Skipping Over Classes

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P13808
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Skipping Over Classes

Postby P13808 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:34 am UTC

Not cutting class, to be clear. Not at the university level, anyway.

The thread can be vague, but I have a specific situation I'm in that prompted me: I' starting university as a freshman in about two weeks as a social work/maths major. As such, I am scheduled to take Calculus I this first semester and Calc II the next. I noticed, however, that there is a placement test briefly before classes begin to skip over Calc I to Calc II upon high score on the test.

Now I have not taken Calculus in high school. However, there is a very notable amount of material for free online (MIT OpenCourseWare!) and there's two weeks to crash course it. Of course, the danger is if I get my way into Calc II, will I be missing some crucial foundation from a Calc I class that the two weeks of study wouldn't get?

In general for classes that allow free retroactive credit I am always for it if the single semester needed isn't a major class and can be passed well enough (foreign language is big here, at least at my school). This is just an oddity in that Calculus seems somewhat important for a maths major. Somewhat.

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Re: Skipping Over Classes

Postby Snark » Fri Aug 09, 2013 12:01 pm UTC

Calc 1 is a 5 Credit course that probably shouldn't be self taught in two weeks if you're planning on taking Calc 2 and Cakc 3. If you never doing anything Calc related in school or your career after Calc 1, it might be worth considering. Have you taken Pre-Calc yet?
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Re: Skipping Over Classes

Postby curtis95112 » Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:39 am UTC

A good knowledge of Calc 1 is going to be essential if you're majoring in math. Passing the test shouldn't be too difficult if you have all the prerequisite skills and are decent at cramming, but that's not going to get you the necessary understanding unless the test is very rigorous (In which case you won't be able to pass it in two weeks.).

So if you're going to skip the class, you should be planning to thoroughly study it in your own time in parallel with Calc 2 anyway. If you think you're good enough to manage that, then go for it! There's nothing wrong with accelerated learning if you can keep up 8-) .
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Re: Skipping Over Classes

Postby EvanED » Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:17 pm UTC

curtis95112 wrote:A good knowledge of Calc 1 is going to be essential if you're majoring in math. Passing the test shouldn't be too difficult if you have all the prerequisite skills and are decent at cramming, but that's not going to get you the necessary understanding unless the test is very rigorous (In which case you won't be able to pass it in two weeks.).

So if you're going to skip the class, you should be planning to thoroughly study it in your own time in parallel with Calc 2 anyway. If you think you're good enough to manage that, then go for it! There's nothing wrong with accelerated learning if you can keep up 8-) .
I'd agree with everything that curtis said, but with perhaps a bit pessimistic addition.

Even if you currently think that you'll be able to deal with independently studying Calc 1 as you take II, that doesn't necessarily mean that you will be able to. I don't know your temperament, but for many people, the transition to university is a big one. Classes may (or may not) be rather harder than you expect, and you'll probably do less studying than you would plan for under this plan, and it may (or may not) be a big change emotionally (especially if you haven't done any longer summer camps or things like that away from home). At least for me, independently studying something that I'm even only 1/2 interested in doing is hard enough; knowing what I know about myself, even though I could theoretically do what you suggest if I were in your shoes, it would probably not be a good idea. Maybe you have more will power than me though. (That may not be hard. :-)) I'm definitely not saying you can't pull it off, but I would suggest that skipping calc 1 even assuming you pass the test is probably a little risky.

And suppose you do it, and 1/2 the way through calc 2 you figure out that your calc 1 background isn't good enough -- then what do you do? I suggest you investigate answers to this question before you go for it. Feel free to talk to advisors or professors in the department. Maybe if you describe your conundrum they'll say "oh, that happens sometimes, and we can just switch you into calc 1 if it happens. You might have to do a bit of work for grading purposes, but it usually works out." Or maybe they'll say "oh, then you can drop it and take calc 1 in the spring", which would wind up delaying you rather than accelerating you, and then you have to decide whether that's worth the risk.

One possibility if the university allows it would be to crash study calc 1 now and take the test, and if you pass then take both 1&2 at once. You'll still have to do all the work of both courses that way, but it provides a couple of benefits: (1) vs. taking just calc 2 now, it gives you a safety net: if calc 2 turns out to be too hard, you can drop it and you'll still be in calc 1, and (2) vs. taking calc 2 in the spring, it moves you up the prerequisite tree and towards the more interesting classes (not that I didn't like calc) sooner.

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Re: Skipping Over Classes

Postby sparkyb » Sun Aug 11, 2013 5:44 pm UTC

EvanED wrote:One possibility if the university allows it would be to crash study calc 1 now and take the test, and if you pass then take both 1&2 at once. You'll still have to do all the work of both courses that way, but it provides a couple of benefits: (1) vs. taking just calc 2 now, it gives you a safety net: if calc 2 turns out to be too hard, you can drop it and you'll still be in calc 1, and (2) vs. taking calc 2 in the spring, it moves you up the prerequisite tree and towards the more interesting classes (not that I didn't like calc) sooner.

Plus if it turns out crash studying calc 1 was good enough, you can drop calc 1 since you already passed the test.

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Re: Skipping Over Classes

Postby P13808 » Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:41 pm UTC

Thank you, everyone. I appreciate the input on my situation :D

I actually discovered yesterday that my class is part of a National Science Foundation experiment to redesign the way Calculus is taught at the university level, primarily via moving around the order of concepts in II and III to integrate multivariable more effectively. (Among other things; it would seem the goal is to have a deeper learning throughout.) The downside is that once I hit Calc II I'm locked in for all three semesters (and I doubt they'll let me jump a semester for the experiment.) Of course, on the other hand I get my textbooks for all three semesters for free. (There's not even a fee. Unless I ask for the .pdf to be printed and bound for $50.)

I've taken pre-calc, trying to do Calc at the same time on my own in high school. And Evan, while that does sound like a very optimal plan, my current plan is essentially a triple major, which leaves my schedule at the level of "asking permission to overload every other semester" anyway. So while I would try to do the two simultaneously, it does not seem feasible. :(

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Re: Skipping Over Classes

Postby Bakemaster » Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:55 pm UTC

Of all the courses you could skip, a math major testing out of Calc I seems like the worst idea.

Okay, maybe you can study and "get" the material. Your goal shouldn't be just to "get" it though; your goal should be to know this stuff backwards and forwards, with your eyes closed and in your sleep. So much of what you'll be learning later on will be based, though perhaps with a few degrees of separation, on the fundamental concepts you'll learn in college calculus.

Take it, and think about how lucky you are to be someone who can digest the material comfortably and relaxedly, instead of someone who struggles and has to play catch-up for the next four years.
Snark wrote:Calc 1 is a 5 Credit course

The curricular accounting used at your particular institution is hilariously unhelpful.
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Re: Skipping Over Classes

Postby Snark » Sat Aug 17, 2013 7:51 pm UTC

Bakemaster wrote:
Snark wrote:Calc 1 is a 5 Credit course

The curricular accounting used at your particular institution is hilariously unhelpful.
For reference, most courses at my university were 3 credit courses. Expect Calc 1 to take almost twice as much of your time as the average course.
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P13808
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Re: Skipping Over Classes

Postby P13808 » Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:50 am UTC

Thank you all. I do suppose I will stay with Calc I. (And use the placement test as a free preview.Or something.)

Snark wrote:For reference, most courses at my university were 3 credit courses. Expect Calc 1 to take almost twice as much of your time as the average course.

Mine is 4 credits, as opposed to the average 3. How does it end up taking up double time? o.O

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Re: Skipping Over Classes

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:42 pm UTC

P13808 wrote:Thank you all. I do suppose I will stay with Calc I. (And use the placement test as a free preview.Or something.)

Snark wrote:For reference, most courses at my university were 3 credit courses. Expect Calc 1 to take almost twice as much of your time as the average course.

Mine is 4 credits, as opposed to the average 3. How does it end up taking up double time? o.O


The number of credits given to the course is not at all proportional to the amount of work required to complete it. Credits generally only refer to how many hours of lecture you'll be attending...

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Re: Skipping Over Classes

Postby Snark » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:51 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
P13808 wrote:Thank you all. I do suppose I will stay with Calc I. (And use the placement test as a free preview.Or something.)

Snark wrote:For reference, most courses at my university were 3 credit courses. Expect Calc 1 to take almost twice as much of your time as the average course.

Mine is 4 credits, as opposed to the average 3. How does it end up taking up double time? o.O


The number of credits given to the course is not at all proportional to the amount of work required to complete it. Credits generally only refer to how many hours of lecture you'll be attending...
Not correct.

Wikipedia wrote:Because students are generally expected to spend three hours outside class studying and doing homework for every hour spent in class,[1] 15 SCH is the normal full course load although many colleges consider 12 SCH a minimum full-time load for financial aid and other purposes

[1]Dianna L. Van Blerkom (7 January 2011). College Study Skills: Becoming a Strategic Learner. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-0-495-91351-1. Retrieved 3 December 2012
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Re: Skipping Over Classes

Postby Carlington » Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:47 pm UTC

I have no understanding of what Calc I/II/III represents. It seems multivariable calculus is a Calc III topic? I've already covered multivariable differential calculus, in my first semester. I think we tend to split it up by differential vs. integral calculus here.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that my university allocates maths subjects 3 units, where the standard seems to be 6. Maths classes cover a similar amount of material in one semester as everything else, they're just given half the class time to do it. Your mileage may vary, of course, but be mindful of this in your decision making.
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Re: Skipping Over Classes

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:31 pm UTC

Snark wrote:Not correct.

Wikipedia wrote:Because students are generally expected to spend three hours outside class studying and doing homework for every hour spent in class,[1] 15 SCH is the normal full course load although many colleges consider 12 SCH a minimum full-time load for financial aid and other purposes

[1]Dianna L. Van Blerkom (7 January 2011). College Study Skills: Becoming a Strategic Learner. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-0-495-91351-1. Retrieved 3 December 2012


So it's proportional to the number of hours of lecture you'll be attending, and an arbitrary scaling factor that in no way takes into account the actual difficulty/amount of work required to complete the course. I took several courses in my undergrad that required much less than three hours per lecture to get a satisfactory grade; in others three hours/lecture might be enough to get a marginal pass, and you'd probably need at least twice that for a decent grade. Hence my claim that the number of credits is not proportional to the amount of work actually required.

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Re: Skipping Over Classes

Postby Bakemaster » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:12 pm UTC

Credits mean different things at different institutions.

I've taken 1.0-credit classes that met for 2, 3, and 4 hours each week. I've taken 2.0-credit classes that met for as little as 30 minutes each week and as much as 4 hours each week. And all of these were part of accredited undergraduate degree programs—not certificates, not adult learning, not community college.

The same exact class can require different amounts of work from students when taught by different teachers. Different types of class with the same number of credits (e.g. traditional lecture, lecture-discussion format, lecture-lab format, traditional lab, research credits, independent study credits...) can also require drastically different amounts of work. There is obviously a trend on some level of more units, more work/fewer units, less work; but any institution may enforce or apply this structure more or less rigidly.

Regardless, this debate is irrelevant to the OP's question.
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