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Does this subforum need stronger guidlines?

  1. Aug 7, 2005 #1

    matt grime

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    I wondered if any one had raised this point before, or if it wre hidden in a sticky somewhere:

    as one on the teaching side of the fence, I find the requests in the academic and career guidance forum for people to 'ok' their choice of units for the next semester most dsiturbing. courses are individual to the offering university (and remember this is an international forum) and the hidden necessities of prerequisites (for the options about to be taken and the implications for future study) make this a minefield. anyone who offers an opinion is almost certainly not in a position to be able to do so with any authority. i would like something to be added to that forum stating in no uncertain terms that such specific advice is impossible to give and that they ought to ask their teachers or personal tutors. the last thing anyone here would want is to be blamed for a bad choice to be made.

    as an example, I always find it puzzling that people ask such things as if analysis 1 is required for course X, as if there were a universal definition of "analysis 1".

    perhaps just some "remember, no one here knows your circumstances except you, and on one here knows anything about your particular university (which they never name)"
     
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  3. Aug 7, 2005 #2

    GCT

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    Sounds good, A sticky should be posted

    The program standards for most majors are very similar in the US since most universities comply with such institutions as...ACS for example. I've transferred a couple of times in my undergraduate years and I've found all of them have almost identical standards as such that applies to general prerequisites, course content, semester hour requirements for graduation etc...mainly because these programs are devised and dictated by each state's Board of Regents and their policies.
     
  4. Aug 7, 2005 #3

    matt grime

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    having been on the end of one disgruntled student in my time (which, let's face it is 1 out of perhaps 500 over the last 4 years and might seem insignfiicant) i tend to opt for caution these days and think that it's worth reminding students that ultimately there are no guarantees of anything. i must stress that i have firm faith in the vast majority of students to make sensible and well informed choices ((more than 99.8% it would appear) but worry that there are some assumptions made by posters here that need to be made explicit.
     
  5. Aug 7, 2005 #4

    Nereid

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    I've moved this to the Feedback section; I think it deserves a wider audience.

    (NOTE: "this subforum" refers to Academic & Career Guidance)
     
  6. Aug 7, 2005 #5
    i think that if somone asks for advice he should entail for us the details of his particular courses that he have to choose.
    because there are subjects such as maths, that a first year student should know such as linear algebra and calculus which i think is unanimous in all respected universities.
     
  7. Aug 7, 2005 #6

    matt grime

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    but, and this is the example borne out in the threads, they don't give any details abotu anything and just presume that we all understand them. suppose a student who says not where they study, or even what year they are in, asks if they need to take analysis III cos they think they might want to study PDE's later.... who knows? is analysis III even relevant to PDE's? I konw the third course i did in analysis (albeit in the second year) was about point set topology and complex analysis. Would the knowledge that if the integral round any triangle of a complex function being zero implies it is analytic (i may have misremembered morera's theorem after 8 years) be of any use to this PDE course?

    to make it "more eye openeing" what do you mean "linear algebra"? to me a course in linear algebra would start with a good treatement of the definition of an abstract vector space (ie over any field), followed by basis theorems (sylvester's law of replacement), reduced echelon form moving on to characteristic and geometric polynomials, jordan normal form, exterioir algebras and the determinant of an nxn matrix M being the unique element of the basefield D(M) such that the induced action of M on

    /\^n(V)-->/\^n(v)

    is multiplication by D(M).

    it would *not* be saying when m equations in n unkowns have a solution or finding the inverse through row operations (that is highschool maths, though i am now forced to accept that that is an old fashioned view; and i'm only 27)
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2005
  8. Aug 7, 2005 #7

    Moonbear

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    Most of the time, that's what I think they are asking. Hopefully they can read their course catalog and know what their major requirements are and what prerequisites they need for courses (if they can't, they have bigger problems). I usually take such questions to mean they are considering what to take as elective credits and are seeking advice on whether certain courses will or won't be useful to their current goals for the future. It could also be that some of these questions are coming from high school students trying to decide which college is best for them to attend, so are comparing catalogs and course offerings and trying to figure out which one is going to offer what they will need.

    I think the caveats are often borne out in the discussion. Once they get two or three replies that each conflict with one another ("Yes, you need it," "No, you don't," "It depends on your university"), it becomes pretty apparent that there is no generic right answer.

    Nonetheless, it might be prudent to add a sticky that says something like we can't be a substitute for discussing course selection with an academic advisor familiar with the requirements of the institution they are attending.

    We could require that any students asking about courses post the full catalog description of the course. It's not always ideal, but better than nothing (especially with things like Calc I, II, III that can vary in where different universities split the content, and whether they are on a semester or quarter system).
     
  9. Aug 7, 2005 #8
    good idea!
     
  10. Aug 7, 2005 #9

    matt grime

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    I'd prefer it to say "we ARE not a subsitute" rather than we can't be a substitute. but that might just be me being picky
     
  11. Aug 7, 2005 #10

    Moonbear

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    Usually I'd say it's a pretty small difference, but I think in this case, your wording is a bit better. It will help us avoid those rare cases when someone will try arguing "Why can't you be?" Less room for argument to simply state "we are not."
     
  12. Aug 7, 2005 #11

    Moonbear

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    It's actually Matt Grime's idea from the thread-starting post, I just suggested a different wording than he did there.
     
  13. Aug 11, 2005 #12

    Chronos

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    I'm very hesitant to offer advice of that kind. I fear they already have received an answer they didn't like from an advisor and are looking for an excuse to reject it. Not that advisors are infallible, but, there is a high probability they have a better informed opinion than their advisees.
     
  14. Aug 11, 2005 #13

    Moonbear

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    Honestly, if that's their reason, their mind is probably already made up and no advice is going to make them change it. If they're in college, they're adults and are responsible for their own decisions. If they would rather take the advice of strangers on the internet rather than their own academic advisors, or think they know everything and ignore the advice they receive, then they'll be the ones to live with the consequences.

    Then again, sometimes students have multiple academic advisors who give conflicting information and they need to sort out for themselves which one to listen to. I had that problem in college. I had FOUR academic advisors I had to report to, one for each of my two majors, one for the pre-med program, and one for the honors' program. I knew enough to ignore the honors' program advisor because she was an English professor and knew nothing about the science majors, but when my biology and pre-med advisors disagreed, and they often did, I was left quite on my own to decide who to listen to regarding coursework. In the end, it was the pre-med advisor I pissed off the worst, but since I wound up not going to med school anyway, I guess that didn't end up hurting me in the long run. So, I certainly can sympathize with the confused student who is looking for any source of inspiration of whose advice to follow.
     
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