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For a high school student that has the options of taking one of Statistics, Algebra or Calculus as subjects, which subject would be the best choice if the person is still undecided on a specific career path (in other words would want to keep their options as general as possible)?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Adam Hughes, Woodface, Johanna, anomaly, Daniel W. Farlow Mar 9 '15 at 1:45

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 7 down vote accepted

You would need to take Algebra before taking Calculus (which is applied to a variety of fields), do you actually have to choose just one? Statistics is widely applicable to the real world too, possibly even more so than Calculus, but I would probably not do either Calculus or Statistics at the expense of missing out on Algebra -- it really is fundamental to both.

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If the three options are statistics, calculus, and algebra:

  • I'd guess that "algebra" refers to some sort of linear algebra or basic group theory
  • If the set of potential career paths is largely scientific, calculus is likely to be a requirement somewhere along the way (even if only as a gatekeeper course), so it would probably be the best choice.
  • Otherwise (and especially if the set of potential career paths contains social sciences, psychology, science, and other fields where data is used—there are a lot of such fields), statistics is the most likely to be useful.
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Assuming that you have had some form of algebra, since its not typically a high school subject anymore, I would advise you to take statistics. The subject of statistics is used in just about every major in college. In fact, most majors require the student to take a statistics course before graduation. Exposure to this subject will benefit you when making your career choice in the long run.

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I believe that chances are whichever of the three courses you decide to take in high school, there is a likely chance that you may have to take it again in college or university. Certain exceptions are there, but it is common to make some mathematics course a requirement.

That much said, algebra (hereby I am assuming elementary algebra, and not abstract algebra) is quite fundamental to doing both calculus and statistics.

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