Originally Posted by aeh
On the question of upper level math: our experience has been that the DE math courses have been a much better pace for our children than the supposed high school equivalents--if they are true college courses and not designed for high schoolers in early college programs. Which makes sense, since AP Calc AB is only one semester's-worth of first-year college calc. And for CC vs uni, it's really been more about the individual professors than the institution (keep in mind that a lot of the same professors are adjuncts/affiliates at multiple post-secondaries in a given region--hard to make a living as an adjunct professor at just one job). You might run the names of some of the nearby college instructors through RateMyProfessors to see if you can get a sense of their quality and rigor (not always evident purely from the ratings; DC loved the math professor that a lot of non-STEM majors described as too hard, precisely because so much higher-level conceptual instruction was in the course).

This is a great tip! I had considered reaching out to the CC department head to see their perspective. Since we're at least two hours from the nearest four-year school, it's hard to believe that there are teachers at the CC who are also teaching elsewhere. But I also know some passionate, well-prepared educators teaching at the CC level (my college roommate with a PhD in just went back to get a second graduate degree in math so she could teach math and not just physics in her new rural community). So I'm really interested in those prospects.

On college prep: we have a similar philosophy regarding selective universities. We certainly have not discouraged selective unis, but with offspring who are likely headed to graduate school, our view has been that the quality of undergraduate education, including access to research opportunities, internships, and actual tenured faculty, is more important than the name brand (not that these are not correlated to some extent--just not 1.0). And childhood is short enough as it is, without curating all of their experiences.

This is a very reassuring affirmation of my previous philosophy. smile DS was told by his honors Algebra teacher in 7th grade that he was MIT or CalTech material. So we've had a lot of discussions since then about the relative value of selective schools vs. the cachet that comes of that very selectivity. As an undergraduate at a small liberal arts college, I was able to be so involved in research that I earned an authorship. I don't feel that's as common in big graduate institutions, so that's something I try to keep in mind too.