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Buckeye05

Can't do Calc: What are my options?

19 posts in this topic

I know that the most obvious answer here is probably "not much", but I'm not quite ready to completely give up yet. 

A little backstory first. I've known I've had a major math issue my whole life, and I've spent the last several years trying to catch up to speed with extensive tutoring, classes, and the works. I've been trying to to learn the skills I need to get through these higher math classes later on, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that it just isn't going to happen. This in combination with my aspirations for a weather related career creates a frustrating situation to say the least. In the mean time, I'm about to finish my "plan B" major and will be working as a medical lab tech here soon. This will support me, but I'm just completely disinterested in the field to be honest.

So for the past month or so I've just been trying to see if there is anything else out there that will give me a shot at some type of career fulfillment. I have uncovered a few tentative leads, and I want to know if I should go for it or just suck it up and try to move on. The link below is probably the most interesting thing I've uncovered in my research. It mentions that "Even if you don’t have a degree in meteorology or a science field, you can still find emergency management jobs available with the National Weather Service, including positions as technicians, office directors and IT specialists."

http://www.emergency-management-degree.org/faq/what-emergency-management-jobs-are-available-with-the-national-weather-service/

Is this even remotely true? Are there actually job opportunities at NWS weather forecast offices for people who aren't fully degreed mets? I just wasn't aware of this until now, and I'm a bit skeptical. I would be MORE than happy to work along side meteorologists even if I'll never be one myself. So the supposed available positions for someone like myself are IT, meteorological technician, electronic technician, and office director (what?!). I'd think that if there is any route that would be remotely hopeful for me, it would be IT due to the fact that there is always some demand for that. Electronic technician also has my interest piqued. On the other hand, I'm very skeptical about the whole meteorological technician thing. That sounds like a position that isn't actually ever filled, or isn't anymore. I would think that the NWS would just hire already degreed meteorologists to do the meteorological tech stuff via some additional on-site training, especially given the funding issues. Another idea I had was county emergency management, as I know that they assist the NWS with storm surveys at times. That's just such a specific thing though, and an Emergency/Disaster Management degree is very broad and could land me somewhere else entirely. The last thing I want to cover is this:

http://distance.msstate.edu/geosciences/bomp/program_structure

MSU's "Bachelor of Science in Geosciences: Concentration in Broadcast & Operational Meteorology" program. No higher math, so I can get through it no problem. But my question is, would completing this be of any use to me whatsoever in terms of employment? It might look nice on my resume, but would it be able to do anything for me besides land me a broadcast/TV job? Anyway sorry about the wall of text, and any advice and answers to these questions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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I struggled with calculus as well.  It seems to start out easy and then quickly become complex.

It seems risky to want to work in meteorology when running away from part of the pre-meteorology curriculum.

If you do so, you will not get parity with other people in the field.  It just isn't worth trying to duck away from calc.

See if you can take calculus at a community college as have it count towards the degree that you want. 

Line up some private tutoring.  Make friends with other students in the class and do homework together

with others.   If you are really lucky, you can find an instructor that deliberately allows students to access

exams from previous years to use as study aids.

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5 hours ago, winterymix said:

I struggled with calculus as well.  It seems to start out easy and then quickly become complex.

It seems risky to want to work in meteorology when running away from part of the pre-meteorology curriculum.

If you do so, you will not get parity with other people in the field.  It just isn't worth trying to duck away from calc.

See if you can take calculus at a community college as have it count towards the degree that you want. 

Line up some private tutoring.  Make friends with other students in the class and do homework together

with others.   If you are really lucky, you can find an instructor that deliberately allows students to access

exams from previous years to use as study aids.

This here in bold is precisely is what I've been doing for the past few years, sans actual calculus because I have been unable to make it to that point.

Now this really sucks to admit, but I've been treading water in Algebra level math classes for the past few years. My goal was to build a strong base in Algebra that I would need to get through calc. Needless to say, this hasn't panned out. I've spent a lot of time with private tutors, including a physics/calc prof that I worked with for a pretty long time to help me get caught up. I paid a lot for his help but I think I left the poor guy exasperated. So I'm not really "ducking away" from calc, I just can't seem to get a firm grasp on the prerequisites to even think about taking it. At some point, I got tired of feeling stuck and also started tearing through this MLT program that i'm finishing up now. I recently cut my losses and just solely started focusing on MLT stuff. Despite this, I am having a hell of time putting this weather thing behind me. So that's where I'm at currently.

