Algebra 2 is typically regarded by high schools and colleges as a predictor of college enrollment and is therefore required by most colleges. Algebra 2 is often regarded as a tough class for high school students to get through, particularly if they have struggled previously with algebra 1 or geometry, and many students and parents wonder if it is necessary to take algebra 2 in order to get into a four-year university, especially if students are not intending on pursuing a science or math degree. This blog will provide some clarity on this subject as well as clarify what math classes are required to graduate high school and looked favorably upon by colleges.
Do you need Algebra 2 to graduate?
Most high schools require that students take at least three if not four years of math to graduate. Within this standard, it is also often required that two of these classes be a geometry and an algebra class. In general, there is not a specific order in which to take math classes in high school and students can start in different places based on how they test, their previous math exposure, and their level of comfort. If you are struggling with math you can reach out to SoFlo Tutors for 1-on-1 tutoring help.
In high school, the typical order for math classes is:
- Algebra 1
- Algebra 2
This order of classes is not set in stone and where a student starts their freshman year is dependent on what classes they took previously as well as any placement tests taken before the start of high school. It is extremely important to recognize that Algebra 2 is generally a prerequisite for higher level classes like pre-calculus and calculus so if a school requires three math classes in order to graduate, Algebra 2 is the last level technically required because other higher-level classes cannot be taken without it.
A simple breakdown of the math credits required for admission to 4-year universities
Like high schools, most colleges also require that a student completes at least three years of math for admission. More selective colleges may require four years of math and will also check to see what math classes are offered at students’ schools in order to see if they are taking the most challenging ones offered. The classes prioritized by less selective schools are any algebra (algebra 1 and 2) and geometry classes, while more selective schools are looking for the highest levels of calculus offered at the student’s school. However, students can take any combination of the classes in the list above to reach the quota of math classes required but must make sure that they are fulfilling the prerequisites for subsequent classes before planning to take them. A good idea for students is to look at their state’s requirements for graduation or talk to their high school advisors in order to ensure they are taking the appropriate classes to graduate high school and to be considered for admission to the colleges they are applying to.
Can you get into a four-year college without algebra 2?
Because a lot of students find algebra 2 to be one of the more difficult math classes, in order to avoid lowering their overall GPA by taking a difficult class, students wonder if it is possible to get into four-year universities without having to take it. Because most colleges do require 3-4 years of math, including an algebra and a geometry for admission, almost all schools require that a student passes algebra 2 in order to meet that standard. This has to do, again, with the fact that algebra 2 is a prerequisite for higher level classes, so it must be taken before a student can take precalculus. If passing algebra 2 is not a possibility for a student, many community colleges do not have an algebra 2 requirement for admission or offer different math pathways for students entering the programs, so looking at these schools as a pit stop before entry into a four-year university may be a good path for students in this position.
What to do?
While it may be discouraging to students that most colleges require algebra 2 for entry, there are many ways to be successful in this class if a student is struggling. As laid out in our Is Algebra 2 Hard? blog, there are some ways that a student can help themselves be successful in the class.
- Practicing problem types is very important to succeed in a class like Algebra 2.
- Keeping up on homework assigned and doing extra practice from textbooks as well as through online resources like Khan Academy can be very helpful in order to retain and practice the information taught in class.
- Reach out to SoFlo Tutors for help with online math tutoring.
- Asking the teacher of the course or students who have taken the course in the past for resources they recommend or have used to help in areas of weakness could also be helpful because they have insight about what kind of practice is necessary to be successful in the class.
Any of these resources can also help students with the subjects from previous math classes they have identified that they struggle with.
The college application process is stressful enough so it is important that students focus on what they can and cannot control. Algebra 2 is a difficult class, but there are ways to still be successful in it and it is important to recognize that not doing as well as they want to in this class is not the end all be all for students hoping to get into good colleges.