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Should I take Calculus if it will likely lower my gpa?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by popcorners, 09.23.14.

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  1. popcorners

    popcorners 2+ Year Member

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    So my premed advisor insists I have to take calculus I. The thing is I am horrible at pure math classes. I'm pretty good at gen chem/physics math because those are pretty basic, but precalculus already killed me my first semester. I really cannot imagine going through another math class ever again, and I will most likely screw up my gpa if I do take it.

    So...to calculus or to not calculus?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. blackroses

    blackroses

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    Duke, Harvard, Icahn, Warren Alpert, UCLA/I/R/SD, U of Mississippi, Virginia Tech, and Washington University are the only schools that require Calculus. What are the chances that you'll seriously be applying to any of those schools?

    Calculus is going the way of the Dodo.
     
  4. Angie_MD

    Angie_MD 2+ Year Member

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    Hey, I went through the same thing with pre-calc totally bombed it the first try now I'm retaking it -_- however my thoughts are depending on the medical schools you are planning on applying too and their requirements for math I say don't take calculus if you really feel like it's gonna mess with your GPA. So far I haven't seen calculus being a big deal for med schools, I've seen the chems and maybe statistics but haven't really seen such a focus on calc, hope this helps! I'm actually not going to take anymore math courses after pre calc because I already took statistics thanks God!
     
  5. claduva94

    claduva94 2+ Year Member

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    Didn't you post before about wanting to apply to Sinai? In that case you have to take it...
     
  6. dirigo

    dirigo 2+ Year Member

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    Calculus (like Physics) is a great premed course to take because it forces you to use a lot of reasoning. Why do you already have this "i can't" attitude before even trying? The mcat will kill you if you keep that up. Calculus 1 was easy, Calculus 2 will make your hair grey, Calculus 3 was a deserved breeze.
     
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  7. NoDakDok

    NoDakDok 2+ Year Member

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    On an intellectual scale, Calc I and III are pretty easy, just be wary of Calc II.

    If you don't go into Calc I like you're going to the executioner, you should be totally fine. But if you don't need to take it, there's not really any reason to unless you have a particular interest in that subject. Doesn't seem like you do, so why? Unless your adviser has a legitimate, logical reason beyond 'challenge yourself,' I would not bother taking their advice.
     
  8. Strudel19

    Strudel19 5+ Year Member

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    If you're already expecting to not do well in it, don't take it.
     
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  9. type12

    type12 2+ Year Member

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    If you EVER wish to understand how current security systems (includes HIPAA compliance) work, you NEED calculus. Don't cripple yourself. Math is fundamental.
     
  10. reapplicantblues

    reapplicantblues

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    Best case scenario - you study hard and get an A, which won't differentiate you at all from other premeds that actually like Calc. Worst case, you do poorly, hurting your app and not helping you at all in the long run. Take the required pre-reqs, and beyond that take what interests you. While calc might give you some more intuition into things like tumor growth and cardiac output, taking a class in abnormal psychology or sociology or ethics would give you just as much utility in terms of preparing to be a doctor.

    PS, I was almost a math major, and the advice that Calc 1/3 is easier is purely subjective - I found Calc 2/Diff EQ much more intuitive.
     
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  11. Angie_MD

    Angie_MD 2+ Year Member

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    Yes although it says that, it also states that one semester of statistics is preferred and in the knowledge box it also says that bio chem and statistics should be known. If I have to take calc I will but what I was actually saying to the OP that if it had came down to not having to then i won't.
     
  12. Gregor Wiesmann

    Gregor Wiesmann

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    Keep in mind that if you want to major in Biology or another science, you'll need to take it.......well, at least at my University. I haven't taken Calc yet because I'm still on the fence between two majors, and only one of them requires it. So I might end up having to take it, but I certainly wouldn't take it if it was optional.
     
  13. NoDakDok

    NoDakDok 2+ Year Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  14. harmony2

    harmony2

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    don't take GONGULOUS !!
     
