High School Horror Stories: My...

High School Horror Stories: My Experience with Pre-Calculus 11

by Tiffany Chang
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Many in (or who have already finished) high school are aware that grade 11 is when general subjects branch out into courses focusing on specific areas of each. In my case for example, Math branched (and still branches) out into Pre-Calculus, Foundations of Mathematics, and Apprenticeship and Workplace Math.

Grade 11 was when things got particularly difficult for me, especially regarding math. It’s never been one of my strengths and this was evident more than ever when I decided to take Pre-Calculus. The school year also got off to a rough start as I initially decided on taking Foundations of Mathematics but was convinced by people around me to transfer to Pre-Calculus three weeks into the school year as this course is a way to keep your options open for university programs. As a result, not only did I struggle with the material, I was also behind everyone else.

I caught up eventually and someone briefly tutored me for my very first test in the class, but it didn’t help much. As stated above, I had experienced challenges with math in the past. The difficulties I encountered with Pre-Calculus, however, were on another level. It became a constant source of anxiety and each time I opened the textbook, it almost seemed like I was experiencing a recurring nightmare. I recall staying up to the wee hours of the morning doing my Pre-Calculus homework and studying for the course’s exams throughout the year. I also remember even dreading having to physically step foot into our classroom. All in all, the only motivative aspect of the class for me was being able to see a few friends on a regular basis.

While Pre-Calculus 11 was probably one of the most challenging courses (if not the most challenging course) I’ve ever taken, the experience did teach me a valuable lesson. I made a decision based on what others thought was best for me and not what I knew was right. I definitely wasn’t going to pursue a career that involves a lot of math and should have done more research on university programs that catered to my strengths and/or I was interested in, as well as their required prerequisites beforehand. I just felt overwhelmed at the time and wanted to please others, so I simply went along with what was recommended.

I learned that truly listening to myself while engaging with course selection was essential. Sure enough, I wasn’t required to take Pre-Calculus in order to get into the program I eventually took in university, so I didn’t have to stay up all those nights thinking this math would somehow be helping with my future plans.

Despite everything, I did feel proud of myself for persevering and finishing the course. It clearly wasn’t ideal to take Pre-Calculus 11, but I ended the year knowing I tried my absolute best and that’s all I could’ve done. Overall, I overcame a challenge, and, though in a difficult way, I most importantly learned my lesson about making decisions that are a better fit for me.

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