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December 6, 2007

Studying math in high school = success in college

Andrew Freeman, via a reader's email:

Encouraging teens to drive safely, honor a curfew, or simply make good choices is an enormous task. However, there's something else parents should add to their list -- something that can open many opportunities for high school students: persuade them to take advanced math.

Trust me. I know how hard it can be to convince high school students of the importance of taking a course they may not want, particularly when many seem to have an aversion to this subject. However, as a college admissions professional, I've seen the difficulties students experience without an adequate math background. I've seen how the lack of math skills limits their choices.

Chances are your son or daughter may not want to put down the video game remote to pick up a scientific calculator. They may even believe their deepest aspirations don't require a lot of math. However, the reality is that more than 50 percent of students change their majors at least once. So, even if the major they choose now doesn't require advanced math, the odds are good the one they pick later probably will.

And that's not the only good reason for improving math skills. In high school, you get up to 40 weeks to learn the material. In college, you get about 15. Students who enter college without the necessary math skills are often required to take non-credit skill-building courses. This extra review could mean a crammed first semester schedule or an additional semester in college.

Math doesn't have to be a teenager's nightmare. Encourage them to ask questions in class, stay for help, find a tutor, access math Web sites, take advantage of WXXI's Homework Hotline or find out if your school offers math-specific study halls.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at December 6, 2007 11:24 AM
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