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Switching Math Sections

  1. Jan 5, 2008 #1
    Hi everyone. Last semester I took a "fast" section of Real Analysis I (Rudin) and struggled immensely. In class, I often felt like I somehow got lost in the details and missed out on what each theorem was actually doing--i.e. the big picture. And I was not great with the details. Most other kids seemed to be able to keep up, but I often stared at my notes trying to figure out how certain steps followed.

    When doing problem sets, I started as soon as possible but usually ended up getting nowhere and feeling discouraged. Throughout the semester I relied on friends, the TA, problem sessions to grind my way through each set. By the end of the semester I almost never slept on the night before a set was due. Part of the problem was that problem sessions were always on the night before the set was due and, by relying on them when doing my sets, I always ended up pulling miserable all-nighters.

    I kept plugging away like this throughout the semester, spending a lot of my time in the library looking at math, because I thought I was still capable. I mean, I thought I was doing bad because either I was not trying hard enough or I had a confidence/psychological issue or something. Sometimes, even really easy/obvious problems escaped me so when I finally saw it I just thought this was just my mind playing with me.

    In the end I made it through the course with a bad grade and now have to decide whether to keep taking this fast section or not. I felt I've learned a lot from the class. And I liked the class for the fact that the teacher/TA really cared about the students and were organized. If I switch I feel like I'm going to regret missing the chance to learn more. I'm also concerned that I won't be able to adjust as easily to other sections because they cover slightly different material.

    At the same time, in the fast section, I always felt I was behind the other students. I hated having to rely on other people on almost all of my problems--I mean, I want to be able to solve problems for myself. Also, the class began to take all of my time. While math is interesting, I also hope to pursue other interests while at college, so I don't want go through another semester like my last. Of course, in the slower section,
    I have higher hopes for my grade as well.

    Is it possible that I struggled in my previous class because I was was, um, sort of "psyching" myself out? Would a change to a slower section be a solution to this situation?

    Anyways, can anyone pass along any advice, comments, or experiences about this situation? Sorry for long post.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 8, 2008 #2


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    It's hard to give advice here without actually knowing you. Have you tried speaking to your professor and academic advisor(s) about the situation? They could offer some valuable help.

    Also, have you tried using a different textbook?
  4. Jan 12, 2008 #3
    I'd be really hesitant to stay in the fast section. What does analysis II cover? If they're teaching multivariable/differential forms/lebesgue integrals out of rudin, I'd get the heck out. If you thought chapters 1-7 were hard, you have no idea.

    If analysis II moves onto measure theory out of a different book, you're also sunk. It relies on a 100% mastery of basic real analysis.

    If analysis II moves in a different direction (e.g. MIT's analysis II is completely different than analysis I), you may have a chance.
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