1
6 months ago
Admissions Advice
[edited]

Should I take pre-calc or trigonometry?
Answered

Hello! Here's my predicament; I am currently taking Algebra 2 over the summer in order to get onto the advanced math track + to study for the SAT. As such, I'm trying to figure out which math course I should take next year in order to be competitive for prestigious colleges. The 3 main options at my school are trigonometry, introduction to data science, or pre-calculus. Trigonometry is the course for students who completed Algebra 2, but are not quite ready for the rigors of pre-calc. Introduction to data science is a new course that was added, but I have already ruled out that option since I'm already going to be taking AP Statistics my senior year, and would like to have some trig/pre-calc experience on my college applications.

The reason why I am considering trig as opposed to pre-calc is primarily rooted in the fact that as previously mentioned, I am taking Algebra 2 over the summer. I am worried that I may do poorly in pre-calc, hence damaging my 3.96 unweighted GPA, since I'll be coming into the course with a mere 6 weeks of crammed-in Algebra 2 under my belt. Though the math department of my school did mention that they didn't have a chance to teach all of the Algebra 2 content last year due to COVID, and that the pre-calc course will revisit Algebra 2 content and adjust accordingly, I was still cautioned by both my counselor and geometry teacher that taking pre-calc after a summer's worth of Algebra 2 would not be a wise decision, due to the potential repercussions it may hold on my GPA. While this steers me more towards taking trig next year, I am concerned that not taking pre-calc may look poorly to highly competitive schools and Ivy Leagues, and would damage my chances of admission.

Some more background information so you get the full picture of my predicament: next year I will be taking AP English Language, AP Environmental Science, AP Spanish Language and Culture, either trig or pre-calc, and U.S. History from a local community college (as a dual enrollment course). This means that assuming I get all A's, I'll have a 4.76 GPA by the end of junior year. I won't go through my entire profile, but I will mention that I am a ballet dancer of 11 years for a pre-professional ballet company, and I spend up to 25 hours per week training and rehearsing for upcoming performances. I am co-owner and editor for an independent political journal. I am director of marketing for a non-profit. Though I have more activities under my belt, I'll keep it at those main ones for the sake of your time. The reason I mention these things is so that you may put my predicament into context; given my busy schedule and overall profile, would not taking pre-calc and opting for trig have severe repercussions on my chances of admission to schools? Also do keep in mind that I am a prospective English or Poli Sci major, intending to either pursue a minor or double major in dance.

Thank you so much in advance for your help; I truly appreciate it!

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2 answers

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Accepted Answer
6 months ago

To be honest, it looks better if you get a lower grade in a higher level class than a good grade in an easier class. I've taken both and have to say if you're mathematically inclined, I think you'll do fine in pre-calc. However, with your busy schedule, if you'd prefer to take the easier class because of everything you have going on, that's not a bad idea either. If you're going for English or Poli Sci degree w/ a dance degree, you won't be using a lot of math anyways. Both choices are good, don't stress about it. Good luck!

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2
6 months ago

If you feel that you have understood everything from your Algebra 2 summer course, then I would say to take pre-calc. But if you aren't confident in everything you learned, I would suggest taking trigonometry, especially since your schedule seems packed. Also, I think you should consider what you want to study in college. If you plan on majoring in something that requires a fundamental base in math, such as sciences, then you should consider taking pre-calc as it would provide you with some basic knowledge of the subject before heading to college. If you end up taking trigonometry, would you consider taking pre-calc your senior year? Looking at your classes that you're taking, you seem to have a pretty strong schedule and a high GPA.

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