  15. Aerus

    Aerus Elemental Alchemist 2+ Year Member

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    Although it was high school, I found myself enjoying calculus a lot more than pre-calculus.
     
  16. freemontie

    freemontie Banned Banned

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    99% of the people who say math is too hard for them are just not doing all the practice problems. If you sit and do all the odd-number practice problems and get it right until your answers match the back-of-book answers- then there is no way in bloody hell you won't get an A (especially since only about 10% of the class will do any more problems than the bare minimum required.)

    The objectivity of "low-level" math makes it the only BCPM section that can offer an iron-tight guarantee like that. (i.e. Your science class might not like how you explained a certain process and your lab might dock you because of formatting/style, but nothing will f- you on your math grade except your own choice not to do enough practice problems)
     
    Last edited: 09.24.14
  17. blackroses

    blackroses

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    Not at all true. People can and do have difficulty understanding math even if they do work hard - just like some people struggle in English classes despite putting in significant time and effort. Some people are lazy, yes, but to say that it's impossible for someone to have trouble with math for a reason other than laziness is ridiculous.
     
  18. freemontie

    freemontie Banned Banned

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    No, it's completely different than english class.

    In english class you turn in a paper and get a non-optimal grade for reasons A, D, G - none of which are perfectly defined. You resolve not to do that next time. But the next paper you turn in gets another non-optimal grade for reasons L and M - and G again, because the problem (G, was not defined well enough for you to solve in all cases).

    In math class, if someone (even someone who can't understand math easily) took however much time/effort to mull over the problems (and yes, it would take a long time if they truly have difficulty in understanding) in his/her textbook until they start getting answers that match the back-of-book solutions- then they will get an A. Why? Because unlike in english, when you get your answer it is (A) either right or wrong and (B) for reasons that are very precisely defined and that you can apply to the next problem.

    Honestly, do you know any of these math whiners who have actually attempted all the odd-numbered problems in their textbook? A good portion of them don't even do the minimum required problems (copying other people's work, working in groups, soliciting "help" that is really just someone else solving it for them, etc) As a math tutor, I see this behavior all the time.
     
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  19. blackroses

    blackroses

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    Have you ever studied grammar in an English class? There is clearly a correct answer - and even with studying, some people struggle with it. I'm one of those "math whiners" who does in fact do every single problem in the textbook (not just the odd numbered ones), and it is still difficult for me. Am I entirely unable to be successful? No. Do I have difficulty understanding the material despite working at it? Yes. Anyone can struggle with any area of knowledge. It's a bit concerning that you're under the impression that the only reason that person can struggle with a particular subject is laziness, as this is blatantly untrue. It is perfectly reasonable for people to have more difficulty understanding certain subjects (and perfectly normal).
     
  20. freemontie

    freemontie Banned Banned

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    No, I have not studied grammar since grade school. I didn't even realize it was studied at the college level since the advent of computer word processing and auto-check. Nor was grammar one of the reasons I was referring to. I was referring to poorly defined problems that are often instructor-specific in writing seminars. Usually related to things like synthesis and structure of an essay. That's why one can't really guarantee that an essay will be an A instead of a B+, for example.

    Also, out of curiosity- you said you did all the problems in your math textbook. And did you check and understand all the solutions (i.e. why yours was wrong)? I have a hard time believing that after doing 40 max/min problems, for example, including the "challenge problems" in your textbook- that you can't apply that directly to the (most likely easy-to-average) max/min problem on your midterm (assuming we're not talking about intro calculus at MIT or equivalent).
     
  21. blackroses

    blackroses

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    Most colleges offer upper-division grammar courses. I'd be hard-pressed to find one that didn't, I think. Regardless of what you were referring to, the comparison stands - some people have more difficulty understanding certain topics, whether that is grammar, mathematics, chemistry, physics, or programming.
     
