Dear Powers-that-be-at-all-US-institutions-of-higher-learning:

I do not need to take College Algebra.

That is all.

No, wait, that’s not all. And here’s why:

From kindergarten through eighth grade, I listened and learned in math class. Notice, please, that I said “math” and not “algebra”, although I suspect that a little algebra was snuck in when we weren’t paying attention.

Then I went to high school. Only ONE math credit was required back then and yes, in spite of “losing” my homework on more than one occasion prior to that year, I will brag that I was bumped up to the “advanced” class within a week.

My sophomore year, in order to please dear old Dad, I signed up for geometry. No big deal. Then, for reasons yet unknown and unexplored, in my junior year I took algebra with trigonometry. Ugh. Blech.

At any rate, I graduated high school with two extra credits of math. Surely I should get a waiver for college algebra, based on this alone. Right??

You do understand that I picked my first college partly because there was NO math requirement for my particular degree, right?

Yes, yes, I dropped out; and went back some ten years later…and attended a few other institutions. Well, okay, I was ENROLLED at a couple of them; can’t quite remember how much I actually attended, ya know?

Now, I’m sure that if I had taken college algebra right out of high school I’d remember enough to get by; however, in all these years since graduation, um, almost 30, I haven’t ONE SINGLE TIME had to figure out an algebraic equation OR remember a formula.

As an aside, my husband would argue with that – he insists that ALL math is algebra, but of course, the REST OF THE WORLD knows that algebra is just a small part of math. You know, like trig or geometry or calculus. Heaven forbid.

Basically, I took algebra to prepare me for geometry; geometry to prepare for algebra and trigonometry (honestly, I never understood the logic there either); and apparently that second round was supposed to prepare me for college algebra. But not 30 years later.

So, o hallowed halls of higher learning, why do I have to take this now? Isn’t using “because you have to” a little juvenile? I’m old, I’m rather successfully living my life without algebra, and really, the best reason of all:

Do you really want to be responsible for raising my blood pressure any higher than it’s already been the last few years?

Think about it: scads of “older students” going back to college; what, really are the statistics for those who stroke out over math? Believe it or not, my doctor once diagnosed me with math phobia – does that count? Do I need a note?

Humph. Probably. After all, even teenage students who expect colleges to treat them like adults are often sorely disappointed.

Does anyone still participate in sit-ins? I think we need a protest – NO MORE ALGEBRA!

Listen again to what your husband tells you. Algebra really IS a big part of “math”. One really does not have adequate Basic Mathematical understanding without a good course of Introductory Algebra, such as you may find in high school. How much Mathematics each person needs after that depends on what the person wants to do in their job or career or other interest.

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Apparently YOU aren’t listening. Well, reading anyway. I said algebra is a part of math, HE said it’s ALL algebra. Now, considering that I’m 46 years old, have a career, and have taken three years of mathematics back in the dark ages of high school, requiring additional coursework seems rather silly. Especially since, and I believe I mentioned this as well, the college wanted me to take an introductory course too – unless my SAT scores were over 500 in math. Which they were. Thirty years ago. And really, that’s pretty irrelevant.

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All Math when examined carefully enough really IS ALL ALGEBRA. Why? All of Mathematics is a study of structure. This structure is not limited just to the sets and operations of Arithmetic. Your husband is correct; he just did not try hard enough to justify it to you. YOU might very well not need much Algebra beyond ninth-grade Elementary Algebra – for most people, this is enough. Most people who do not reach beyond “College Algebra” do not get much sense of the structures in Mathematics, so do not find a clear awareness of Algebra other than just “Algebra 1” level skills.

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According to Webster, we’re both right. And I did go rather beyond 9th grade algebra, as I believe I’ve said twice now. But that really isn’t the point. The point was 1) requiring further study in college; 2) requiring that study 30 years post-high school, and 3) waiving the prep class because of a score garnered on an exam 30 years ago. Sheesh.

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Why is College Algebra a requirement for you? Does the department for your major field give you specific reasons other than just “because you have to”? If you were to choose a certificate program instead of a degree, would you still be required to do College Algebra?

College Algebra has some great topics in it. Some of them you found in Intermediate, and some you did not find there. The people who would have some use for College Algebra would be those going into physical sciences, social sciences, engineering, and finance. One of the tasks which unites all of those general fields is numeric data modeling. Each of those general fields would use some parts of College Algebra, including some parts other than data modeling; as example, financial experts need to be very skilled and knowledgable about exponential and logarithmic functions. Another example, some engineers(optical) need to be good at understanding conic sections. Behavioral and social scientists? They often need to use statistics and be able to model data.

On the notion of the child care or culinary fields, I can’t really imagine how College Algebra would be significant – I can only imagine Elementary Algebra, at best, but I do not really know those fields so I couldn’t really judge the needed Math.

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Yes, it’s just “because you have to”. I feel like a six-year-old when I hear that kind of answer! And why in the world would I want a mere certificate program? Personally, I think AA degrees are worthless, a waste of two years when one could be working towards a degree that means something more. If I wanted a certificate program, I could probably buy one….

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