Futuredoc0614

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Hi All,

Some background on myself: I am a non-traditional pre-med student, age 27 and am currently a bio major. After working 6 years in marketing to support my wife through nursing school I have finally begun my journey towards my dream-becoming a physician. I just completed my second semester of undergrad and have signed up for summer to help accelerate my progress.


My Problem/Question: Because I was out of school for so long, my math skills were understandably rusty. I had to take 2 remedial algebra courses and am now entering college algebra this summer.. I know I am not that "behind", I just feel like I'm going to be stuck with these math pre-reqs for another year! I desperately want to begin my sciences but my school will not let me as they say I need to complete my math pre-reqs first.. I guess my question is- do I really need to complete college algebra in order to take BIO I/CHEM I? is it because I am a bio major that I need to follow this ridiculous course sequence? For example, If I were an English major and wanted to take Chemistry, would I be allowed to without having the math pre-req? It doesn't stop at Algebra, they said I need trig/statistics/calculus for some classes as well... seems strange..

As you may have guessed, math is not my strongest subject, but I somehow get by.. I am seriously considering changing my major to something a little less math-intensive in order to keep my GPA high/ start taking my sciences.. what do you think about Neuroscience?

What are your thoughts/advice on this?

Thanks so much!
 
Apr 13, 2016
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I understand your dismay and feelings of wasting your time on math when what you want to do is be a doctor, but believe me, you need to take college algebra and even a year of Calculus and DO WELL in them. I am, too, a non-traditional student, but I'm far older than you are. I'll be 49 this June. Fortunately, I took plenty of math when I was young, because I was getting a degree in Computer Science, but even now, I'm finding that I need to go back and brush up on my math skills when I'm studying for the MCATs. If you want to do well on the MCATs, you'll be glad you took a year of math and learned it, because it's on there. Good luck!
 

Futuredoc0614

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I understand your dismay and feelings of wasting your time on math when what you want to do is be a doctor, but believe me, you need to take college algebra and even a year of Calculus and DO WELL in them. I am, too, a non-traditional student, but I'm far older than you are. I'll be 49 this June. Fortunately, I took plenty of math when I was young, because I was getting a degree in Computer Science, but even now, I'm finding that I need to go back and brush up on my math skills when I'm studying for the MCATs. If you want to do well on the MCATs, you'll be glad you took a year of math and learned it, because it's on there. Good luck!

Thank you so much for your reply and advice. I'm so impressed that you are following your dreams when most people in their 40's would just settle in whatever they are/have been doing- good for you!! I guess it's true- "nothing good comes easy." I'll just need to push through if this is what I want to do :). Best of luck to you!
 
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AlbinoHawk DO

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Yes, you actually need math. Also, who cares? You still have to take it because of your schools rules.
 

etp123

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All that math leads into calculus, which is very necessary for physics and a bit in neuroscience because it explains the nervous system as an electric circuit. It would be hard to jump into calculus/try to apply that to pre-med coursework if you did not have a stable understanding of mathematical concepts beforehand. So you need calculus, but you can't have calculus unless you understand pre-calc, but before that you need to understand algebra, and before that you need trigonometry, etc... Perhaps you don't need to actually take the classes if you can learn algebra, etc, on your own; however, I would suggest you definitely take calculus in a classroom because it's a higher level course and you will need to really understand it.

Math is required for a reason. It's certainly needed in chemistry, biochemistry, etc. because there will be formulas and calculations you need to do to figure out the pH of something, what temperature is necessary for this reaction to succeed, tons of other stuff. I would also say an understanding of statistics is nice to have because it makes it easier to synthesize data coming from medical journals, scientific publications, etc.
 
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Thank you so much for your reply and advice. I'm so impressed that you are following your dreams when most people in their 40's would just settle in whatever they are/have been doing- good for you!! I guess it's true- "nothing good comes easy." I'll just need to push through if this is what I want to do :). Best of luck to you!
Thank you, and you as well! You can do it. Just don't focus on the future. Live your life. Even the time you spend preparing for med school and in med school, it's all part of your life, and you should live and learn from it. Good luck! :)
 

monami

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If you need to improve your math skills. There are many free resources online: Khan Academy and Paul's Online Math Notes come to mind.

You really don't need to major in anything to be admitted to medical school. Check out your local medical school's admission requirements, or whichever medical school you see yourself attending, and take those classes. When you feel ready take the MCAT.
 
