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Schools How hard IS University?

  1. Nov 3, 2004 #1
    I'm working on pursuing a degree in mathematics, and I've noticed something.

    It's only my first semester, but, well, University is just as easy as high school. Maybe easier. Quite frankly, this is starting to scare me. I've always heard that University requires 20 hours a day of going to lectures and studying, but I've been slacking off, and getting all As and the occasional B. Is it because at this point I'm taking mostly introductory courses, or what?

    By the way, I'm really not trying to brag, it just seems odd to me. I mean, I look at some of the things discussed in these forums, and some things I see in mathworld, and they are miles ahead of me, and yet the stuff I'm doing now is largely stuff that was covered in high school.

    I am prepared to work harder. I *want* to work harder. Is it going to get tougher, and I'll look back and laugh at thinking this way, or is it like high school - total bull****? Because I got more or less straight A's in high school, and rarely even went to class, and didn't study once. I usually did drugs and hung out in the music room talking to my friends. It was a very dull existence.

    I ask this because one of the things that kept me going in high school - or at least, going as much as I did - was the "knowledge" that University would be a really challenge, and I would learn all kinds of new interesting things - all that stuff I keep seeing about topological spaces and such. So, did any of you find that it got harder as you went, or was it always hard? Or always easy?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 3, 2004 #2
    Yes it gets harder, but alot of it depends on where you go and at what level. The first year is always mostly review and things you should know about already. The next few years shouldn't be terrible, but atleast challenging as you move up the ladder, I doubt you had any quantum physics in high school, you'll likely get that in your 3rd or 4th year at college. Once you get to grad school and phd is where all the fun begins... I think... :wink:
  4. Nov 3, 2004 #3


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    As far as I can tell, they tell you that it's hard and all that, partially because they want to entice you to choose their program, by making it sound challenging, and partly because it's true. It really depends though. I was told the same thing, 25+ hours of lectures, 25+ hours of homework, and it will be hard, and expect your marks to be 10-20% lower than high school, etc. None of that came true. I was in what was supposed to be a very hard program, it turned out that I could get good marks and not have to work terribly hard at all, spending a lot of time slacking and playing computer games, etc.

    On the other hand (and this is why I say it depends), there are people who probably found high school similar to me, able to get good marks with medium effort, and then found that they had to go to all 25 hours of lectures, spent late nights working, and still found their marks went down. So, in my experience, it largely depends on the high school you go to, I would think.
    It should get better in later years. For one, you'll no longer be taking introductory courses. Second, the material will naturally get harder, and three, I think the courses will be made harder because in first year, they have to accomodate for the wide range of abilities, and after a bunch of people drop or fail, then the next year, you have, on average, more competent students.
  5. Nov 4, 2004 #4
    Well, I know Calculus I is required by almost all departments, except for the fine arts ones. All the sciences, all the buisnesses, engineers, etc.. have to take it. So maybe Calculus II will be a little more fun.

    Anyway, thanks for your suport all.

    The really good thing I've noticed about University is that nobody makes you go to lectures, and the library is HUGE.

    These two things together mean that if you really are fairly smart, you actually can learn some stuff, which is harder to do in high school.
  6. Nov 4, 2004 #5
    I feel the same way. And whenever things get tough, I think to myself that other people have learned and understood this, why can't I? These things aren't rules out of thin air [unless you're taking chemistry, then everything is all over the place.. I hate chemistry! :D] - they actually make logical sense. Just ask myself what I dont know and learn it. Simple as cake!
  7. Nov 5, 2004 #6


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    as far as i can tell from the opening post of this thread the user "deadwolf" is pursuing a mathematics degree, he didnt mention that he also takes physics courses.
    but ofcourse you might know something i dont, do you? :uhh:
  8. Nov 6, 2004 #7
    Yes, I am pursuing mathematics....

    ...not everyone here is in it for the physics, but to be fair, it is PHYSICSforums.

    Anyhow, thanks for the responses.

    And, as it happens, I DO plan to take some physics courses next semester.
  9. Nov 6, 2004 #8


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    so greg did know something i didnt. :surprised (just kidding).
  10. Nov 8, 2004 #9


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    What university do you go to?
  11. Nov 8, 2004 #10
    University of Calgary.

    I could've gotten in someplace better, but I have emotional troubles, and I didn't want to move out just yet.
  12. Nov 8, 2004 #11
    As for math, i think youll find that it doesn't require extroardinary amounts of time until probably after your done with your calculus classes, and maybe after Differential Equations too. I think youll find it more challenging when you get into your upper division classes past those.

    Like the others already said though, schools tend to make the higher level schools sound very intimidating. They did this before high school too, I am sure you remember? It is never as hard as teachers would like you to believe. If nothing else, its a whole lot more fun, so do some partying while your not studying :).

    Aren't I a good influence?

  13. Nov 8, 2004 #12
    A degree in Mathematics, well you see my friend is in first year at uni and majoring stats. As far as i can tell you his math, Differential Calculus honours version is a very difficult first year course. He has been struggling throught the first sememster, even tho in high school his avg. in calc was above 95%. So basically it all depends on your university and the major, but eventually it will get harder. Goodluck..
  14. Nov 8, 2004 #13

    Do you have any idea what he's doing in that class?

