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Need help deciding to stay as a math major

  1. May 11, 2010 #1
    Well I am a freshman college student and I took Calc2 in the fall and got an A in the course. I then took Calc3 this Spring. I was doing fairly well in the course. The both midterms I got the third highest grade in the class of thirty something students (and the class had a lot of students who were retaking the course). So I took my final exam which was worth 70% of my final course grade. I was exceptionally nervous about the test and when I got the exam I forgot almost everything I learned the entire semester and everything I had studied. I had a hard time doing any of the problems. I ended up failing the final exam, and I received a D in the course (which did wonders to my GPA).
    I feel like I should just give up my hopes on being a Math major? I know that my chances of attending grad school are gone, and that maybe I am not intelligent to pursue college Math any further.
    I just need some advice on making a decision before I sign up for courses next semester.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 11, 2010 #2
    Just retake the course. You said others were doing it.
  4. May 11, 2010 #3
    One failed course wont hurt your grad school application as long as you retake the course and do well. They mostly care about overal GPA and in particular you're last two years of school.

    In regards to whether you should switch, it seems like you were doing well in the beginning part of the course and just freaked out on the exam. These things happen and can be fixed.

    Sometimes people fail, and you shouldn't give up just because you failed one course.
  5. May 12, 2010 #4
    Depends why you bombed it. Do you know the mnemonic for integrating by parts, or do you understand integration by parts?
  6. May 12, 2010 #5


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    Truth be told, calc 3 isn't very representative of math courses overall. It is full of nasty, grungy calculations that many people do not enjoy (even in many cases the teaching assistants assigned to the course!)

    In my opinion, once you are over the calc 3 hurdle, the rest of the undergraduate math curriculum is a lot more interesting.

    Charles Pugh, professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley, may well have had calc 3 in mind when he wrote these words, which appear on the back cover of his "Real Mathematical Analysis":

    "Was plane geometry your favorite math course in high school? Did you like proving theorems? Are you sick of memorizing integrals? If so, real analysis could be your cup of tea. In contrast to calculus and elementary algebra, it involves neither formula manipulation nor applications to other fields of science. None. It is pure mathematics, and it is sure to appeal to the budding pure mathematician."

    The same can well be said about much of the math curriculum once you are past the calculus sequence. I would highly recommend against deciding to give up on math until you take at least one "pure" math course. Try linear algebra.
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