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Changing to an "easier" major to inflate your grades doesn't make sense. From everything I gather WRT to MCAT/medschool, you want to take the most rigorous, demanding courses you can so that you both gain a solid knowledge base as well as to prepare yourself for medical school. Calculus is a weed out course.

If it's consolation, I'm older than you and experiencing the same thing. When I graduated high school and originally attended university I had SAT scores that allowed me to matriculate into college calculus. I was a liberal arts major at that time and withdrew from algebra before receiving an F. Twice. Maybe I received an F once, I don't remember. It was miserable and I thought I was terrible at math. Turns out that math just requires some homework and studying and focus.
My current college is requiring me to take elementary Algebra before letting me take Pre-Calc or stats. So I'm acing elem. Alg with little effort in an online course right. I'm taking statistics over the summer online and will ace that too. Then in the Fall it's a mixture of Trig/Pre-Calc (combined course to shave off a semester) so that next spring I'll be in Calc 1. Does it suck having to not just spring into things? Yes. But the practice I'm getting running through the accelerated elem Alg class is beneficial and boosting my confidence.
 
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eteshoe

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@Futuredoc0614 - Take a look at Paul Dawkin's Math Notes. An absolute God send that will allow you to crush all the necessary math you'll be taking.
 
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Many universities require Algebra I as a prerequisite for Physics and Chem so there is no way around it. You can get by without Calculus but it does make understanding the theory behind physics problems easier. Taking trig before physics is probably the best thing you can possibly do to bump your grade in that class.

You won't have that much math on the new MCAT at least, but being good at the basics along with sin, cos, logs, etc will help quickly narrow down answers.
 

Futuredoc0614

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Changing to an "easier" major to inflate your grades doesn't make sense. From everything I gather WRT to MCAT/medschool, you want to take the most rigorous, demanding courses you can so that you both gain a solid knowledge base as well as to prepare yourself for medical school. Calculus is a weed out course.

If it's consolation, I'm older than you and experiencing the same thing. When I graduated high school and originally attended university I had SAT scores that allowed me to matriculate into college calculus. I was a liberal arts major at that time and withdrew from algebra before receiving an F. Twice. Maybe I received an F once, I don't remember. It was miserable and I thought I was terrible at math. Turns out that math just requires some homework and studying and focus.
My current college is requiring me to take elementary Algebra before letting me take Pre-Calc or stats. So I'm acing elem. Alg with little effort in an online course right. I'm taking statistics over the summer online and will ace that too. Then in the Fall it's a mixture of Trig/Pre-Calc (combined course to shave off a semester) so that next spring I'll be in Calc 1. Does it suck having to not just spring into things? Yes. But the practice I'm getting running through the accelerated elem Alg class is beneficial and boosting my confidence.

Thank you for your advice. It's nice t know thetherer are others facing the same challenges. Would you mind me asking where you are taking your online math classes? My school offers the combined trig/pre-calc course- def going to take advantage of that.
 
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Thank you for your advice. It's nice t know thetherer are others facing the same challenges. Would you mind me asking where you are taking your online math classes? My school offers the combined trig/pre-calc course- def going to take advantage of that.


At my local community college. Night and online classes to get the prereqs done for cheap before matriculating at my local university. It's frustrating having to take the basic classes and have academic counselors completely ignore job history/career field/trade certifications as any sort of verification of ability or aptitude. But that's how it is so I'm eating my humble pie and acing every class I take.
 
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Eccesignum

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Trust me, once you hit Chemistry and Physics later you'll understand why you needed that algebra and trig.

It's frustrating to be back at "the beginning"...believe me, I know. I was 32 when I went back to school, taking college algebra with 18 year olds. I took a remedial math course the summer before I started to make sure my basics were solid, and when the professor learned how old I was he told me it was "shameful" that I was "that old" and in a beginner math course. Seriously. Thankfully nobody since has been quite so unnecessarily honest.

But I did what I had to do to get through the degree, and you will too. Don't think of it as a waste of time, because it isn't. I dreaded those early classes but now that I've taken them and am able to see what importance they had in the grand scheme I don't regret anything. Put your focus into understanding what you're learning and you'll thank your stars later :)
 
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But I did what I had to do to get through the degree, and you will too. Don't think of it as a waste of time, because it isn't. I dreaded those early classes but now that I've taken them and am able to see what importance they had in the grand scheme I don't regret anything. Put your focus into understanding what you're learning and you'll thank your stars later :)

This is really the salient point. When I was young, in the classes I did attend/pass my goal was never to understand. My goal was to do well enough to get a passing grade and get out of the class. Now, my goal is to understand the material and learn as much as possible. Instead of effing off during lecture and skipping class, my butt is in my seat, paying attention and taking notes. In being present to learn and making that the goal, the grades come naturally.
 
