Is Second-String Math Program Sufficient for College?
Question: So I'm in 9th grade taking Algebra 1 this year and I had taken a course that would bump me up to Geometry but unfortunately I failed the test. I want to ask, is taking the regular math stream ( Alg 1, Geo, Alg 2, Calc) in high school good enough for colleges or is it better if I go up one math grade for college?
Completing calculus by the time you finish high school will put you ahead of the majority of college applicants. So you will be in good shape when it's time to apply to college.
BUT ... if you are aiming for the Ivies, MIT, CalTech or a handful of other hyper-selective universities (the picky places that accept roughly 20 percent of their applicants or fewer), then you'll find that the majority of your “competitor applicants" will have completed math through Advanced Placement Calculus. Some will have even finished AP Calc in grade 11 and gone on to take college math classes in grade 12.
Thus, if your math trajectory takes you through “regular" calculus but not AP in your senior year, this is not an automatic deal-breaker at the most selective colleges but it will put you at something of a disadvantage. If, however, your school does not offer AP Calculus, then the deficiency will not be a factor.
Bottom line: The math trajectory you are on seems fine. But if you discover that the class you're in now doesn't seem sufficiently challenging, you can ask your guidance counselor or the math department chair if you can take geometry over the summer and then jump onto a higher track. But don't worry about your current trajectory if you feel comfortable where you are because it will position you well at most colleges.