Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Prospective Math Major Advice

  1. Aug 3, 2011 #1
    I'm starting my fourth semester at the local community college soon and I plan to transfer to a university next fall. At our community college, the advisers have you take precalculus algebra immediately if you place out of all remedial math. We aren't given the option to take calculus immediately unless you've taken AP Calculus in high school. To make a long story short, I have had to take two semesters of precalculus (Precalc algebra and trig are offered only as two separate courses) before I could take calculus 1. I did, however, manage to take applied calculus the same time as precalc trig because it didn't have the trig class as a prereq. I did very well in all the classes and I want to major in math, but I feel that I am at a big disadvantage because I wasn't able to take calculus 1 until my sophomore year. I hate the feeling that I'm always playing catch up. I find it hard to think of myself as a competent math person when I am a semester behind the recommended math sequence for a math major. Am I too far behind, or can I still be a successful math major despite the late start in calculus?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2011 #2
    Re: Advice for a Prospective Math Major

    Of course you can still do well!! You'll only have a bit of a delay in analysis courses, but not all math courses depend on calculus, you know?

    You can take linear algebra, abstract algebra and many other math courses without having taken calculus. As long as you start your proof-based classes on time, you should be fine.

    Perhaps it might even be a good idea to self-study some calculus...
  4. Aug 4, 2011 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Re: Advice for a Prospective Math Major

    Compared with most mathematics majors, I started late with Calculus I as well so I understand your situation. I've decided to take differential equations, linear algebra, and calculus III in the same semester. Most students (according to my adviser) choose to finish calculus III and then take LA and DiffEq's concurrently. I'll also be taking some of the summer math courses that are available.

    Meet with your adviser before the start of every semester and you should be fine.
  5. Aug 4, 2011 #4
    When I started college, I started at a community college. I wanted to transfer to a university and major in History. I needed just one math class for this. At the time, I was in the same position as you seem to describe. I had to take College Algebra before I could take anything else, and I wasn't planning on taking anything else.

    I had always planned to go to graduate school, and sometime during that first semester, I decided to change majors to Econ. To do this, I needed Calculus. So, I took pre-calc and then Calc. I was hooked when I took Calc. I decided to change majors to math and I will graduate in May likely with highest honors.

    The moral of the story is that you are not too far behind. Now, it could possibly take another year to complete your BS, but so what? You'll have a lot of fun doing it.
  6. Aug 4, 2011 #5


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    S Burchette, you already have a thread about this. Why did you create another one?
  7. Aug 4, 2011 #6
    You're fine. You can always take a summer or winter session course. Just one makes a HUGE difference in your schedule for the next semester. Calculus I was a prerequisite for every single one of my classes this semester... except Judo. I just finished up Calc I during a summer session.

    Also, here's another random bit of advice. Never, under any circumstances, tell any of your math professors that you are a math major, ever.
  8. Aug 4, 2011 #7
    I apologize, after I posted the first time I realized there was a sections that was for academic advice, so I thought my question would be better answered in that section.
  9. Aug 5, 2011 #8
    I disagree with 1MileCrash about telling your profs that you are a math major. I guess you have had a bad experience doing this, Crash? :)

    We have to take an applied combo. class and the CS to Math student ration is about a bizillion to one. In a class of 60+ people, there were only 3 of us math majors. As a side note, its fun to watch the CS kids squirm and the mere mention of the word "proof."

    The instructor was technically a grad student (he had defended his dissertation the day before class started) so I haven't had this experience with an "acutal" (whatever I mean by that) prof, but this is a fun story: One of his assignments was to write a paper about how we could use the stuff that we learned in combo. in our careers (assuming we were all CS guys). I told him that I wasn't a CS major and I intended to go to graduate school in math and that I didn't know what to write. So, he let me out of the paper and I did another regular math assignment.

    So, for me it worked out well, at least this one time. Do you mind if I ask what your experience was, Crash?
  10. Aug 5, 2011 #9
    Nothing really bad, but in smaller classes you're likely to become the pet, and your classmates will hate you. Also, in lower level courses I was the only math major every time.

    A lot was expected out of me too.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook