Long road ahead at Columbia

Hey there, all, another OPM here. Being a doctor was always my goal, but things got a little mixed up at my undergrad university (namely a D- in freshman Bio) and I decided it was best to get a BA first, and take the pre-reqs after graduation. I was accepted to Columbia’s Post-Bacc program last year but couldn’t pass their Math placement exam (I failed it twice ) until this month, so I’m starting in the fall with precalculus–not a pre-req, I know, but the Post-Bacc advisors said that since I haven’t taken a math course in six years (I’m 23 and was a theatre arts/classics double major) and had so much trouble with their test, it’s best to build up my math skills first. I feel like I’m starting at step one–well, okay, I am–but Columbia assures me they’ve had people start where I am and still graduate with a great GPA/MCAT combo. It’s a great opportunity, but I have to admit I’m incredibly nervous.
Is anyone else in the Columbia program? Has anyone had to start from less than scratch like me? It would be great to know I’m not alone.

Ohio State recommends that their pre-meds take through Math 151 (Calculus I). When I started, the advisor told me that they would count my college algebra class if I wanted, and I could start with 150 (Geometric Functions, which is basically pre-calc). However, she recommended, and I agreed, that since it had been close to 15 years since I had taken any serious math, that I retake the College Algebra, especially since I had to go on to take two more math classes. Retaking the Algebra/Trig was definitely a good idea for me. I think I would have struggled if I had tried to jump into the pre-calc without first refreshing my memory on the Algebra/Trig stuff. It was also helpful retaking the Trig, because then it was fresh in my mind when I needed to use it in Physics the following quarter.
If I were in your shoes I would ABSOLUTELY start with the pre-calc. Better to get a good grip on something and do well than start at a higher level, struggle, and risk getting a poor grade.
Best of Luck -
PS - The worst part about the math for me was learning how to use the stupid calculator!!! When I did all this graphing stuff the first time, we did it all by hand. What I really needed was Remedial Graphing Calculator 101!

What is your gut feeling about it? Oh and let me guess–Columbia’s placement exam puts you in Calc 4, 3, 2, 1 or nowhere…
Precalc isn’t really step one–there’s a lot that goes before it. Plus it’s only like, what, one class and you’ll be onto calculus.
If you WANT to do it, you probably can. You really gotta be into it though. I did the same thing as you, sort of. It was a lot of work, but ok in the end.

Hi NYCMed!!
I am in the Columbia PostBacc program too. I just started it this January. I went to Columbia undergrad and had actually taken a lot of the coursework before (4 semesters of Calc, a year of physics and lab, a year of G. Chem and lab, and one semester of orgo). However they are having me redo the sciences, but not the Math or the Labs. I ended up graduating a Computer Science and Music double major. I took Physics I last semester and am taking Physics II now in the summer. This summer class thing is killing me! I’ll be doing General Chemistry come September.
There are definitely many people who are starting in the same way you are. I just bumped into one of the girls I met during orientation and she is taking that pre-Calc course now in the summer. She said that it’s intense but that she is learning a lot and is able to keep up with it. She will be taking Calculus I in the fall along with G. Chem.
You can definitely do it!
Let’s meet up on campus some time. I’m very familiar with Columbia both from the undergrad and postbacc perspective. And I also was born and grew up in Manhattan. Let me know if you have any questions. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the replies, everyone. I don’t have a choice as far as pre-calc goes, since Columbia told me I need to take it before they’ll let me take Calc I, but I don’t mind. As you guys said, it’s better to firm up my understanding of the material rather than jump in and drown. I’m not too proud to get tutoring either, if I end up needing it.
And Halcyon440, I’d love to meet up this Fall. With so many courses looming up ahead, I’m going to need all the support I can get!