The Importance of math and college acceptance.

By Ellen Richards
EllenRichardsStudents must have access to high level math classses and be encouraged to take four years of math during high school. Students who do not take and pass a rigorous math sequence in high school are ineligible for admission to many four-year colleges and universities.

  • Access to academically challenging course work in high school significantly increases the likelihood of a student successfully completing bachelors degree.
  • Access to and enrollment in challenging courses had a greater impact on admission to college than any other factor, including income level and parents’ level of education.
  • In 2004 an average applicant who passed Pre-Calculus increased his/her chance of gaining acceptance to college by 79%.
  • Completing a Pre-Calculus course is the equivalent of raising one’s GPA from a 3.1 to a 3.6 in terms of admission to college.

Although overall grades serve as an indicator of students’ academic achievement in high school, the strength of curriculum – and particularly grades in college preparatory courses – are better indicators of a students’ likelihood of succeeding in college. College preparatory courses include classes in mathematics, language and science. Participation in a college preparatory curriculum and a student’s performance in the courses indicate to college admission officers both motivation and ability to succeed in postsecondary education. In fact, results of two major research studies show that students who complete a rigorous high school curriculum are much more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree than those who complete less rigorous curricula.

Generally speaking, students begin to develop occupational and educational aspirations from elementary school age through middle school. Research shows that most students have some post-high school educational or job plans by the ninth grade. Students need to begin to develop college awareness aspirations in the middle school years in order to take Algebra, and other gate keeping courses in middle school, which then position students for high school course work that aligns well with college enrolment requirements.

Grades in preparatory courses, strength of curriculum, admission test scores, and overall grades were the top four factors in the college admission decision. More than half of all colleges and universities rated each of these factors as “considerably important.”

However, Colleges across the board indicate that high school grades in college preparatory courses are the most important factor in admission.

Ellen Richards has successfully guided hundreds of families through the college admissions process and has developed a deliberate and strategic approach to her field that yields excellent results. For more information please visit