This doesn’t add up: Choosing a math class is harder than you think


Sammie Hoefe

Melanie Linsdey works hard to finish her geometry homework.

by Sammie Hoefs and Melanie Lindsey

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The time has come for students to sign up for classes for the next school year. This often comes with questions and concerns about what classes are best. The decision about math is one of the most difficult.

Math teachers often have concerns about the class their students should be taking. Most students double up on math, thinking it will help them in the long run. For some, that is a smart choice, but students need to make sure it is the right fit.

“To be honest, most students follow whatever their friends are doing and not necessarily their own career path or career goals,” said Leslie Byrd, Math Department Chairperson.

Choosing between merit or honors can be easy for some, but many struggle with which one fits them best. Another concern is how many classes a student should take. Most stick to the minimal one math class per year requirement.  

The math department came up with a system to make sure students choose the course that is best for them. The teacher will meet with each student one-on-one to see what their end goal is. Then, they will make their written recommendation and the student must return their paper with a signature from their guardian. If they wish to go against the recommendations, teachers will make a phone call home to discuss what is best for their student. This elaborate system is new this year because so many students try to change their math class later, and that effects teachers and class sizes.

Students can talk to guidance counselors and their parents. However, some students feel they need to do more just to get into college. They push themselves to look good for colleges, but where should the limit be set?

When some students sign up for classes, they often say they could always just drop it later. However, Mrs. Byrd said, “They are no longer going to honor that.” Switching out of a class has a huge impact on education when classes are overcrowded. Also, if not enough students sign up for a class then the staffing is affected. The new recommendation sheet allows the math teachers to see what students signed up for and may not allow them to switch out.

“Counselors have a much bigger picture, and they understand what classes are required for certain colleges. I think they have a crucial role in helping you develop your big picture,” said Byrd.

“Now that it is time to sign up for classes, it gets very stressful not knowing what math is best for me. Everyone says different things which can cause a lot of confusion. Everyone’s paths are different, so sometimes it gets very complicated,” said a member of the class of 2021, Skylar Stevenson.

When there are not enough students signed up for a class the school is forced to change the staffing that fits with what the students sign up for. Teachers want students to sign up with a purpose and know what they are signing up for.