Eat, Sleep, Solve: Math Whizzes Participate in Georgia Tech Class


Problem Solved: Seniors Chloe Van Nort, Quinton Cables and Emily Song are part of the ultra-exclusive North-Atlanta based Distant Program where North students take a Tech class from their own school campus.

For some students, just the sight of a math problem is enough to make them feel nauseous. But for a select group of math-hungry North Atlanta seniors, it is just a part of everyday life. The selective Distance Program is a college math course at the Georgia Institute of Technology that is offered to high school students that have a passion for math. The program is offered in only a few high schools across the state of Georgia, and one of these sites is North Atlanta. It’s no easy task to get in the class. Just to be considered for admission, a prospective student must complete the AP Calculus BC Exam with a score of 4 or 5, have at least a 3.5 overall and math GPA, and have gotten at least a 600 on the math section of the SAT or a 27 on the ACT math. With these rigorous requirements, it is no wonder that there are only 11 Warriors enrolled in this year’s program.

Mornings are for math, as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings are devoted to the class, which starts promptly at 8 a.m. Participants listen to the day’s lecture live from the Tech classroom and are virtual students in a Tech class. Divided into two courses, the program consists of Linear Algebra in the fall and Multivariable Calculus in the spring. Calculus teacher David Ehrman oversees the program and also provides support to those enrolled in the class.

Senior Emily Song is one of the 11 students taking this rigorous course. She saw it as an opportunity to challenge herself and to hone her math skills. Song plans to major in biology or chemistry, and go into medical school to become a doctor. She believes that this program will better prepare her for what comes ahead, as medicine is a very math and science-heavy field. With the class offered by Tech, there is a greater chance of her being accepted to the prestigious school. “Most kids in the Distance Program tend to get into Tech, but it’s not guaranteed,” she said. “But being in it definitely helps increase your chances of getting in.”

Leighton Carpenter is also enrolled in the Distance Program this year. Like Song, he saw it as an opportunity. Planning to major in biomedical engineering, Carpenter is eyeing Tech as a possible option for undergraduate study. If he meets the requirements set by the school, he could earn credit for the class and wouldn’t have to take it going into his freshman year. “Linear algebra is a required course for my major, so if I’m able to get that out of the way, I can focus more on research,” he said.

There is no arguing that the Distance Program is challenging. Each year, North Atlanta’s brightest math minds challenge themselves to early morning wake ups and a demanding environment. But Song and Carpenter both agree: it’s worth it. “If you’re interested in math and want to challenge yourself, there is no better course to do it than the Georgia Tech Distance Program,” Song said.