So now that that's established, it's pretty obvious i'm not looking for parity at this point. Nor am I necessarily looking to even work IN meteorology. I mentioned above that I'd be more than happy to work along side those who do, or have a career that is even vaguely associated with weather. So again, my questions remain, are these supposed IT and technician positions out there, are these positions ever filled by non-mets, what will the MSU program that I linked do for me, and are there other options i'm not yet aware of?

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On 12/30/2016 at 3:56 PM, Buckeye05 said:

http://distance.msstate.edu/geosciences/bomp/program_structure

MSU's "Bachelor of Science in Geosciences: Concentration in Broadcast & Operational Meteorology" program. No higher math, so I can get through it no problem. But my question is, would completing this be of any use to me whatsoever in terms of employment? It might look nice on my resume, but would it be able to do anything for me besides land me a broadcast/TV job? Anyway sorry about the wall of text, and any advice and answers to these questions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

That's only the geosciences classes. The actual degree (http://distance.msstate.edu/geosciences/bomp/degree_requirements) requires a minimum of 6 hours of math, and without calculus/differential equations, it's not a meteorology degree that would be accepted by the NWS. As the name of the degree states, it's a geosciences degree, with a meteorology emphasis. There are jobs that would be available to you with this kind of degree, though.

 

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On 12/31/2016 at 10:56 PM, huronicane said:

That's only the geosciences classes. The actual degree (http://distance.msstate.edu/geosciences/bomp/degree_requirements) requires a minimum of 6 hours of math, and without calculus/differential equations, it's not a meteorology degree that would be accepted by the NWS. As the name of the degree states, it's a geosciences degree, with a meteorology emphasis. There are jobs that would be available to you with this kind of degree, though.

 

Thank you for the reply. I already realize this wouldn't make me eligible for a NWS position, but I'm interested regardless. Any idea what kind of job opportunities that it could bring though? I'm assuming this would be limited to TV/broadcast careers, or careers not remotely related to meteorology?

Also, do you have any information on technician/Information technology positions with the NWS that would be good for me to be aware of? Thanks 

 

12 hours ago, Panes and Portlets said:

Military

It's crossed my mind but it's now or never. 

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5 hours ago, Buckeye05 said:

It's crossed my mind but it's now or never. 

If you want to be a professional forecaster and can't grasp the math then military is as good as it gets. They pay for your training then you are placed into a operational forecaster slot. Again, no math required. 

You could play the system since you said you are bout to finish your 4 yr degree and enter as a officer. I'm pretty sure the Air Force just waived the requirement that one must have a met or atmo degree to be a wx officer. Now if you went that route you would be more in a admin/supervisor/figurehead role instead of forecasting but the pay would be a lot more.

If you are interested just cut me a PM.

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I had the exact same problem when I was in meteorology school at NCSU. I was so terrible at math, even with tutors, to the point that I had to either give up my decade-long dream of becoming a meteorologist and switch majors or carry the weight and risk flunking out of school altogether. It was a depressing predicament. I brainstormed other areas in which I could excel and ultimately made the difficult but pragmatic decision to pursue an English degree instead. To be honest, my college experience was much more enjoyable after that as I didn't have the stress of math to worry about and could focus on my skills as a copy-editor and writer. Liberal arts degrees get a lot of flack and your talents might be better suited for more technical fields, to your benefit. But as long as you get your foot in the door while you're in school (for example I worked part-time at the school newspaper and for a local author) you'll be prepared to enter the real world with a degree, any degree. And there's nothing stopping you from staying interested in meteorology, as I certainly still am.

I can't offer guidance to your questions about IT-related jobs among meteorologists, but just wanted to let you know others have faced the same crossroads and have turned out okay -- well, for the most part. :) Whatever your decision, best of luck to you.

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I don't believe that you can't eventually pass, or even master, a calculus class - at least a "basic" calculus class.., the kind that say econ majors take. Calculus classes aimed at students in the physical sciences are harder.., and i might agree that not everyone can succeed in them.

