Melodie Baker, Just Equations’ national policy director, was quoted in an EdWeek article examining the role of high school calculus in college admissions and why it has become such a hotly debated topic.
Just Equations, a nonprofit that advocates for greater educational equity in math, surveyed college admissions counselors and high school counselors in 2021 and 2022. Of the 1,250 selective four-year colleges and universities Just Equations contacted, 137 responded: 58 percent were private institutions and 42 percent were public.
“What we learned is that they do indeed look at calculus as the gold standard in this business,” said Melodie Baker.
Eighty percent of admissions officers said that colleges place a priority on calculus, and 53 percent said that having taken calculus gives students an edge in the admissions process.
“While this is often practiced, it’s not an actual policy,” said Baker. Even though college admissions officers hold these beliefs, many colleges don’t explicitly state these preferences in their admissions materials or on their websites, she said.
This opacity in the process can disadvantage lower-income or first generation students, Baker said. “Students who come from wealthy backgrounds are more likely to know the role that calculus plays in college admissions,” she said.
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