- A majority — 93% — of surveyed high school counselors said calculus gives students an advantage in college admissions, according to a report released Wednesday by math education equity organization, Just Equations, and the National Association for College Admission Counseling. However, a previous survey found just 53% of college admissions officers agreed on the same thing.
- On top of that, 73% of high school counselors said not taking calculus will hinder students’ college options, but only 34% of admissions officers said the same. When considering statistics courses, 5% of counselors said they recommend statistics equally with calculus to help students gain college admission.
- The report recommends schools include rigorous and relevant math course offerings to students that match their aspiring college majors and careers. College and academic counseling should also be offered as early as middle school, the report said.
There’s a mismatch between what math courses students are encouraged to take in high school to gain admission into college versus what they are interested in and actually plan to study in college, said Veronica Anderson, co-author of the report. A previous study found admissions counselors believe AP Statistics carries the least amount of weight in college admissions compared to other advanced math courses.
“There are some states trying to address math pathways in K-12 education to create more options, but again these beliefs are strongly held and it’s kind of tough to do that,” Anderson said.
The report also recommends schools focus on student well-being when students prepare for college, adding that high schools can limit the number of AP courses offered or the number of those classes students are allowed to take.
“High schools are just very stressful now, and a lot of that is just driven by kids trying to do what they need to do to get into these colleges that they want to go to,” Anderson said. “If you love math and you want to go into STEM, great. Take it. If kids aren’t even interested in it, is that something we really want to force them to do, or have them feel like they’re forced to do?”
The report recommends students interested in social sciences be encouraged to take statistics or data science courses, too.
The percentage of students taking statistics and probability classes has grown within the past three decades from 1% of public and private high school students in 1990 to 25% of 12th graders saying in 2019 they had taken this course in middle or high school.
The Just Equations and NACAC report compiled survey results from 323 high school counselors in private, public and charter schools.