If you are having trouble with algebra, even with a lot of effort, my guess is that your pre-algebra training is insufficient - i think you just need to find out where your weaknesses are and go back to that point and start there. 

the lower level calculus classes taught in college have a very "cookbook" approach - mostly, all you need to do is follow the steps and you will solve the problems. not much in the way of real mathematical thinking is required for these classes.

i even took a differential equations class that was very "cookbook" oriented - one of the easiest A's i ever got. the thing there was that i took the diffeq class in the engineering dept (i am not an engineer) rather than in the math dept. there was almost no abstract thinking required.., it was just "here's the problem.., and here's how to solve it"...

anyway - i don't think you should give up on learning enough math to do calculus.

 

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On 12/31/2016 at 10:56 PM, huronicane said:

That's only the geosciences classes. The actual degree (http://distance.msstate.edu/geosciences/bomp/degree_requirements) requires a minimum of 6 hours of math, and without calculus/differential equations, it's not a meteorology degree that would be accepted by the NWS. As the name of the degree states, it's a geosciences degree, with a meteorology emphasis. There are jobs that would be available to you with this kind of degree, though.

 

Please share!  I have such a degree and have found nothing in years.  I'd suggest to the original poster to take calc in a school that values how it's taught and how the students learn it.  Lots of practice outside homework assignments is key.  It took me way to long to realize that. 

I struggled mightily at a local university through differential equations.  Algebra for me was also not a strength of mine even though I have loved math my entire life!  It can make your calc life very difficult if you're slacking just a little in both algebra and trigonometry (nobody mentioned yet)!  It took me 8 total semesters to get through college level math that most engineering students can do in 4.  I had multiple college professors tell me that I should freshen up on my algebra and pre-calc/trig.  One of them basically scolded me in doing so after I went to scheduled office hours for guidance.  I felt so offended.

My last semester as an undergraduate was brutal while straggling through a final semester of elementary diffeq, upper level physics, lower level chemistry, and a research project.  Don't let that happen. 

Several weather buffs have similar stories I'm sure. 

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On 1/12/2017 at 1:56 PM, jgf said:

 

I don't believe that you can't eventually pass, or even master, a calculus class - at least a "basic" calculus class.., the kind that say econ majors take. Calculus classes aimed at students in the physical sciences are harder.., and i might agree that not everyone can succeed in them.

If you are having trouble with algebra, even with a lot of effort, my guess is that your pre-algebra training is insufficient - i think you just need to find out where your weaknesses are and go back to that point and start there. 

the lower level calculus classes taught in college have a very "cookbook" approach - mostly, all you need to do is follow the steps and you will solve the problems. not much in the way of real mathematical thinking is required for these classes.

i even took a differential equations class that was very "cookbook" oriented - one of the easiest A's i ever got. the thing there was that i took the diffeq class in the engineering dept (i am not an engineer) rather than in the math dept. there was almost no abstract thinking required.., it was just "here's the problem.., and here's how to solve it"...

anyway - i don't think you should give up on learning enough math to do calculus.

 

Seriously? Did you even read my posts. I'm sorry but these sort of posts are just borderline infuriating. Trust me, everything you have suggested, I have tried. I've spent way too much time, money, and tears trying to get to the root of this issue and retrain my brain to get through these classes, and I know for certain that it just isn't an achievable goal for me. But you "don't believe" that's the case despite the fact that you don't know me or what lengths I've gone to to try to make this happen. 

When you are about average to decent at math, you aren't going to be able to see how out of touch you come off as without being in my shoes. Sorry for the defensiveness, but I've had this conversation so many times with people and they just don't understand the extent of my math deficit until they witness it in person. It's extremely frustrating.

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16 hours ago, jgf said:

 

sorry to infuriate you...

but i still feel the same way.

Oh yeah I guess I just didn't try hard enough. Thanks for the eye opener.

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On 1/12/2017 at 1:56 PM, jgf said:

the lower level calculus classes taught in college have a very "cookbook" approach - mostly, all you need to do is follow the steps and you will solve the problems. not much in the way of real mathematical thinking is required for these classes.

i even took a differential equations class that was very "cookbook" oriented - one of the easiest A's i ever got. the thing there was that i took the diffeq class in the engineering dept (i am not an engineer) rather than in the math dept. there was almost no abstract thinking required.., it was just "here's the problem.., and here's how to solve it"...