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At my local community college. Night and online classes to get the prereqs done for cheap before matriculating at my local university. It's frustrating having to take the basic classes and have academic counselors completely ignore job history/career field/trade certifications as any sort of verification of ability or aptitude. But that's how it is so I'm eating my humble pie and acing every class I take.
Doing the same thing, myself. I think I'm actually going to end up receiving an A.S. in Chemistry because of all of the pre reqs I'm having to take. I should say take over, because I already HAVE a year of Biology, Chemistry and Physics, but because I took them back in 1985-86, I have to take them over, which is fine, because I'm pretty sure I need more than just a quick brush up, not only for the MCAT's, but also for my year of O-chem, which I have never had, not to mention ... medical school! Let's not forget that we actually need to know this stuff in order to understand the coursework in med school. I'm taking the attitude that I want to actually LEARN this stuff this time around, as opposed to just getting an A in it and getting it over. I think it's only fair to our future patients that we know wtf we're doing. ;)
 

edgerock24

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Unless Calculus is required for your major, taking it as a premed is an utter waste of time/additional headache if you aren't interested in math.

Even precalc is useless for algebra based physics; all you need to know is basic trig that can be learned from a 10 minute Khan Academy video.
 
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Unless Calculus is required for your major, taking it as a premed is an utter waste of time/additional headache if you aren't interested in math.

Even precalc is useless for algebra based physics; all you need to know is basic trig that can be learned from a 10 minute Khan Academy video.
Have you found that non-calculus based physics is sufficient to get admitted to most medical schools? Because I quite frankly don't want to take the calculus-based version again, and I most certainly won't if I don't have to.
 
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Have you found that non-calculus based physics is sufficient to get admitted to most medical schools? Because I quite frankly don't want to take the calculus-based version again, and I most certainly won't if I don't have to.
It is, that said I've had both and the need for calculus isn't that great really, as many students are just starting calc at same time so the profs often explain using calc but show both focus on using algebra for problem solving. The calc way is actually imo easier.

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk
 
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It is, that said I've had both and the need for calculus isn't that great really, as many students are just starting calc at same time so the profs often explain using calc but show both focus on using algebra for problem solving. The calc way is actually imo easier.

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk
Not in my opinion! I had to take a year of calculus based physics along with 5 quarters (we did quarters back then) of calculus at Georgia Tech the first time I was in college. COOL!!! I'm DEFINITELY taking the easy physics this time!!!!!! And I believe they offer that version online at the CC I'm going to. SWEEEEEEEEEEET!!! And THANKS!!!
 

edgerock24

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Have you found that non-calculus based physics is sufficient to get admitted to most medical schools? Because I quite frankly don't want to take the calculus-based version again, and I most certainly won't if I don't have to.
I don't think calculus based physics is required for any medical school in the country (maybe Harvard? I could be wrong, though).

Personally, unless you are a math person, taking calculus itself and/or calculus based physics is entirely unnecessary.
 
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I don't think calculus based physics is required for any medical school in the country (maybe Harvard? I could be wrong, though).

Personally, unless you are a math person, taking calculus itself and/or calculus based physics is entirely unnecessary.
Cool. Yeah, unfortunately, I am NOT a math person, but I was a computer person, so to get my degree, I had to take quite a lot of math (this was back in 1985-90), and unfortunately I didn't do very well (as in I have a lot of C's in my math courses), and they count those toward your science GPA, if I'm not mistaken, so I'm going to have to just bite the bullet and ace all of my courses this time around, so that I have a competitive GPA. As an older student, I'm a straight A student, but because I was 1.) young and horny and going to a fairly difficult tech school in Georgia Tech and 2.) majoring in something that I wasn't very good at, but thought I was supposed to do, my GPA from Georgia Tech isn't all that great. I've read that adcoms look at trends though, and if that is true, I should be okay if I kick the MCAT's butt, because I've been and plan to continue being all aces this time around. :)
 
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Eccesignum

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Personally, unless you are a math person, taking calculus itself and/or calculus based physics is entirely unnecessary.

There are a small handful of schools that require calculus (Dartmouth comes to mind), but it's rare. From what I saw last year most places, if they have a math requirement, will let you use stats to satisfy it.
 
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