So it’s your freshman year at Indiana University. Maybe you’ve successfully avoided the freshman 15 with enough visits to the SRSC. Maybe your random roommate has turned into your best friend. But don’t be fooled, the biggest challenge is still waiting: MATH-M118 Finite Mathematics.
Go where no IU freshman has ever gone before and actually earn that A in Finite math.
Get Your Ass to Class
Walking to an 8 a.m. in the winter is undisputedly one of the worst things about Indiana University. The grounds crew probably did their best to clear the sidewalks and dumped as much salt as possible, but there is still a high probability (don’t worry, you’ll learn about probability in depth in finite) that you’ll slip and eat it on your way across campus. To add insult to injury, there might not even be an attendance grade so your struggle to get to class may not be rewarded with points. “Attendance wasn’t mandatory but if you want decent grades then it basically was,” said Indiana University junior Ally Burdick.
No matter how tempting skipping class may be, resist. “Skipping a class early screwed me for Webworks,” said IU senior Jack Keefer. “The professor wasn’t the most engaging but they explained it much better than what I got from reading the book.”
They say one is the loneliest number. When it comes to nauseating math problems, misery loves company. Find your people early on and work as a group. Make sure your professor has okay’d group work first; you don’t want to get on their bad side. “A girl on my floor in my dorm was in the same class as me,” said Burdick. “We went to class together and tried to understand everything and studied together too.” Working with a group keeps you on track with the syllabus and holds you accountable if you start skipping classes or assignments.
Think Teacher’s Pet
Don’t forget to include some ringers in your study buddy network. Reach out to the TA’s and the professor. They know the in’s and out’s of the course better than anyone, so utilize that knowledge. “I didn’t really like my professor, but I still found myself emailing him when I had questions,” said Burdick.
An added bonus of becoming a regular at office hours? If you’re just barely missing that A, your professor is more likely to consider offering extra credit if they’ve seen your face consistently in class and in their office. Your extra effort could pay off in the end by maintaining your GPA. “Office hours are great because you usually get one on one time with the professor to ask the questions you actually care about,” said IU senior Jaron Kaufman. “They can help you with what you need instead of teaching a whole class. Plus it shows you actually care about the class.”
So let’s say you’ve reached the midterm and it went about as well as Mariah Carey’s performance on New Year’s Eve. Don’t be afraid to drop the course and try again next semester. “The girl I was working with ended up getting such bad grades on her exams that at one point no matter what she did, she wasn’t going to pass,” said Burdick. “She retook it and passed the second time.” Sure you may feel like you’ve wasted your time, but the second time around you’re already ahead and you know what to prepare for.
In the end, if attending an 8 a.m. math class is just not your style, don’t be afraid to branch out. Research other options. Maybe calculus is a better fit as far as required math goes. Or talk to your advisor about taking finite through a community college online. Those courses allow for a more flexible schedule and the ever-important use of a calculator throughout the class, which can be the key to success for some. Just make sure it transfers as the correct credit back to IU.