BloodySurgeon

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Math Majors, give me a preview of what it would be like as a math major. Also, tell me if it would be a good idea for me to change my major.

I think math is one of the most peaceful subjects to study and many times I have contemplated if I should be a math major. Writing papers were always a big hastle to me, while science + math always came natural. The problem is, I have taken countless bio/chem/psych classes and only got up to cal II and I don't know if it would be a good idea to change my major. I was always good in math, as a child my teacher would let me lecture a couple of math sessions to my classmates. However, due to the horrible education system of U.S. public schools ... they made me repeat algebra and geometry coutless times due to random and/or irrational complications, even though I received an A or was top ranked on the math section of the yearly standardized tests.... (part of the reason I left HS at an early age and started college). So I picked up a book and taught myself trig/cal/etc. and was placed into calculus in college. I got A's with ease, however didnt decide to continue math since med school had a lot of requirements. I am a sophomore now and finished my pre-reqs and have the opportunity to change my major. I am a psych major, but find it terribly boring. Some of my friends tell me its a bad idea to become a math major, since taking two courses doesn't constitute me as a good math student. If I'm a psych major... all I need to do is go through torture for 1 more year and then then my 4th yr will be clear sailings, which I plan to study abroad and maybe live/work in another country for a while before med school starts. As a math major I would probably spend the last two years finishing my major requirements. I do get good grades as a psych major, but it doesn't come easy. I study hard and with hard-work I get the grade I deserve. However, for math, I get it instantly.

The problem is... Im not passionate about either majors; its just math comes easier and A LOT LESS PAINFUL. What would you recommend?
 

MonkeyNuts!

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Do what you enjoy and do it well.

I do agree that you should take an upper level math course and see if you like it.

Calc II is not the same as say, Advanced Fourier Integrals III
 

MonkeyNuts!

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Oh you're a sophomore. Junior year is usually when the bulk of the major's material generally comes in. In a math major you would probably be doing this AND playing catchup at the same time.
 
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pyrois

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Before making bold statements about being good or bad at math, take a single upper division math course to see if what you believe is actually true.

Calculus I/II, Multivar Calc, and Linear Algebra/Differential Eq's are much different than upper division math (see abstract algebra, number theory, knot theory etc.). The first 4 basic math courses are exactly that: basic.

One of the great parts about being a Biology major or a Psychology major is that the nature of the classes do not change much as you rise to upper division. You started with a global view of the subject, and slowly "zoom in" to different aspects of biological function or psychological theory. Hence, it still is memorization and similar study techniques that earn you A's (unless you branch out into biophysical neurobio or something of that nature). Hence, the classes are very similar in nature to the "basic" classes.

Math, physics, and a number of other "hardcore" sciences change drastically in the transition from lower div to upper div math. Everything becomes less concrete and straightforward, and much more abstract. You're not really starting with a "global view" of math by taking Calculus. Instead you are simply viewing a single brick at the bottom of a castle and "zoom out" to see all the other aspects of Math.

So just make sure to put your foot in the water before diving in for a swim. If your classes are graded on a curve *cough UC's* understand that your classmates will be some of the greatest mathematicians in the world, and you will have to not only understand the material, but understand it better than them to earn your B-'s that will get you into medical school.
 

QuantumMechanic

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advanced math courses take not only extraordinary amounts of time and effort but also are hard and require a special mindset. do you like proofs (or have you even done a proof)? the American education system does more injustice to students by gently guiding them along in mathematics until college where math departments break out the most ridiculously hard stuff to put your mind around.

most people have a terrible misconception about math. I laugh everytime a freshman says he or she is going to be a math major: they follow through maybe 1% of the time.
 

munnabhai

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biophysical neurobio is the way to go woooooooo

honestly.. plain out bio is boring for me... a little memorization + a little concept is fun. borrow a little from physics and a little from EE and be befuddled by the math!
 

pyrois

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do you like proofs (or have you even done a proof)? .

Haha, such a relevant question. Take the delta-epsilon proof as an example. My professor told me that many students have a difficult time just understanding it and copying it down on test day from memory.

This is a huge problem. In the future, you will have to come up with stuff like the delta-epsilon proof (including relatively precise semantics, ee gad!) from scratch on test day.

