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Admissions Transfering from CC, got a C in calc2. Am I screwed?

  1. Dec 9, 2016 #1
    I want to major in computer and electrical engineering physics. I don't actually know much about the specifics, but I've been an electrical engineering hobbyist since high school, I built my own desktop computer and enjoy programing in C++, and I study some physics in my free time. All I know is that these are my absolute favorite things and a major in all 3 would probably fit me well.

    I didn't have much direction in high school. I got straight A's freshmen year, but my family imploded and I just gave up on school. I pretty much intentionally got D's in everything but math and science. My senior year I decided physics was for me so I got my act together and graduated with a 4.0 that year. Unfortunately because of my average GPA I wasn't really suited for going directly to a decent UC (I live in California). I also didn't really have the money and wasn't quite ready to leave home yet. I went to the local community college.

    I've been working about 10 hours a week and taking between 17 and 19 (the maximum) units each semester. I spend a good 40-50 hours a week on studying/class/etc. First semester I got all As except for a B in Spanish. It's a 5 unit class so my GPA tanked to a 3.7. I really had no excuse for this except that I didn't give it maximum effort. Next semester was the same, all As and one B. This time in calc 1. It was a genuinely challenging class and all online as well. I had to teach myself everything and I was the only calc 1 student so I had nobody to study with. I settled for the B and once again vowed to do better next semester.

    This brings me to this semester, calc 2. I'm not sure if quarters are different, but I did integrals, separable diffeqs, and volume/areas of revolution in calc 1. Calc 2 was infinite series, advanced integration, some diffeqs, parametric equations, polar coordinates and the sort. I bombed EVERY test. D, A, D, F, and the only reason I got that A was because the practice test was identical to the actual one and I had most of them memorized. I finished the class with a 70.07%, narrowly passing. I also got a B in English 101 so now I believe I'm pretty much screwed.

    These grades arn't all that's holding me back, my CC offers basically none of my major prep. My only physics credits are from a 4 on the high school AP test (only 3 of 30 kids passed, if that's significant). I don't have chem done and I should have been on my 4th calc class by now. My major prep is weak. I was also bombed with 5 finals the same week applications were due, so my essays were kinda weak as well. I should have done them months in advance but I had no idea how applications worked.

    I've applied to some UCs, UC San Diego, Berkeley, Davis, Santa Cruz, and Irvine. SD is my top choice, but I don't think it's possible for me to get in on such an impacted major anymore. Berkeley was unrealistic from the start, but I thought I'd apply anyway. My back up is UN Reno, since it's closest to home, has my major, and offers in state tuition to Cali students. Also it's app deadline is in July so I can write a decent personal statement.

    If that massive wall of text means anything to you, I could use some advice for next semester. I'm enrolled in 19 units with calc 3. I'm worried that since I bombed calc 2 so bad, calc 3 will be too much for me on a full schedule. I enrolled in a 4 unit astronomy class that isn't entirely necessary, although my alternative major is astrophysics. Should I drop it to spend more time on math? Should I retake calc 2 as well? I want to what's best for my ability to transfer.

    Aside from all that, I'd like to know what you think my odds are of getting into UCSD if you'd like to take a guess. And if you know anything about majoring in EC engineering physics I'd appreciate some insight.

    If you were able to read all that, I really appreciate you giving your time, and thanks in advance for any advice.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 9, 2016 #2


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    I don't know how much good advice I can give, but I do have a question: Why are you taking so many units each semester? I think you will be better off taking a more normal course load so that you have time to actually learn the material that all of your future education will build upon. Beyond whether or not you get accepted to schools, you should be at least as concerned that you will have the background required to succeed once you get there.

    Your situation is not hopeless, and I know successful engineers for whom math was not their best subject. HOwever, you really do need to learn calculus well enough so that you can learn the engineering you are interested in.

    I recommend speaking with your advisor as soon as possible. Be candid about how much of calculus 2 you understood, and listen to their advice. They will likely have seen many students struggle with various subjects and helped set them on the right path. Also, they will have experience working with students that started at your community college and transfered to various UC campuses.

  4. Dec 9, 2016 #3

    Stephen Tashi

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    Your description of you studies is focused on grades and not on how well you've learned the material. For example, how well do you speak Spanish? Did you eventually understand the material on the math tests you bombed?

    The experience of most students is that they understand some of the material in math course X, but don't "master" it. They begin to understand the material in course X better when they do related work in math course X+1 or in a physics course that uses the math from course X. However, if your hardly understood anything at all about course X and passed the tests by using rote memorization then you don't have the basic foundation to expand upon.

    The question of re-taking calculus 2 is both a question of tactical paperwork (i.e. will your transcript look better) and a question of how well you understand the material in calculus 2.

    I'm not familiar with educational institutions you mention except to hear their names, so I can't advise you about whether you will or will not be admitted to them. My general impression is that you tend to take more courses than you can handle.
  5. Dec 9, 2016 #4


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    You have about a zero percent chance getting into any of the UCs currently. You're no where near completing your assist.org prep, or possibly even your igetc.

