the calculus cacaphony in my head

I just started a postbac program (at Mills) and am having a hard time juggling my classes (bio, chem, calculus) and finding time to make sure I actually comprehend it all. The biggest burden for me is calculus. (My last math class was in 1993–in high school!) I’m thinking of dropping it and taking it over the summer somewhere. But maybe I should just stick with it? Has anyone else gone through this? Thanks in advance for any advice.

I guess a lot depends on your overall comfort level with math. I took College Algebra in 1989. When I returned to school, they told me they would count that as “their” College Algebra/Trig class and I could start in pre-calculus if I wanted. However, it was recommended to me (and I agreed), that I would probably be better off repeating the Algebra/Trig, especially since I needed to go on through calculus.
For me, this was definitely a wise move. College Algebra has changed radically since 1989. Back in the day, we did all that graphing crap by hand. The hardest part of this “repeat” course for me was learning how to use the $%#$ calculator that was more expensive than my textbook. I ended up with an A in algebra, and an A in both pre-calc and calc.
If you are really struggling, I would suggest dropping it. Consider taking pre-calc first. You don’t say much about your GPA, but these DO count in your BCPM GPA, so you don’t want to scrape by if you can avoid it. Keep in mind that many schools don’t require calc, so go ahead and put it off until summer. Concentrate on the Bio and Chem. You NEED a good knowledge base in them for the MCAT. You DON’T need Calculus.
Good Luck -

I think Amy hit the nail on the head. The schools all seem to use the graphing calculator, which is a learning experience in itself. In Texas, you have to “place” in math by testing, so that decision was made for me (which was 2 classes of intro algebra before starting the whole process - all Bs for me, still a major achievement!) You’re taking several very intense classes. If you feel you aren’t ready, don’t jeopardize your gpa. Just make sure you really need to drop, as W’s are frowned on as well.


The schools all seem to use the graphing calculator, which is a learning experience in itself.

Actually mileage will vary on the use of a graphing calculator for classes. My university doesn’t allow graphing calculators at all in the math dept, and only certain science profs allow them. After taking algebra and trig somewhere that did use the graphing calculators I found that I had to relearn a lot of stuff to make it through calculus (which you really don’t need a graphing calculator for anyway).

Now back to the regularly scheduled thread…

–Jessica, UCCS