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Academic advice: What would you do?

  1. Jun 21, 2015 #1
    Alright, so here's the deal. I graduated from college at the end of 2014 with two degrees in liberal arts majors. I was extremely upset by the education I received because it relied too heavily on terminology instead of problem-solving.

    I now have the chance to go back to school again. I am hoping to get a B.S. in Physics, because I believe that I am a born problem-solver who just wasn't in the right environment within the public school system, which led me to not following my true dreams.

    In college the highest level of math course that I took was math 021, a college algebra course, which was self-taught on the Aleks' course management system. In this course, I earned a B-, largely because I did not have an actual instructor, aside from infrequent office hour visits.

    I would also like to point out that I earned a meager 470 on the math section of the sat, compared to a 650 on the writing section, and a 590 on the verbal section, a score that I believe was largely due to my poor background in mathematics.

    The bottom line is that I truly want to get a degree in physics, but I need to do something to correct the poor education I received in the past so I do not drown in the proverbial water if I undertake this course of action. So, finally, what I mean to ask is this: If you (the reader) happened to be in this situation, what would you review, and how would you go about it so you would be ready to solve this problem?

    Any advice will be deeply appreciated. Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 21, 2015 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    I would start taking math at your local Community College until you finished Calculus. Then I would apply to physics programs.
  4. Jun 21, 2015 #3
    Thanks. I'll take that into consideration. However, I was hoping to start at the same institution I initially graduated...
  5. Jun 21, 2015 #4
    Any particular reason? Is it cheaper?

    If you are really determined to stay at that institution, then take up through calculus there. It will probably cost more in the long run and you won't have any real advantage to do so, but that's your choice. Once you begin in calculus one, that same semester you can take your first calculus-based physics course. If you want, before you reach that level you can also take some CS courses.
  6. Jun 21, 2015 #5
    I would review algebra and geometry, and enroll in precalculus algebra and trigonometry courses at a community college. You should be able to take them in the same semester if you wish. Also, community colleges generally have transfer agreements and recognized course equivalents with instate universities.

    Preparing students for calculus is an area in which community colleges often excel. Also, precalculus at a university may only be a one semester course, so consider that as well.
  7. Jun 22, 2015 #6


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    Well, Aleks is pretty useless for learning any actual math. It's not a bad mechanism for determining what you know and don't know, but it doesn't teach much. Nowadays, Khan Academy does the same thing better. What that leads me to suspect is that you don't know much useful math at this point, probably even your basic high school math has degraded. You can determine that for yourself by figuring out your knowledge level using Khan Academy or Aleks.

    Whatever you discover, you'll have to find some good way to go back to where you need to, and then learn mathematics properly up through a first year of calculus before you'll be up to anything more than conceptual physics. Be quite clear that if you are not very solid on algebra, trying to learn calculus will just be an exercise in frustration.
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