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I have been out of school for years, can I still pick up where I left off ?

  1. Jul 6, 2012 #1
    I left school in the middle of transferring from my junior college to a four year to join the Marine Corps in 2007. I had acceptance letters to multiple schools (UCSC,UCI,UCSD,UCSB) but I opted to do combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan instead. As of right now, I feel like I've really screwed myself over in the long term, now that I'm out of the Marines and dying to jump back into school.

    Before I left, I had completed mostly general ed courses as well as completing general chem, Calc 2, and the first installment of physics for scientists and engineers. My questions for guidance are:
    Will I be able to "survive" the future engineering courses if I continue where I left off with a very fuzzy memory of the courses I did in the past?
    How heavily do the upper division courses rely on recalling detailed information from previous courses?
    Am i better off starting all over again from the beginning to make sure I get a strong grasp of the basics again (i.e. Calculus)?

    As of right now I'm going back to my Junior College for the fall and (If I choose) the schools I've applied for are willing to honor my old acceptance letters and accept me in the Spring.

    I originally applied to all these schools as a Bioengineering Major but as of right now I'm just not sure what I want to do in engineering anymore. I've been so out of focus in regards to school and so focused on being a good Marine that I'm so lost as this is all hitting me all at once. I want to combine my love of the ocean, marine biology, principle of engineering, and mechanics.

    All input is greatly appreciated.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2012 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    No. Everything builds on that foundation, and if the foundation is shaky, you won't be able to build on it effectively.
  4. Jul 6, 2012 #3


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    All of the schools you got into are very good. Your competition will be significant, but you have the advantages of maturity, perspective, and experience. If you back up a bit and solidify the basics, you'll enter with school skills and confidence as well.
  5. Jul 7, 2012 #4
    If you retake your calc courses and physics courses then you should be in a good position to be successful.

    You might not even have to retake the courses formally. Open up a textbook and start working through some things, if it comes back easily then it might be more efficient to just refresh it yourself. I use calculus all the time in my engineering classes. The material learned in the intro physics courses is mostly retaught anyway (in different ways) but those courses are good for teaching you problem solving which you've probably lost the intuition for.
  6. Jul 7, 2012 #5
    I would suggest just taking them over again. I went back to school after 6 years off. It's definitely not easy. You forget a lot of material you've previously learned and forget what it is like to have to do homework and classwork all over again. On the other hand I got much better at doing lab work over that period of time.
  7. Jul 7, 2012 #6
    I was in similar position as you. Do not retake anything! It's a waste of time and money. Going to class is the most inefficient way of learning a subject. Instead, get a text book or two and go to iTunesU or OCW Courseware to watch Calculus and other courses from MIT, etc. They have problem sets, old exams and everything there. If you run into difficulties, post here in the HW section. There are many knowledgeable people on this forum. That will give you a solid background if you work thoroughly.
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