    Basically, Berkeley threw your application in trash. They even state in several places if you haven't finished major prep, don't apply. So you just wasted money there. The rest of the UCs receive applicants with all of their assist.org work done, so you're likely at the very bottom of the list. (Not getting in)

    3.5 GPA is recommended for UCSD, you probably have another year at CC to finish prep work, so you should be able to improve to that.
  6. Dec 9, 2016 #5
    You need to understand the fundamentals of everything you learn in calculus, but don't expect to be comfortable with it until you've had at least one or two classes that used it (integration didn't become easy for me until differential equations). My best advice is to ask yourself whether, with more general exposure, you'd get a hang of it, or if you just stumbled through the course and have no idea what was happening. If it's the latter, you should probably retake it. And there's nothing wrong with that. I've retaken several courses I didn't get the first time around.
  7. Dec 9, 2016 #6
    There's a few reasons for this. I wanted to show the UCs that I'm capable of a heavy course load and that I could be successful in upper division classes. I also wanted to bet my IGETC course requirements done ASAP. Right now I have 3 IGETC courses remaining which will be no trouble at all next semester. I wanted to get my associates in 4 semesters and no more. I could get my associates right now, but I'm staying for those 3 courses and some major prep, being calc 3 and astronomy. Another reason for this is that my CC offers full scholarships to all local students with a 2.0+GPA, so I want to take advantage of the free education as much as I can.

    I wasn't too concerned with that Spanish class because I took two years of it in high school. By the end of that class I was basically fluent, but since then I haven't used it much. I can still read spanish and understand most people if they speak slowly but I can't speak it anymore. I didn't take the class too seriously because I thought it would be easier than it was, that's why I got the B. As for the math, calc 1 would be an easy A at this point. Like you said, I didn't really master it until I learned to apply it to the next class. If I went back and took all those calc 2 tests I bombed right now I could probably get at least Cs in all, even the last one. I plan on doing a few hours a day on Kahn academy over the 5 week winter break to solidify whatever I leaned, but at the moment I wouldn't consider myself proficient.

    I was told by the counselors that because the school, or any other within a 4 hour commute, didn't offer pretty much any of the assist.org prep, the UCs wouldn't hold it against me. As for IGETC, I'm on pace to cover that with an extra 8 courses on top. It's only 34 units and I'm on pace to finish CC with 78, 74 of which are transferable.

    I'm going to send my calc 2 prof an email to see what he thinks about retaking it. He just sent out an email to the class saying he dropped everyone's lowest exam score, so that means I got pretty close to a B in the class. That doesn't change anything, but I feel like a bit less of a failure.
  8. Dec 9, 2016 #7
    Here's the thing, though, you're not doing this right now, and you're doing yourself a disservice by continuing to try to do it. It is significantly more important to actually understand the material and be prepared for the upper level courses than it is to try to rush through for some appearance of being able to handle a lot, especially since you're not actually succeeding in giving that appearance. Taking Calc 3 in a full course load when you barely understood Calc 2 is a terrible idea. Slow down.
  9. Dec 10, 2016 #8


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    What CC are you at now? Do they offer physics, you still need to take it if so. UCSD at least doesn't accept AP credit, at least they didn't when I was there if I remember right.

    Linear algebra? Calc 3, diffyq? Do they have those classes? Still need those.

    How are you on pace for 70+ if you've already applied? There's on semester left.
  10. Dec 17, 2016 #9

    Coursera offers a free online version of Calculus 2. Take it. Get those Calc 2 skills up to where they need to be before moving on.

    If you had a really hard grader and the C represents a fairly good learning, you will breeze through the Coursera Calc 2 easily.

    If you still have to learn a lot of material, it will take more work, but you need to grow in those skills and in your mathematical maturity before moving on.

    19 semester hours is waaaaaay too much for a struggling student. Until you are consistently earning better grades, I tend to recommend 12-14.
  11. Dec 17, 2016 #10


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    Obviously, this strategy backfired on your, didn't it?

    This is one of the worst reasons I've read on why someone would take such a heavy course load. And frankly, I am surprised your advisor would let you do such a thing without trying to talk you out of it. It is a different story if you are an excellent student and can handle the course workload. But there's nothing here to indicate that you are.

    And because you focused so much on quantity, you sacrificed quality. And the idea that just because your instructor will drop the lowest exam score and might prop you up to a higher grade is a smoke screen. Even if you got a "B" in the class, do you think you have that level of understanding on the subject matter? You are forgetting that this class is needed as a TOOL to be used in other classes. Think of how much you will struggle when you are not proficient in using such a tool when the course expects you to know it.

    Many of the well-known UC schools are very "unforgiving" in the sense that most of your fellow students are some of the smartest kids around. These are the people you will be competing with in your classes and who you will be judged against. Your instructors there will neither have the time nor the inclination to teach you background materials that you should already know.

    It is up to you think judge for yourself if you are ready to face such a situation.

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