully from a better teacher. I pushed my kids to take college statistics courses because statistical literacy is so helpful to becoming an engaged and informed citizen, and it's also important for understanding studies in many professions including health sciences.