Characteristics of a Math-Ready College Student

Math-Ready College StudentBy Stacy

Math is fun! I first knew that I loved math when I was 6 years old and I would hurriedly dig in to my workbook problems. This type of problem-solving became my habit until I discovered math competitions – like MATHCOUNTS* – which opened many doors for me, both academically and personally, as I found both resume-boosting success and friendship! I later dug in to computer science, finding comfort in its numbers and logical systems, but never forgetting my first love – math.

Some students love math. Other students fear math. But it’s important to learn math from a young age whether or not you are mathematically gifted. High school students who take four years of math are generally more successful in college and in their careers. Even if you do not plan to major in a math-intensive subject, math still plays an important role in your acceptance into the college or university of your choice. Also, if you are all ready for entry-level college mathematics, you can skip costly, no-credit remedial college math classes and expand your choices.

Are you prepared to be a math-ready college student?

You will need to have…

  • Completed at least four courses of high school math, including a math class in your senior year.
  • Prepared for the college placement test by reviewing math content.
  • Completed the math placement test or provided accepted test scores.
  • Reviewed the math requirements for your intended program of study/degree.
  • Reviewed the math requirements for your intended career goal.

Here are my recommendations:

If you are a high school student, realize that certain college classes like chemistry, nursing, statistics, etc. will require some algebra skills to succeed in them. Most colleges and universities require at least College Algebra for any bachelor’s degree. (In college, Beginning/Intermediate Algebra is basically the same as Algebra I/II in high school.)

For future Liberal Arts Majors – Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II, Statistics, Discrete or Contemporary Mathematics.

For future Business Majors – Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Math Analysis, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Statistics

For future STEM Majors – Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Math Analysis, Pre-Calculus, Calculus

While taking these math classes, work hard to learn the mathematics long term and to make connections to your areas of interest.

What if I’m already behind in math?

First, take comfort from Albert Einstein. He said: “Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics; I can assure you that mine are still greater.” Try not to let fear or negative experiences turn you off to math. Math is a sequential subject. This means that what you are learning today builds on what you learned yesterday. So you’ve got to do your math homework every day. It’s like learning how to drive: the more you practice, the more you improve your skills and gain greater confidence.

If you’re already behind in math, there are remedial math prep courses designed to help under-prepared students reach their state’s college- and career-readiness benchmarks. From Basic Arithmetic to Introductory Algebra, you can take one or more of these courses either before or after high school graduation. Check with your local community college for class availability. The Paradise Valley Community College math faculty offers tips on defeating math anxiety.

Helpful resources for learning math

Since I’m a self-proclaimed math nerd (OK, so other people have used that term to describe me too!), I have a lot of this type of material on hand, but these are my current favorites:

SREB Math Ready – These courses are built around the Common Core Standards. Educators in every state, even those that have not adopted the Common Core, can easily use and adapt them to meet the needs of students. (This course material is only available in the iTunes U app for iPhone or iPad.)

Khan Academy – Math by Grade and Subject. Khan Academy offers instructional videos, practice exercises, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace.

Intermediate Algebra Videos – Over fifty short videos that demonstrate basic steps for completing intermediate algebra topics (also known as Algebra II).

WolframAlpha – Compute expert-level answers using Wolfram’s breakthrough algorithms, knowledgebase, and AI technology. – A whole page of resources for all math subjects and grade levels.

Additional Resources

Here are a few additional resources that incorporate fun, approachable tactics for students to build their math skills:

Bing Math Tools – Do the Math: these tools can make math homework a breeze. – offers math “for ages 13-100” with explanations that are easy to grasp on topics like algebra, pre-calculus, and more.

Interactive Math – IntMath aims to interest and educate people in the joys of mathematics. Learn math by playing with it! – Geometry from the Land of the Incas is a free educational website, aimed mainly at high school and college students with the goal of raising interest in Euclidean geometry. – A listing of math camps that inspire students to find fun in math.

*Homeschoolers in grades 6-8, get a head start on practicing your math skills! Register for the MATHCOUNTS Competition Series by December 14. Learn more about it here.  Download the Homeschool Participation Form here.

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