    I find it hard to believe that anyone who did well in high school math could really find Calculus I a struggle if they tried.
  15. Nov 8, 2004 #14


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    In my experience, it's all about high school. If you had a good high school, and you did well, then you'll be able to deal with "hard" material, and you'll probably well prepared such that you already know half of the material. If you came from a not-so-good school, most everything in first year Calc might seem new and hard. That's my experience. I was in a program where most people probably had 90-100% in high school calc, and first year calc varied from 40-100 I would think. And there will be people who got 95 in h.s. calc and 60 in first year calc, and others who got 90 in h.s. calc and 90 in first year calc.

    One good example of that is what happened in Ontario last year, the "double cohort" year. Grade 12 graduates mostly never learnt integration, OAC graduates did, and so you can immediately see why the h.s. experience gave a distinct advantage to OAC students taking first year calc.
  16. Nov 10, 2004 #15
    it depends alot on the style of your professor. if they're very strict or very generous with partial credit. when your problems take a page of math, it's possible that you will make a simple error, while trying frantically to solve 12 problems in 1 hour.

    i am working 40 hours a week putting myself through school. with calc 2, physics 1, and a full time professional job i find it very stressfull. if i didn' thave to work it'd be a cakewalk.

    in my high school i did almost all of calc 1 and 2, but i never really was taught what the hell was going on. you learn how to do the problems, but if you want to pursue this stuff you want an intimate understanding. after this semester, every higher math class i will take will be new. ( i never did vector calculus / diff EQ in high school)

    once you start taking 300+ level classes (relatively soon i'd imagine) you'll start to at least have to learn something new. which for me, means plenty of homework to do. that's the most challenging part as far as i'm concerned. taking the time to practise.
  17. Nov 10, 2004 #16

    Math Is Hard

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    It scares the heck out of me. I did great in my lower division university classes (freshman and sophomore level) but I am getting into my upper division courses now, and I am wondering if I'll get eaten alive. :surprised
  18. Nov 12, 2004 #17
    university is easy. i gets hard, but, if you've been paying any sort of attention, it's not beyond capability.

    i never learned algebra (high school dropout), but, weaseled my way into calculus and ended up with the highest grade in the class (97% avg), taught by a wonderful professor who was very strict and known to be the most demanding in the math dept, learning algebra in the margins of my notebooks by working made up examples. while mine is a sort of non-traditional case, what i mean to get at, is that it's not like you will wlak into class and have no idea what's going on from the beginning.

    two things i would like to say though. some people are morons. they are the ones who study 25 hours a week, lead the study groups, and always whine about class being hard. they always end up getting a b- in the class. there are the ones who thoughtfully look at the stuff and can end up studying 1/5 of the time adn get very good marks.

    also, there are two schools fo thought to follow. one, you can always look to get good marks. this is easy, ti's like, meta-class thinking. read the professor, always ask what is going to be on teh test adn what the prof wants. you will probalby get good marks. teh other school of thought is, you are truly interested in the mathematics, and take a great interest in learning. you may not care what is going ot be on the test, and just do some examples and then move on to other mor interesting problems. you will do better, i think, forgetting that you are getting graded. if you don't know how to do a problem on a test, because you were busy reading about mathematics in a journal or a book about it, you will have the ability to solve that problem using what you know. that is what math is all about, and you will also see you get a good grades without thinkign about it.
  19. Nov 15, 2004 #18
    Interesting thoughts trancefishy.

    I've always subscribed to the same school of thought as you - ignoring the strcuture of the class, and not worry about practicing too much, instead opting to learn on my own.

    But I've also learned that sometimes this can lead to holes in your knowledge, and abilities. You often don't do enough problems, because you know the ideas, but as a result you are slower than people who've practiced a lot. And in general, it's easier to forget what you've learned because you haven't made enough mental connections with actual examples. And as well, when you study things on your own, it's easy to miss out on the insight a teacher can give.

    Sometimes (although not all that often) the profs and teachers really do know more than you.
  20. Nov 16, 2004 #19
    Hey Deadwolfe I am also a mathematics major, although I am getting a degree in computer science as well, this means I don't need to take certain classes a "pure" math major would take, but I still take the core math major courses.

    Anyways it becomes more involved as you go along and it definitely becomes more interesting. As you progress, if you want to get A's, I find I have to do my homework and put the time in. I don't know of anyone at my school, taking the courses I am taking, who get's A and doesn't put the time in, but I'm sure it's possible. At the beginning of my studies I never did my homework and got by with A's, but once I started taking upper level coursework I had to start doing my homework to get A's. Now I actually go through the lecture notes(including proofs), read the textbook and work through the examples and proofs in it, and do all the homework problems.

    One example for me was when I took advanced calculus. I had gone through calculus 1, 2, and 3 and gotten all A's, scoring 100% on every exam in calculus 3. Anyways advanced calculus made me realize that I did not know calculus as well as I thought I did and I had to revisit many many topics. It was a great experience and I ended up getting an A and most of all it made my calculus very strong!

    Anyways I think you will enjoy it more as you go along in your studies:)
  21. Nov 26, 2004 #20
    yes, it really does depend on the school you went to and the school your presently going to.. my h.s. calc and physics teacher was a warlord and gave us gruesomely long assignments every night..of course this paid off in college, calc I was a breeze!
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