I wish I'd had calc/diffeq classes like that (engineering school).  Calc II was an attempt to "teach by proof"--prof/TA would write out a proof on the board and you were expected to know how to solve things from that.  I was basically threatened ("I grade your exam, you know!") for asking that something be explained "in English, please"!

In diffeq we were taught "here's how you solve these types of equations".  Okay, fine.  "But how do I know which kind is which?  How do I know if this equation is this kind, or that kind?"  "Well, you just know".  "No, you 'just know'.  I, on the other hand, don't 'just know'".

 

At least in my experience, college-level math and engineering classes are taught in a very deductive manner that makes sense if you already know the material.  There's a very strong reluctance to any deviation from "rigorous" methods or any kind of practical, hands-on, or detail-level instruction.  Everything is high-level theory only.  They really don't like it when someone says "so what you're really saying is..." because it ruins their theory-land.

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I went to undergraduate school at a pretty good "highly competitive", but not great, smaller liberal arts college, with quite good science departments and very good engineering departments.

like a lot of schools, that school had two tracks for first-year calculus. They had an easier track which was basically one year long - 1 semester of differential calc, and one semester of integral calc. This was the "cookbook" class - it was mostly taken by humanities majors, as well as some science/econ majors who wanted a BA rather than a BS. I maintain that pretty much anyone with high school math through algebra could succeed in this calc sequence - i am not sure it even involved trig. I certainly don't agree that it was necessary to "already know the material" to get say a B. nearly all homework and test questions could be solved by following the steps outlined in the example problems.

The other track was much harder (different text books), and consisted of 3 semesters - differential, integral, and multivariable. this was mostly math and engineering students, as well as science/econ majors who wanted a BS. This sequence was not cookbook, and i was challenged by it. in this track, there were proofs, and it was common to see questions on exams that were not exactly like anything in the homework. 

Because i was an idiot and had no clue what i wanted to do.., i ended up taking both!

I will note that I am old enough that I was in college before it was common for students to have had calculus in high school. Today, many students going to "highly competitive" colleges have had some level of calculus in high school. My kid's high school offered two levels of first year calc - roughly equivalent to the levels i outlined above, as well as a pretty advanced multivariable class.., and a linear algebra class.  the kids taking multivariable and linear algebra, had all had the harder first year of calc in their junior year of high school!

 

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6 hours ago, jgf said:

 

I went to undergraduate school at a pretty good "highly competitive", but not great, smaller liberal arts college, with quite good science departments and very good engineering departments.

like a lot of schools, that school had two tracks for first-year calculus. They had an easier track which was basically one year long - 1 semester of differential calc, and one semester of integral calc. This was the "cookbook" class - it was mostly taken by humanities majors, as well as some science/econ majors who wanted a BA rather than a BS. I maintain that pretty much anyone with high school math through algebra could succeed in this calc sequence - i am not sure it even involved trig. I certainly don't agree that it was necessary to "already know the material" to get say a B. nearly all homework and test questions could be solved by following the steps outlined in the example problems.

The other track was much harder (different text books), and consisted of 3 semesters - differential, integral, and multivariable. this was mostly math and engineering students, as well as science/econ majors who wanted a BS. This sequence was not cookbook, and i was challenged by it. in this track, there were proofs, and it was common to see questions on exams that were not exactly like anything in the homework. 

Because i was an idiot and had no clue what i wanted to do.., i ended up taking both!

I will note that I am old enough that I was in college before it was common for students to have had calculus in high school. Today, many students going to "highly competitive" colleges have had some level of calculus in high school. My kid's high school offered two levels of first year calc - roughly equivalent to the levels i outlined above, as well as a pretty advanced multivariable class.., and a linear algebra class.  the kids taking multivariable and linear algebra, had all had the harder first year of calc in their junior year of high school!

 

This is all water under the bridge now, and I've moved on, but I can't emphasize enough that you don't have the full picture here.

Your first (false) assumption is that I did reasonably well in and was able to build vital skills via my high school math course. You specifically mention that anyone who went through algebra in high school shouldn't have trouble with a calc course. The only high school math classes I ever could scrape through were the most remedial ones for each grade level. I was unable to retain the basics of algebraic manipulation from year to year. This meant literally starting from scratch each year, and resulted in me never establishing a firm foundation in algebra, as I could not build on the skills I was supposed to have learned. Then bam, time for college. Obviously, this dramatically widened the already existing achievement gap in terms of my math skills, which brings me to my next point. 

