College Calculus senior year of HS?

DD is an upcoming senior in HS, dual-enrolled at our local college. We are trying to determine if it would be a wise move to re-adjust her fall schedule to include college level Calculus. It's a one semester class which means it moves very fast. Of course it would be outstanding SA prep but our hesitation…. messing up that GPA. College level pre-cal is her highest math to date. Does she need this to make herself more competitive? Thoughts?
 
First, I need to give you a little background before answering your question. To put what I have to say in context.

As someone who took AB/BC AP calculus (college Calc 1 and 2) as a sophomore in high school- taking Calc ahead of time is great to get the foundations down. I took it so early that I needed to repeat Calculus 2 this past spring semester as a senior in high school to "freshen up". Both times I did fairly well, but not up to par with my perfectionist standards. This fall, I hope to take calculus 1 again, and offer to peer tutor to gain experience and understand the material even further.

This spring I took it to help me with USNA and getting ready for the fall semester. Plot twist, I didn't get into USNA and missed a lot of the fun parts of senior year as I was too busy studying for my finals. I wouldn't say that I regret the experience- as I learned a lot about seeing things from the other side of the glass and getting a new perspective - which has ultimately made me appreciate the opportunities I have a lot more. But make sure to balance the pros and cons with a more farsighted vision.

If she feels ready to take it then encourage her to reach her limit. It is better to do and fail then to wonder what it would be like to have tried in the first place. Remember that getting a lower grade in a higher class is not weighted the same as a low grade in an entrance level class.
 

usna1985

10-Year Member
Remember that getting a lower grade in a higher class is not weighted the same as a low grade in an entrance level class.
Let me caveat this a bit from the USNA perspective. Getting a "C" in ANY level of Calculus will hurt. Thus, you shouldn't take a course at a level where you don't feel comfortable with the pace and/or difficulty as USNA at least isn't going to say, "So glad he/she took college calc (or AP calc). No problem that he/she earned a C."

The above said, USNA wants to see folks take the most challenging courses available. That typically means high school courses. If you have completed your high school courses in an area such as calculus and want to take a college course to further your education in that area, great. But it's not required and if you choose to do it, be sure to do well in those courses.
 

hthp37

5-Year Member
Is AP calc available at her high school? That may be a better alternative since it is a year-long class.
Definitely accelerated material and pace and carries more gpa weight, but somewhat more manageable, given it is geared towards
high schoolers.
My son validated calc at the academy but when he was thrown into a differential equations class second
semester of his plebe year, he felt like he was drinking from a firehose. He has said, in hindsight, calc is the one class he wishes he did not
choose to validate at usna so he received a better, more college oriented foundation.
 

nolamomma

Member
Is AP calc available at her high school? That may be a better alternative since it is a year-long class.
Definitely accelerated material and pace and carries more gpa weight, but somewhat more manageable, given it is geared towards
high schoolers.
My son validated calc at the academy but when he was thrown into a differential equations class second
semester of his plebe year, he felt like he was drinking from a firehose. He has said, in hindsight, calc is the one class he wishes he did not
choose to validate at usna so he received a better, more college oriented foundation.
Totally agree here with taking AP Calc at HS if available. The thing is any college, SA or regular, wants a math your senior year in HS. It does not look good on the application, transcript to not have a math and science your senior year. I would take it and just buckle down. Also, talk the pre-calc teacher and see if they feel your student is ready for it. SA is tough and it is better going in with a foundation of high math. You do not want to start 4C with no foundation.
 

helmsdown

Member
Is AP calc available at her high school? That may be a better alternative since it is a year-long class.
Definitely accelerated material and pace and carries more gpa weight, but somewhat more manageable, given it is geared towards
high schoolers.
My son validated calc at the academy but when he was thrown into a differential equations class second
semester of his plebe year, he felt like he was drinking from a firehose. He has said, in hindsight, calc is the one class he wishes he did not
choose to validate at usna so he received a better, more college oriented foundation.
If you don't mind me asking, how did your son do in AP Calc? Did he test out of Calc or was he allowed to skip because of his AP score? DD was planning on validating everything she felt comfortable with but has stated she was not going to validate Chem II. She had an A in the class and scored a 5 on the test but after reading your post maybe she shouldn't be too quick to skip it.
 

wondermom

Member
My DD take pre cal in Junior year and have to choose between AP Stadistics (more related to the Major she will pursue) and AP Cal, she decide the second one because in all Academies meeting she went and also SLE and AF SS they told them every si glee time the more prepare in advance math the better for the Academies, and to take the most challenging math offer in their school.
 

hthp37

5-Year Member
If you don't mind me asking, how did your son do in AP Calc? Did he test out of Calc or was he allowed to skip because of his AP score? DD was planning on validating everything she felt comfortable with but has stated she was not going to validate Chem II. She had an A in the class and scored a 5 on the test but after reading your post maybe she shouldn't be too quick to skip it.
He scored 5 on AP test and A in the class overall. I think he validated based on that as well as results of plebe summer testing.
When he took Diff Equations 2nd semester of plebe year, he said he felt lost. He managed to finish the class better than he started, but
I think he felt it was a really tough introduction to college math and maybe taking calc at usna would have been a good review and acclimated
him better to the pace of college math.
He also validated Chem, took organic chemistry 2/C year and did fine. I guess it's an individual thing too.
 

hthp37

5-Year Member
Just wanted to add, every mid is different. My son, although he did quite well in AP calc, has said he doesn't feel
math is his strength, or at least not calc. There are great academic advisors at USNA. Encourage your daughter to
talk it through with them before she makes any decisions.
 
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