  22. freemontie

    freemontie Banned Banned

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    -OK- Yes, a grammar course would be closer to math in that their are logical rules to learn and follow. Obviously I wasn't talking about that. (And if there is a grammar class in my college I can't find it....unless you're talking about the linguistics department.)

    -I never said some people don't have more difficulty in understanding math. (Obviously true). I even reference that in my comment. Not the point.

    -I don't believe you re: doing all the textbook problems.
     
  23. blackroses

    blackroses

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    You weren't talking about grammar, but again, the comparison holds true; some people struggle to grasp grammar, some people struggle to grasp math. It's absolutely not always due to laziness.

    You very strongly implied that the only people who struggle with math are those who are lazy.
    Unfortunately for you, this is an online forum and I have no way to prove to you that I do complete all practice problems, nor do I need to. Stating that you don't believe what I say in regards to my study habits really has no bearing on my opinions on the matter.
     
  24. miszfifi820

    miszfifi820 2+ Year Member

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    -
     
    Last edited: 12.16.14
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  25. DifferentialDiagnosis

    DifferentialDiagnosis

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    I always thought taking calculus was a given. Take calculus. It will be very useful in a lot of areas of science. TAKE IT, and do really well. Also, ask yourself why you struggled in Precalc. Where there gaps in your knowledge of algebra? Maybe you should address those before you take it. For me, fractions took a LOT of work, but once I got through them everything just "clicked." Also, premeds have this nasty habit of having very negative self-talk "I can't do this" "I'm not good enough" "why did I get a 98 and not a 100" etc etc. You can succeed if you believe in yourself and put in the work.
    You're smart. You're premed smart. Start with that mindset. You'll do fine.
     
  26. Lucca

    Lucca Will Walk Rope for Sandwich 2+ Year Member

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    If you take calculus 1/2/3 you will better understand physics.
    If you better understand physics, Gen Chem II and O-Chem I will be very easy for you.
     
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  27. miszfifi820

    miszfifi820 2+ Year Member

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    I'm sorry but how does calculus help gen chem II and O-chem I at all??
     
  28. freemontie

    freemontie Banned Banned

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    Your thought process is jumbled. I said they are lazy. I didn't say that math might not be harder for them. (note the difference between the phrase "too hard" vs. "harder") Math can be harder for you but you can still get a guaranteed A, it just means you have to spend more time doing more practice problems. (And ditto with grammar for that matter.)

    There's nothing "magical" about math at the level we're talking about that makes it very unique to other tasks. I would be more inclined to agree with you if we are talking of high level math (which I define as Real Analysis and above) with proof-based solutions that require a certain bit of "mathematical intuition" that not everyone can gain. But this certainly doesn't apply to Calculus I.

    But you're right. I dont' believe you and you can't prove it. (But there's just not that many the different problems in Calculus I that the concept of max/min can be applied to (for example). If someone did all the max/min problems in the book while correcting themselves and understanding the solutions as the go along, I just can't believe a max/min problem on a midterm could pose a problem at all. Especially since professors makes Calc I tests with the idea that most students would have done only the homework.)
     
    Last edited: 09.26.14
  29. miszfifi820

    miszfifi820 2+ Year Member

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    useful in what areas?
     
  30. freemontie

    freemontie Banned Banned

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    Pre-med science doesn't apply calculus at all.

    If you're talking about pre-med, no. But if you're talking about science in general which was the post you quoted- than your question is pretty silly.

    To the OP's question I would say don't take Calculus if you know you're not going to do well (i.e. you know you won't do all the painful practice problems necessary to ace the class). My whole point though was that lower level math has a very high correlation to effort (which I measure in raw hours) to the point where an A can be guaranteed.
     