Are you seriously trying to say that it isn't necessary to have a firm grasp on prerequisites before taking calc, and that any reasonable person could end up with "say a B"? That is literally the exact opposite of what any of the various credible source told me regarding what I would need to already know. I asked around a lot, and the consensus was that I needed absolutely airtight algebra skills to be able to move forward in math. But I guess I should take your word for it, based only on your own personal experience. And that's the entirety of your basis for your statements; your own, specific, personal experience, which you apparently have established can be applied to to every single person in the face of the earth. Solid logic. 

All sarcasm aside, your comments never even addressed the point of this thread, which was alternatives. But thanks for demonstrating your inability to comprehend that your own personal experiences and abilities do not reflect those of everyone else, and instead simply casting doubt on my own personal discipline and character. 

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1 hour ago, Buckeye05 said:

 

Are you seriously trying to say that it isn't necessary to have a firm grasp on prerequisites before taking calc, and that any reasonable person could end up with "say a B"? That is literally the exact opposite of what any of the various credible source told me regarding what I would need to already know. I asked around a lot, and the consensus was that I needed absolutely airtight algebra skills to be able to move forward in math.

my very first post in the thread addressed the issue of insufficient proficiency in algebra

yes, of course it's critical to have a good working knowledge of algebra before taking even a basic calculus class

what i said in that post was that you need to go back to whatever level your weakness starts at, and learn from there - that might even be pre-algebra stuff - fractions, decimals, geometry, and so on...

if you do that - and it might take a year or two - i am confident that you can reach a level of preparation that will enable you to succeed in basic calculus class

based on your previous posts, i am sure you won't agree, so let's agree to disagree

 

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35 minutes ago, jgf said:

my very first post in the thread addressed the issue of insufficient proficiency in algebra

yes, of course it's critical to have a good working knowledge of algebra before taking even a basic calculus class

what i said in that post was that you need to go back to whatever level your weakness starts at, and learn from there - that might even be pre-algebra stuff - fractions, decimals, geometry, and so on...

if you do that - and it might take a year or two - i am confident that you can reach a level of preparation that will enable you to succeed in basic calculus class

based on your previous posts, i am sure you won't agree, so let's agree to disagree

 

Regarding the first bolded part, as I mentioned, this exact game plan was the first few years of my college level schooling. It did not work. I hit a ceiling at around Algebra II where I could not go any further, even with an insane amount of tutoring and studying. The courses had the step by step "cookbook" approach you mentioned with a list of steps written out, along with accompanying examples. 

Regarding the second bolded point, trust me, I felt the same way at one point. I'll never forget my senior year high school math teacher keeping me after class and saying "You just don't have the skills, and maybe never will", regarding my desire to work my way up to higher math. I'll always remember hearing that. Believe me, I wanted to prove her wrong and throw it in her face more than anything, and my "heart was in it" as much as it could be at the time. All I can say it was a lesson for me that some things just don't pan out, even if you give it your all. That's the point i'm trying to make.

Anyway this conversation accomplishes nothing, so if anyone else decides to post in the thread, I'd really prefer it to be regarding alternative career paths (the original purpose of this thread).

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I'm not unlike the OP, just at a higher level:  very very high end science skills, ended up at a top atmospheric science program, but (relatively) very weak in math compared to my peers.

Unfortunately, the answer is to get the hell out of weather AS A PROFESSION.  Stay interested in it!  Forecast as a hobby.  Spend your coffee break surfing the NOAA website.  But nothing sucks more than sucking at your job, and without high level math you will always be working with a handicap - even if you shouldn't be, you'll always be getting worse opportunities and you'll always be judged.

Everyone has a skill set that's strongest for some jobs and weaker for others.  The biggest mistake you can make in life is working in something you're weak in because you "love" it.  No one loves having a ****ty, poor-paying, dead end job when they're 40.  Work in what you're good at, get paid, get success, and then use your savings to chase hurricanes in August and LES in December.

Just my $0.02.  But I don't think you should regret a thing.

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