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Bad situation, need advice.

  1. Jul 26, 2014 #1
    Hi physics forums, I'm in a bit of a situation and I was wondering if anyone could offer some advice.

    I'll start out describing the problem. I am currently a senior in high school but there is this program where I can take two classes at the local university. My original plan was to take calc three and linear algebra this semester, and ODEs and Physics 3(modern physics) the second semester. Later I was told there was a limit to the number of credit hours I can take so I had to drop linear algebra. I then decided to take ordinary differential equations instead, only it turns out that calc 3 is a prerequisite. I'll state here that I have credit for calc 2 and physics 2 and I have already taught myself calc 3, ODEs, Linear Algebra, some PDEs, and a good amount of Quantum Mechanics. In fact, I am currently doing research at the same university and I have had to deal with the Schrodinger equation many times. I can definitely handle a basic ODE course. I asked for an override and the assistant chair said no. I tried to explain that I know most of "most" of calc 3 (I didn't want to sound arrogant) and a good amount of differential equations such as how to solve exact equations. I looked at the description of the course and that was all that had anything to do with calc 3. She still said no. I even pointed out that many colleges only have calc 2 as a prequisite for ODEs, but she only responded saying that was untrue. At this point, I am pretty frustrated, I looked up her CV and as it turns out she doesn't have much experience with math. She doesn't have any degrees in it, she only teaches high school level math at the university, and she doesn't do any research. I realized then that she didn't know what she was talking about, and there wouldn't be a way to reason with her. I then tried going to the physics department to ask for an override so I could take physics 3(calc 3 is a prereq). The lady told me I couldn't handle it because I'm in high school.

    So now I am only enrolled in calc three for the fall semester. I then might have to take some humanities class online or something. I would then be only taking one math and zero science classes. Besides slowing down my progress, I don't think it would look very good to colleges that I'm taking only one math class considering I want to be a physics major. I can still try going to the department chairs and asking them for overrides, but it feels pretty hopeless at this point. Any suggestions on what I should do? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Oh and sorry for the long post.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2014 #2
    Have you tried talking to the prof of the ODEs class? I thought at most universities you just needed the professors consent, not the departments.

    You actually look really good to colleges since you're attempting to take college courses during high school! If you can only take calculus 3, that's okay.

    Good luck!
  4. Jul 26, 2014 #3


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    Why not take probability instead? You'll need it later anyway. Almost certainly there would be no problem doing probability at the same time as calc 3.
  5. Jul 26, 2014 #4


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    It's annoying to be stereotyped, but you have to consider where they're coming from as well. These people don't know you, and though you claim to know all of this material, for all they know, you're a typical teenager with an inflated sense of your capabilities. They also know that many students struggle with these courses. The prerequisites are there for a reason, and they're not likely to ignore them just because you say they shouldn't apply to you.

    You say you're doing research, so there are people at the university who are more familiar with your knowledge and skill level, right? Why don't you see if they can't help you have an exception made for you? The opinion of a professor who is familiar with what you can do and who really knows what each course involves will carry a lot more weight than your self-assessment based on reading the course description.
  6. Jul 26, 2014 #5
    Thanks for the advice guys!

    @verty That was a really good idea! I just signed up for a probability course. I'm still going to try and get into ODEs, but that is an excellent backup.

    @vela I don't think the professor I work with will have much of a say in the math department, I'm doing research in physics, though I still might as well ask him.
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