Tips from a Private Anaheim Math Tutor: Take Stats Instead of Calculus
Taking a calculus class is the final hurdle in many students’ math schedules in high school. It is a well-known math class that has a reputation for being difficult. It is also a commonly accepted belief that students who are taking honors math classes (or similarly higher-level math) should ultimately take calculus before graduation – book your private Anaheim math tutor from TutorNerds. Today, this is often in the form of an AP calculus class during senior year.
A common complaint that calculus teachers hear from their students is “when am I going to use this?” For a class that is the math pinnacle for so many bright students, it seems odd that this concern would be so common. Even more unusual is that many teachers don’t typically have a good answer for it. The most obvious answer that calculus teachers supply is that calculus is more advanced math “that you’ll need for college.”
But is this true? Do you need calculus for college? Here are some common fields that would be likely to require a calculus class to complete the major:
-STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, and math)
-Many business majors
If you are planning to enroll in a STEM program, or expect to be an econ or psych major, then you will have to know calculus at some point in pursuing your degree. Business is a little different since it is common for “business calculus” classes to also be offered that have a different prioritization of subject matter and tend to be easier. Sometimes, no calculus is required. However, knowing calculus would also be useful if you are planning to study business or go for your MBA.
If you are not planning to pursue one of these fields, it is unlikely that you will use much of your calculus knowledge again after high school.
What many students and parents don’t realize is that there is an advanced math alternative to calculus – statistics. AP Statistics is a class option for many students that can be just as rigorous as AP calculus. Statistics also does not tend to prompt the same “why am I learning this” type of questions from students. It is more clearly applicable to regular life and understanding the world and information.
Another important fact is that statistics is a universal skill for colleges. More majors tend to require physics, such as:
-Many STEM majors
Most natural science programs won’t require statistics, but the other STEM majors will. It is a vital class in the social sciences, important in every business major, and also common in the humanities.
If you plan to pursue any subject to an advanced research/doctorate level, then you will need to know statistics. This is because statistics are needed to collect, manipulate, interpret, and present data. It is also important in understanding and evaluating the data and research of others. Data in research is used in every field; this includes the ones listed above but also subjects like literature, history, education, arts, and languages.
What does this mean? It doesn’t mean that calculus is useless, and statistics is better. But it is essential to be aware of your options. The natural math sequence tends to push students toward calculus (even often including a mandatory class called “pre-calculus”). While calculus has its benefits outside of being used in college, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and overall math skills mastery, it should not be treated as the only advanced high school option.
If you aren’t planning to be a STEM major, think you’ll do poorly in calculus, or otherwise, just don’t want to take calculus, then consider taking statistics instead. You are more likely to use the knowledge that you gain, and you’ll start to see statistical theory in use everywhere. And this is coming from a teacher who majored in physics and economics, two of the most calculus-heavy subjects!
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