    Last edited: 09.24.14
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  31. Gregor Wiesmann

    Gregor Wiesmann

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    True that. Funny story actually, I got a D in Pre-Calc II a couple of years ago......I was barely doing any homework, was always behind by a solid 2-3 sections from what the professor was teaching, and I was always late to class by like 15-20 minutes. Anyways, I retook that class last year with a hard teacher and got an "A". Yep, not an A-, but a real A. The difference you ask? Well, I showed up to EVERY single class early, did the assigned homework problems, and I didn't let myself get behind by much at all. Math is beautiful because it's one of the only courses where you basically decide your own fate. If you do the homework that the professor tells you to do and you make sure you are answers are correct, you will get an A. End of story. However, I haven't taken Calc yet because I will only need it if I decide to major in Biology.
     
  32. Gregor Wiesmann

    Gregor Wiesmann

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    I got an A in Gen Chem II without having any Calculus or Physics in my background.
     
  33. edgerock24

    edgerock24 2+ Year Member

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    Same here.

    @popcorners Calculus is a useless course for a premed. Do not take it unless your major requires you to take it.

    The people who are essentially saying "take calculus even though you suck at math!" are not giving you proper advice. In fact, they are giving you awful advice.

    You do not need Calculus for any premed prerequisite. It is not worth the hassle to take it if you are not a math wiz (geek?) like many posters here in SDN. Your GPA is what matters. Keep it as high as possible. Adcoms could care less if you take Calc or not (keep in mind, you can also interview and be accepted at medical schools that require calculus -- you'd just need to take it before matriculation).
     
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  34. boltedbicorne

    boltedbicorne Banned Banned

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    what? No you don't. I like math, and have taken through diff equations and that doesnt even seem remotely accurate. that's like saying you need calculus to determine your rate of breathing.
     
  35. type12

    type12 2+ Year Member

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  36. blackroses

    blackroses

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    You certainly don't need calculus to understand the basics of encryption.
     
  37. deuist

    deuist Stealthfully Sarcastic Lifetime Donor 10+ Year Member

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    Calculus is a great course to learn how the world works and for physiology and pharmacology, calc is employed regularly for problem solving. I recommend not skimping on the subject. Take a MOOC first if necessary to get familiar with it, but calculus is certainly worth it once you get through it all.
     
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  38. Hospitalized

    Hospitalized Caspase Cascade 2+ Year Member

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    I would simply advise taking calculus because it requires critical thinking. It's a very small stepping stone into difficult decision making that is required with more difficult science classes. If you struggle with calculus, I can't imagine you wouldn't struggle with organic.
     
  39. lumpyduster

    lumpyduster 2+ Year Member

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    Lol calculus and orgo are tooooootally different. I would say you need to think critically for both but you can't say if you do well in one you'll do well in the other.

    I was a math/chem double major. I've taken 4 semesters of calculus, differential equation, linear algebra, stats, and probability... Organic chemistry came very easy to me, whereas the way my first semester of calculus was taught was very much based on theory and very very difficult. I almost changed my chemistry major because I needed 3 semesters of calculus and I didn't think I could do it if all my math classes were so abstract. Luckily it was just my professor.

    I also don't buy the whole "I'm so bad at math" thing. I hated math in middle school until I started to actually work at it like any other subject. Too many people think math should come naturally and if it doesn't they must be bad at it. No one goes around saying they're "bad" at reading because that'd just be embarrassing. Saying you're bad at math is considered acceptable.
     
  40. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    Now you're just lying.
     
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  41. type12

    type12 2+ Year Member

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    We are probably saying the same thing, but our definitions of calculus are probably different. Let's meet in the middle and say "It will always benefit you to have a greater understanding of math"?
     
  42. Zelda840

    Zelda840

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    This is my plan. I took college algebra and stats and I figure if a miracle happens and Brown shows me some love then I'll just take calc before matriculation.
     
  43. fmpak93

    fmpak93

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    Everyone going into STEMs should take AT LEAST Calculus I.

    Studying mathematics/physics/engineering does wonders to your analytical abilities in the long run. Things begin to make more sense when studying graphs and recognizing patterns.
     
  44. Evisju7

    Evisju7

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    Biology majors at my school must take through calculus II.
    Something tells me you're not a stem major?

    If you do take calculus, take pre-calc first
     

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