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Success Without Going to Class

  1. Sep 29, 2009 #1
    This semester I found for a variety of reasons I generally prefer studying material in my classes on my own and with some online help, lectures, notes,etc. I am still in lower/middle undergrad material and I know this methodology won't work for higher level courses as well but is it ok that I am doing it now as long as I grasp the material and the the marks I'd like? Somehow it feels disingenuous or something but I really don't feel like sitting in a classroom if I don't think I have to. Any thought?
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  3. Sep 29, 2009 #2


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    Guess it depends on your way of studying, on the quality of the material you study on your own, on the quality of the teaching,...

    It is very well possible that you do better on your own than in class, if you are disciplined enough, if you have good study material and if the teaching is of mediocre quality. The danger is that you are lying to yourself.

    Probably it is a good idea, though, to go to class now and then, to find out whether you are loosing ground or not.
  4. Sep 29, 2009 #3
    Our professor stick to the given syllabus pretty well and in these classes so far i've found it highly unlikely for the professor to add insight not in the book. I'm just worried that I won't know how to cope next semester when i have to start going to class and asking lots of questions,etc.
  5. Sep 29, 2009 #4
    that could be an issue. Apart from learning one should go to lectures in order to cope with various professors (from different background and teaching style). If you don't cope now, you'll have to do it later at some point...so better well do it now, no?

    Say if you have a bad professor in one of your elementary courses and if you get used to him. You'll get used to another bad professor in higher level courses as well.
  6. Sep 29, 2009 #5


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    You have to find a system that works for you. I don't think there's anything wrong with skipping out to study on your own for the most part - so long as you find that it's working.

    One thing you might want to consider though, is how much you're paying for the class. Anyone can check a bunch of physics books out of the library, read, and solve the problems for virtually no cost. You're paying how many hundreds of dollars for the priviledge of having a PhD teach the material to you. If he or she is not providing any additional insight, you have a right to bring this up with the department and essentially demand something for your money. Even if they don't do anything about it this term, they should be made aware that there are students who are succeeding in the course without attending the lectures, which, if it happens enough, will lead to a re-evaluation of the course and instructor.

    I would hold that a professor should be infusing the lectures with material that's not in the textbook. Even at the first year level, he or she should be relating research experience and placing concepts in proper context and ideally in interesting contexts so that you're not just covering concepts, but learning why they're important.
  7. Sep 29, 2009 #6
    I made a B in calculus 2 and an A in linear algebra doing this . In both cases though, I didn't even buy the book or do homework. I had already studied it and was pretty familiar with the material.

    The reason I made a B in calculus 2 may concern you though. He changed a date on a test and I missed it as a result! Then I forgot all the formulas for curves on the analytic geometry test and was only able to remember some of them. That test replaced my zero but it wasn't a good grade. At least keep in touch with another student in the class so you know what's going on.

    On the whole though, I do better studying math on my own than in a class setting as well. They move too slowly over stuff that's obvious and just wave their hands over stuff that I want to dwell on. At least that's my experience.
  8. Sep 29, 2009 #7
    I commute 45 minutes each way to school; this leads to quit a gas drain if I drive there 5 days a week. In the past I have found people to carpool with, but this is often unreliable. I have gotten to the point where I go to class about as often as I don't. Luckily, I am very familiar with my professors and they don't require attendance whatsoever. I go to each class at least once a week just to be sure I don't miss any huge announcements.

    Personally, this has not affected me in any ill manner. I consistently score at the highest end of all tests and my assignments are always turned in ahead of schedule. However, as others have said, this requires a lot of self-discipline. I am taking all senior-level courses along with one graduate course; as long as you are disciplined, it is possible to have mediocre attendance while maintaining a 4.0 GPA as long as your professor doesn't care.

    You have to decide for yourself if you are getting what you need from a course by relying on self study for a majority of your learning. For me, it works great. If I wasn't so fanatical about my area of study, I would probably need to go to class more often. In summary: as long as you feel like you are mastering material to the same level as you would going to class, then keep on. Good luck with whatever you end up doing!
  9. Sep 29, 2009 #8


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    The number of people who can do this is very, very small. You may be one of them, but the chances are slim.

    - Warren
  10. Sep 29, 2009 #9
    I agree with chroot concerning the general population, however I think that if you were to restrict your sampling to the people that actually want to learn math then a much higher percentage of people would be able to do it. I've taught myself a fair amount of math and I'm not that intelligent. I just love math.
  11. Sep 29, 2009 #10
    Very insightful thanks, I also have a commute that is rather a pain.
  12. Sep 29, 2009 #11
    Yea I can only do this, ironically, in classes I am very interested in, in my general education class I must go or I would just lose interest. Thankfully I am about done with those.
  13. Sep 29, 2009 #12


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    The topic idea is silly. The only reasons for not attending a class are that the professor is much worse than the textbook, or you have already dropped from the course (no matter the quality of the professor) and therefore attending is optional.
  14. Sep 30, 2009 #13
    Just watch out come exam time. If you don't do well on the first set exams in a course, you should probably make a point of attending regularly and studying on your own after lecture.
  15. Sep 30, 2009 #14
    Everybody learns differently. Some people really need the lectures, some don't.

    I know that I can teach myself a topic out of a book WAY better than any one lecture would be able to do. I still go to class though, but I don't take notes, I just watch.

    And, for the record, I'm basing this off of senior level courses like analysis and PDEs, not some simple calculus I class.
  16. Sep 30, 2009 #15
    Ya. I got through all my undergrad basically without going to class and just learning from the textbook. Now that I'm in grad I go to most of my classes because the profs notice/care if I don't but I don't really find it the least bit helpful. I take notes because that seems like what you do in class and then I never look at them again and I still end up just reading the textbook by myself to actually learn the material.
  17. Sep 30, 2009 #16
    I totally agree, the notes in class thing never made much sense to me I find it much more effective to take notes when your reading just to reinforce the ideas, I agree though I never re-read them, isn't that what the book is for!!
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