Junior math whiz excels in college course

Emily Kline, Staff Writer

While most students learn mathematics in BSM’s main hallway, junior Stephen Jacobs travels a little farther to meet his math requirement. A participant in the University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program, or UMTYMP, Jacobs takes Calculus III once a week with other accomplished students from around the state.

Hosted at the University of Minnesota, the 30-year-old UMTYMP program provides college-level, professor-taught courses to high school students excelling in mathematics. “You really get a feel of what college courses are really like. You have three tests every semester, and you have to get used to the structure where you don’t have weekly tests, so it builds a study habit,” said Jacobs.

Going to the U of M once a week since seventh grade, Jacobs tested into UMTYMP based on his high grades in math during elementary school, as well as a personal interest in the subject. “I took a test in sixth grade, and around 800 kids test in and around 150 are accepted into the program,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs currently stands alone as the only BSM student taking college courses, but many students have and still can enroll in UMTYMP or PSEO (Post-Secondary Enrollment Options) to fulfill their mathematics, language, or arts credits for graduation. “At BSM, I think one of the reasons we don’t have a lot of students [in college-courses] is because BSM is a college preperatory school, and we have so many AP courses. Also, some students aren’t ready for college courses at that age,” said Amy Desmond, a BSM counselor in charge of transitioning students with interest in college courses into the program.

The difficulty of college-level material and keeping up with homework can dissuade potential applicants. “If you’re into math, I would recommend [UMTYUMP] but if you’re not, I wouldn’t recommend it just because it’s a lot of work and a lot of independent study, and if you can’t handle doing math fast, you’re going to have to suffer through it,” said Jacobs.

Although the UMTYMP program ends junior year, Jacobs hopes to continue studying math with PSEO or AP Statistics at BSM. “As for a career, I could do anything on a pretty wide spectrum of math, but I’m considering at least minoring in mathematics,” said Jacobs.