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Ivy League... be prepared

cheetahgirl121cheetahgirl121 119 replies20 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
So our D just finished freshman year at a highly selective university. She took AP classes in high school, did well and thought she was prepared for her first year. First semester was fine she retook a couple of classes but then second semester hit... Granted she is in a tough major but did not realize that the next math sequence would be so hard! The professors, knowing that many kids were coming from very rigorous schools, made the calc mid terms extremely difficult... the kids who had already taken the class did fine but those who had not made the low grades... C, D, F. Crazy. The same issue came up in physics... even though calc I and II were the "required" math pre-reqs. the class was geared for those who had completed calc III. D wishes that at orientation or during class selection she had known what was necessary to really excel in those classes. She did alright but will now really have to dig out next semester. Definitely not a soft landing for the first year. She has already told us she will be taking two other core science classes elsewhere in the summer because of this same issue.
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Replies to: Ivy League... be prepared

  • Ballerina016Ballerina016 1618 replies69 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Engineering is very difficult at any school. Most highly selective schools will not accept classes taken elsewhere.
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  • HamurtleHamurtle 2524 replies33 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited May 2018
    Not just the Ivy League schools-a lot of elites practice weeding out of students in the introductory classes. My son says that at his Top 20 school, kids who took Calculus BC in high school and were retaking the class were doing poorly. At his school, Calculus 3 is much easier than Calculus 1/2. I have heard that Statistics is harder than the equivalent AP class.

    I don’t think it’s professors deliberately making the tests difficult as much as making students adjust to a different style of learning. A lot of the STEM classes are focused more on the use of abstract concepts and in the case of Calculus and other higher math classes, the derivation of formulas and using proofs instead of plug and chug questions. The students who adjust quickly enough will do well.
    edited May 2018
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  • HamurtleHamurtle 2524 replies33 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    And if the classes your daughter will be taking over the summer are General or Organic Chemistry, a lot of kids will do that over the summer. Cramming a year’s worth of science classes in 8-9 weeks is not the most optimal solution but some students feel that their home schools deliberately weed out students in those classes.

    Especially for schools that have a high reputation for their pre-meds (Johns Hopkins and WashU come into mind), the introductory general and organic chemistry classes are structured in a way to try to reduce the number of students to a more manageable number. BME is another major where the attrition is high.
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  • cheetahgirl121cheetahgirl121 119 replies20 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    She did take the classes recommended by the advisors. However, she was used to using the book problems/homework to review when she should have only used released exams etc. learned this a bit too late. She thought she was doing well because her homework grades were so high.
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  • HamurtleHamurtle 2524 replies33 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^which is exactly why unfortunately a lot of students at the top schools don’t adjust quickly enough. The HW doesn’t relate much to the actual midterms and is not weighted as much.

    Reading from the textbook/doing homework is not as helpful in high school when most professors rarely use the text or deviate significantly.
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  • CALSmomCALSmom 740 replies8 threadsRegistered User Member
    @cheetahgirl121 your D’s freshman experience sounds almost exactly like my son’s first year Calc at his school. He squeaked out a C in the class, cursed the upperclassmen who pushed the curve (mostly the engineering students) and chalked it up to the new reality. He’s learned how to adapt to the rigor and pace of STEM classes at his school and deals with it. He was so happy when Calc was over though! He came home for summer that first year with stressed out skin...poor thing
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  • PostmodernPostmodern 1160 replies91 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Not just the ivies, also. One of the smartest kids I know, who was a strong student at the top magnet school in our state, came home from CMU with two Cs. A level of hard he did not know. It's like hitting big league pitching.

    He loves it nonetheless.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 21102 replies219 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "It's a bit of an eye-opener when the first mid-term grades come back and the median is in the 60's. Thank God for curves."

    Agree it's not just the Ivies, but never understood the conducting tests so that the majority are failing it.
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  • coolweathercoolweather 5878 replies82 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited May 2018
    The only US HS testing systems I know that have tough grading are the AMC contests organized by the Mathematical Association of America. The mean score is 50/150.
    edited May 2018
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  • coolweathercoolweather 5878 replies82 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^ To answer your question, we probably need to know what are the goals of college education and how HS students are admitted to colleges.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 39194 replies6984 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    To answer your question, we probably need to know what are the goals of college education and how HS students are admitted to colleges.
    Which is beyond the scope of this thread.
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  • youceeyoucee 1312 replies0 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @coolweather Our son did those math competitions last year and I think it was probably good prep for college to realize that you’re not always going to be perfect. You can get less than half right at some levels and still be in the top 25% of the country. I think it helped toughen him up when he got some scores that were way less than anything he had received before. Sometimes you have to place your trust in the curve and not freak out.
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5493 replies1 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "The same thing happened to me when I went to UT-Austin."

    I definitely agree that this issue is not limited to Ivy League schools. For many students university is going to be a significantly step up from high school. Some come in well prepared and/or find they can handle it, many have a bit of a struggle until they get used to the pace. I only recall a very small number when I was in university who couldn't handle it and needed to drop out.

    I definitely needed to step up my effort quite a bit way back when I started university.

    My youngest just finished her freshman year at a very good small university, but definitely not Ivy League. One of her classes was into to biology for biology majors. The class average on the first mid-term was 50%. I don't think that this is all that unusual.

    This may be a good time to remind next year's college freshmen to expect college/university to require a step up from the pace that they are used to, regardless of where they will be starting in September.
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