The Math We Don’t Need

How math at Mt. SAC has impeded the goals and plans of many students


Graphic: Natalie Lu/ SAC.Media

Force feeding math to students semester after semester is a repetitive torture that beats students into zombies. Unless students are STEM majors, they are too preoccupied with useless classes that take away their ability to focus on ones that teach them skills they will actually use in their careers. Math classes should no longer be a requirement if they are realistically and practically not required.

My history with math goes back for years. Since algebra was introduced to me in the sixth grade, my issues with higher level math have taken off and grown exponentially with every level. At Mt. SAC alone, unnecessary math classes have cost me more than $500 in failed units and math supplies, my 3.7 GPA, and a whole extra year at Mt. SAC before I am ready to transfer.

Community college isn’t supposed to be easy, but it shouldn’t take students so long to transfer out to their university of choice, achieve their associate degrees, or graduate with their bachelor’s. For many of these students, the job market will hover just out of their reach for years after they are supposed to graduate while they are wasting potential, time, and motivation in an algebra class. According to the Hechinger Report, 50 percent of students don’t pass college algebra with a C or above.

Members of my family have attended Mt. SAC and have fulfilled all their requirements with the exception of math. They have told me they are scared of the math classes they need to take to get the degree they want, so they continue to work using the skills they already have, but cannot obtain a bachelor’s to be hired for their desired career. Even the state has noticed that it is ridiculous for students to go through this.

In 2017, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 705, which made it so that California community colleges based its class placement on high school transcripts, for the reason that remedial courses give no college credit and reduce the chance significantly for students to graduate or receive a certificate to transfer to a four year university. According to an article by the Washington Post, of students who must start in college with remedial courses, 75 percent will not make it to graduation. We need to take it a step further and look closely at the major requirements for students that are not in STEM fields, and assess which will need higher level math classes instead of lazily blanketing and bombarding all sorts of students with math requirements.

Don’t get me wrong; math is important, but this is not limited to algebra and statistics, both an either/or requirement to transfer. The math everyone needs is the math that we need to use in everyday life.

In my senior year of high school, I took the one and only math class, and I was taught skills I actually use after I walked across the stage for my diploma. Business math taught me how to keep a balance in my accounts, calculate my salary and discounts in stores, showed me the importance of responsibility when it comes to credit cards, and the possible repercussions of not paying credit card payments. The best part of all: the teacher did not live in a fantasy world void of calculators, so we could use them just like we would in real life. Such classes are the only types of classes that should be required for students who have yet to learn these vital life skills after graduating from high school and while making the transition into adulthood.

Math is a thorn in the side of the average college student, and there is nothing to say that can make it any better. What we need is change. Students graduate high school without knowing how to pay taxes but are expected to know the quadratic formula by heart, and this is unacceptable. Teach us what we need, not what you want.