BY JENNIFER COULTER
Every time I sit down to do my math homework, I ask myself: Will I ever need to know the radius of a circle or the perimeter of a rectangle?
I am sure many college students working on a Bachelor of Arts degree wonder the same thing.
After I finished my college algebra homework recently, I went online and typed into Google: “Why do I have to take algebra?” I found many websites in which people have asked why algebra is necessary.
Many college administrators argue that students need algebra to learn reasoning skills to compete in the job market.
But when I hear that students are taking algebra for the third or fourth time, my only thought is, “Don’t we just need to learn math to balance our checkbooks?”
When students go out into the real world, they can use computer programs that help them keep track of household expenses.
The New York Times published an opinion article in May on this same topic.
Of all students who start work on a bachelor’s degree, just 58 percent actually earn their diploma, according to the article.
The main reason is freshman math. A national sample of transcripts found mathematics had twice as many Fs and Ds as other subjects.
A study of two-year schools found that less than a quarter of students passed the algebra classes they were required to take.
It has helped me to take math classes online, using the Math XL computer program. I can get help for solving problems with step-by-step advice. The curriculum also shows an instructor demonstrating how to solve the math problems on a whiteboard.
In my current math class, people wrote in their introductions that they were taking the class for the second or third time. Students in my intermediate algebra class were also enrolling for their second or third time.
As I find myself working the problems over and over again, I just hope I do not suffer a similar fate and that I graduate in May.
Maybe learning how to measure a triangle will help my mind with qualitative reasoning. But somehow, I don’t think so.
Coulter just wants to pass math. She hopes everyone in her class will graduate and move on to one of the state universities.