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Being Forced Into Math That Is Too Difficult 
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#19
Jul2911, 01:06 AM

P: 53

Thanks for all the replies everyone. I register for my classes tomorrow morning and it looks like I'm going to try to get into Math 17A (Calc for biomajors). I have the Stewart precal textbook and will begin to self study for the rest of the summer.
In response to those who are confused about the situation, I am currently at summer orientation for the College of Biological Sciences at UC Davis. Because of the fact that I could only apply as one major (I chose evolutionary bio), I have to wait until school starts before I can declare Chinese as a second major. Any other words of advice or anecdotes from anyone? 


#20
Jul2911, 04:52 PM

P: 183

Since you are short on time, I'd say you should concentrate on chapters 17.
In case my edition of Stewart differs from yours, that means to concentrate on polynomial, exponential, and logarithmic functions, and trig, because that is what most calculus classes assume from the outset. The stuff on polar coordinates, sequences and series, systems of equations, and conic sections is less essential for now, because a "calculus for bio majors" class will almost certainly begin those subjects from the ground up, if it gets to them at all. And every calc class takes you through limits. You should get a free graphing program off the internet to help you visualize functions. One of my favorites is simply called "graph," but there are many. There are also free fullblown CAS programs like Maxima, or even expensive ones like Maple or Mathematica if your school has them, but they take a lot longer to learn, so I'd stick with a simpler one for now. Also be aware that in the beginning of the CALCULUS text of Stewart (and perhaps others), there is a diagnostic test at the beginning, which will tell you where your weakest areas of precalc are. You might borrow that book from a friend or the library and take the test to see where you need the most work. Good luck to you. 


#21
Jul2911, 08:32 PM

P: 53

Thank you Brocks for the excellent advice.
My schedule is now finalized. In my first quarter, I am taking: 1. Calculus for Bio majors (4 units) 2. Workload Chemistry (More or less a "prechem" class) (3 units) 3. Geology of Earthquakes (2 units) 4. Early Medieval Culture (4 units) I am lucky to have classes that I find interesting, as almost nothing was open to register for, and a lot of other freshman got lamesounding classes. Does this sound like a good amount for a first quarter? 


#22
Jul3011, 01:02 AM

P: 183

With the caveat that college was a long time ago for me, that sounds kind of light. When I was in school, 15 hours was considered a typical load for the average student, and if you are planning on a double major in fields as disparate as Chinese and Bio, you'll probably have to take a heavier load than average if you want to finish in 4 years. Maybe you can audit some classes you wanted to take but were full, and add one of them after people drop out and leave some vacancies.
And watch out for the geology. I never took it myself, but for some reason every girlfriend I had in college did, and it made every one of them cry. Literally. Then again, at that age I wasn't selecting for brains. 


#23
Jul3011, 02:45 AM

P: 193

I would also agree that 13 credits is pretty light for a semester (esspecially since you only have 1 lab class  with 23 lab classes that might be ok because of the time commitment). However, if you're on 10week quarters, and those units are listed as semesterhours  your classload is probably about right. If that is the case  I expect you meet for 6hr/week for your calc and midieval culture classes? 


#24
Jul3011, 04:22 AM

P: 53

I realize that this is a bit of a light course load, but I think it is probably a good idea for me to do this first quarter to allow for adjustment to life away from home. Next quarter I will up the ante to around 15 units.
The prechem class does not count towards my degree, as it is run through a local Junior College on my University's campus. However, precalculus deos count as it is considered a college class. I am going to try and waitlist Chinese 1 as I couldn't get in during the first registration period (I am REALLY bummed about this). Hopefully some people will drop it. 


#25
Jul3111, 02:31 AM

P: 53

I have another question. I am seriously concerned about the curves in college. I have heard horror stories about them, but I really don't know anything else. Could some of you please explain to me what the grading curves at your schools are/were like? Thanks.



#26
Jul3111, 02:53 AM

P: 4,573

I'm an Australian, so this will probably not apply to you, but in the courses I take (mathematics) scaling usually doesn't happen. If you ace the assessments and exams here, you get exactly what you should get. Subsequently if everyone doesn't meet the standard, they fail. In our subject handouts, they tell you whether scaling is a standard procedure. Hopefully when you get such a handout, this should be detailed for you as it is for me. 


#27
Jul3111, 07:52 AM

P: 772




#28
Jul3111, 07:53 AM

P: 172

Calculus 1 won't be difficult, and I think precalculus is actually harder, although Calculus 2 uses a lot more of your precalculus knowledge. It's a piece of cake compared to the beast known as Organic Chemistry.



#29
Aug111, 12:45 AM

P: 64

Precalc at the University of Victoria is the equivalent to senior high school math. Take calculus.



#30
Aug1311, 08:27 PM

P: 53

Thanks everyone for your advice. I am beginning to feel that calculus is the right choice for me. I took a refresher, "intermediate algebra" course in the beginning of the summer and breezed through it. Now I am in the process of chugging through the first 7 chapters like someone suggested. Although I really struggled in high school precal, I barely pulled out a C because I thought I was too cool to pay attention and do homework (we were all 16 once). But now I am finding the precalculus topics to be really simple and easy to understand. I just ordered my calc book and will check with that to see if I have to deal with polar coordinates etc. Thanks again everyone.
Any other anecdotes or stories about grading curves? 


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