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I feel like I'll be behind if I start out in Calc I

  1. Jul 21, 2010 #1
    I just got back from engineering orientation, and it seems that EVERYONE is using their AP credits for Calc classes. Lots of people are starting out in Calc III, and some are starting in Calc II. The dual-enrollment kids are starting out in differential equations. AP Calculus BC wasn't offered at my school, so I've only taken AB. I got a 4 on the test which allows me to start in Calc II.

    However, I'm not sure that I'm confident enough in my calculus knowledge (started the class in early Feb. and took the test in early May) to completely skip the class. But, I already feel like I'm behind everyone else who's not second guessing their knowledge.

    I do want to completely understand the foundation, and I was also thinking that it could help balance out my GPA a little bit.

    Am I wrong in wanting to take Calc I? My advisor said it was "up to me," but I really have no idea where I should be.

    I'm taking Physics I which requires having already completed Calc I, but my advisor said that that was fine since I already have the credit..
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2010 #2
    Look at it this way, everyone is going to graduate within 4 years and I don't know what the good reasons are for completing your bachelor earlier than someone else's. I doubt grad school will look at you differently if you completed your bachelor in 3 years.

    No difference in my opinion.
  4. Jul 21, 2010 #3
    yea but saving a few semesters/quarters might let someone grab a minor to supplement their resume.

    CalcII can be tough, if you aren't 100% confident in your abilities, you might want to just take CalcI again. Since it will be mostly review, it wouldn't hurt if you you can take a few extra hours of general req's to get them out of the way.
  5. Jul 21, 2010 #4
    Hm, I haven't heard what employers think of 3 v. 4 v. 5 years to graduate. I definitely plan on doing some summer internships.

    I plan on minoring in physics which shouldn't be too tough, especially since I'm starting the sequence now (my first year will be the same as a physics, math, chemistry, and engineering major's are). A physics minor requires 17 hours of coursework at my school, and by the end of freshman year I'll have 8. That's just 3 extra classes, which seem to all interest me greatly. :)

    I've already gotten a bit of the gen req's out of the way from APs...a history, english, and psychology. Those I'll definitely use the credit for. =D

    I suppose that I can also use the "easy" time to search out a possible research position. Perhaps I'll find a prof kind enough to let me clean their lab.
  6. Jul 21, 2010 #5
    You're in no way disadvantaged or behind. Take what you need to take and get some research experience.
  7. Jul 21, 2010 #6
    Calculus is the foundation for a lot of what you're going to do. Build a good foundation and start in Calc 1. If you really want to make up that lost time, take a summer class or two one summer, and you'll be exactly where you would have been.
  8. Jul 21, 2010 #7
    I often think that before taking almost any engineering/physics courses, a person needs to have an A+ knowledge of the math that will be used. A 4/5 seems not so rock solid, so I'd definitely retake calc I if I were in your shoes, or at the very least, do some intense studying during the summer to freshen up on your knowledge paired with online lectures on the topic from academicearth or something similar.
  9. Jul 24, 2010 #8


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    When I took Calc I, there were some high school grads in there who were eligible to take Calc II but took Calc I instead to possibly get an easy A. None of them got A's, in fact almost all of them struggled to get C's (possibly because homework wasn't collected so no one did them).
    I started out in Trig when I went to CC and worked my way up (Pre-Calc, Calc I, Calc II). I'm transferring this Fall but won't be taking Calc III until Spring (classes were full in the Fall). I'm definitely behind in math/physics courses but I transferred with a decent GPA (3.82) so all is well
  10. Jul 24, 2010 #9
    Hm. I am definitely going to do my homework, but I've heard stories like these where those who could have placed out probably would have done better in a higher level class. I'm pretty sure I'm going to stay in Calc I. Nice job on your transfer. :)
  11. Jul 24, 2010 #10
    That's an hilarious joke.
  12. Jul 24, 2010 #11
    meh, I don't see why you should worry at all. Just as a personal experience, i just finished my first year of physics and i've never taken any AP/IB or similar classes in high school, whereas many if not most of them already had AP credit for Calc I and chemistry. Even though I had to take all those courses, I still ended up with a 4.0 GPA.

    The fact that colleges and universities allow students to start-up at Calc III is worrisome to me. At my university you can only get AP credit for Calc I (or Applied Calc I), yet many of my peers that were eligible for this ended up taking the course anyway. At the end, they had to work and study just as much as I did.

    Finally, in regards to employers I am sure no one really cares if you finish in 3, 4, 5 or 6 years. Yes it might be a reason of pride for a student to finish early, but putting something like that in your resume would almost as silly as including your high school honor roll awards.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2010
  13. Jul 24, 2010 #12


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    You should take Calc 1, to get a solid math background. Don't worry that so many are skipping it, I bet several will regret it. It's so important to have your math knowledge solid.

    I understand many people have financial pressure to get through school quickly, but don't rush just for the sake of rushing. Remember, it's not a race.
  14. Jul 24, 2010 #13


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    University is not a race.

    Try to avoid situations where you're in over your head.
  15. Jul 25, 2010 #14
    Are you sure you're not exaggerating the amount of students skipping Calc I?
  16. Jul 25, 2010 #15
    Thanks for the reassurance, everyone. I definitely value your opinions more than I value those kids who just want to get ahead and don't really know what they're doing. My adviser is sooo busy now, she hasn't answered her emails that I sent (about other, more important things!)
  17. Jul 25, 2010 #16
    math is my good subject, always has always will. I just breezed through calc 1 no problem. However due to some stupid mistakes freshman year of college and way back in eight grade I started college in College Algebra (which is actually one level under what I took in HS). The only AP credit I came in with that was actual useful was a history credit.

    Although the two extra classes I had to take (agebra and precalculus) were incredibley easy with material I've already been taught. It was still very helpful. I started calculus with two precalculus sections under my belt. I remembered and knew how to do alot of stuff my classmates forgot.

    So I'm about to start my sophomore year and I will be taking calc II. Looking at the course schedule and guidelines as long as I finish all my maths and physics by the start of junior year I'll be fine. Although I've seen a couple of students that I graduated HS with that are a whole year ahead of me math, I've also seen a ton of students that are at my level or 1 up. Summer classes help to catch up.

    So its perfectly fine to be in your situation the only advantage that the other have is that they might have room for error (i.e. failing a class and being forced to retake) or room for some extra classes.

    So I plan on finishing in four years but I'm not afraid to take 5. That extra year could be used to take some interesting electives and get more internships which will make me more marketable than the people who flew through college and finished in 4 or less years.
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