Essentially anything that you can do on a TI-89 isn't true math (if it were, nobody would hire mathematicians... they'd just buy a calculator).

In one of my classes, they actually didn't care if we brought in a high tech graphing calculator, or even a laptop. Our professor just laughed and said "as long as you don't communicate with another individual during the test, none of your fancy toys are going to help you." That freaked me out:p It was my first upper div math class:)
 

BloodySurgeon

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Thanks for the advice. Couple of my friends who graduated as math and econ majors kinda told me the same, but I didn't know if they were acting snobby or sincere. Im not afraid of a challenge but I think it would be illogical to change my major now given these info. What i'll do is get a couple of more advance math books, get a sample, and if I lose interest I think im going to compromise and change to a psychobio major. I swear im going crazy as a psych major, so please understand my reasoning to sway from one major to another so easily. But ultimately I wouldn't care what my major is if it would jeopardize my chances to med school. :love:
 

nazdar

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advanced math courses take not only extraordinary amounts of time and effort but also are hard and require a special mindset. do you like proofs (or have you even done a proof)?
:thumbup:
Try taking a proof-based class before changing majors. Maybe something like linear algebra/matrix theory or intro to number theory (those are some of the first ones at my school).

But I'm not really sure changing to math would be worth it for you. It's not going to be easy, and if you're not passionate about psych or math, I would just stick with psych and save yourself from taking the extra classes.
 

Grobular

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Depends on your passion. Getting a math major + keeping up an exceptional gpa is difficult, but if youre doing what you like then getting good grades won't be problematic. I would recommend following the recommendations from the other folks here and get a taste of proof based math first. For premeds, the other difficulty might be that you won't have some of the research opportunities of biology majors. That said, I had a great experience getting my B.S. in mathematics and B.A. in econ, and I know several good physicians (a cardiologist and a general internist) who studied mathematics in college.
 

gary5

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I think you need more words. Anyway, I read a sentence or two, got bored, and quit.
 

JAK704

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here is my take on the math major:
1) upper level math courses are almost completely different from basic courses like calculus, differential equations, etc. in our upper level courses we rarely used numbers, never used calculators, and were graded almost exclusively on proofs.
2) upper level math courses can be extremely difficult. ive taken all of the pre-med preqs and several advanced science courses, and these were all quite a bit easier than my math courses. you have to really understand the material in order to be able to deftly apply it during proofs. looking back on my math coursework, i can say that it really was the ultimate 'mental workout', and it forced me to develop analytical/thinking skills that will be invaluable for any career
3) math courses are included in your BCPM GPA, which is a potential disadvantage. almost none of your competition will have majored in math, so they won't have the grades from difficult math courses included in their BCPM GPA.

i'd advise anyone considering a math major to take at least one upper level course before declaring. it's a very challenging and interesting major for some people, and it can be a terribly annoying major for others. good luck.
 

Hurricane95

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If you are really passionate about getting into medical school and are sure your future lies in medicine, then it wouldn't really matter what your degree is in, since it is not going to serve as a backup life plan anyway. I would be careful about switching majors in your third year, since you will have lots of catchup work to do and could even have to take more than your fourth year to finish your coursework. If you are really passionate about math (and seeing as how you said you would have lots of free time fourth year), why not take a couple of higher level math classes during senior year for fun? You get to explore a subject you like, and by then grades matter less (as long as you straight up don't fail said math classes, get at least C's) because your applications are already being processed and you are already getting interviews and such. You dont have to do a full math major unless you really want to be a mathematician...take a few extra classes during senior year just to learn some more.
 

gmsquid

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Honestly, I've done the math major and have done well in it. Its a really hard major, requires a lot of time, and I went to a high school were I got a small bit of exposure to real proofs. Nothing can prepare you for Advanced Calculus - take it, see how you do. If you still enjoy it then do it. I liked Advanced Calc a lot, but i've hated a few of my upper level math courses. Advanced Linear Algebra is boring me to DEATH. but yes, proofs are hard enough on your homework that you spend hours on, now imagine having to prove something on a test. I'm not discouraging you, its helped me think a lot better, but its a cautious decision. PM if you have any questions, I've taken a really theoretical courseload and on top of it I'm doubling in chemistry.
 
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