Moving on Up: The Peer Advisors Talk About Their First Upper Division Math Class

What was your first upper div class at Cal?


Lakshmi: My first upper division class in general was Stat 134, but in the math department, my first were 113 and 172 (at the same time)


Wan: My first upper-division Math course is 110, linear algebra.


Winnie: My first upper division class was Math 110.


Which semester did you take the class?


Lakshmi: I took 134 my freshman spring, and 113/172 my sophomore spring.


Wan: I took it in my first transfer semester (Junior year).


Winnie: I took 110 my sophomore spring.


What was your experience — good? bad? terrible? why?


Lakshmi: They were hard. I didn’t go to school freshman fall, so freshman spring was my first semester at Cal and Stat 134 is not an easy class. Math 113/172 did not go well either. Basically I took a lot of classes without taking the not required but recommended prerequisites and it was a struggle.


Wan: To be honest, I really wish that I could have chosen another upper course instead. As a transfer student, I took my lower-division linear algebra 4 semesters ago at the time I took 110.

As a result, I had forgotten almost all the key materials in linear, and suddenly had to admit the proof-based linear course. It was very difficult for me to learn linear algebra in a short time. Although most students and advisors suggested me to take 110 as the first upper-division course, I think for transfer students, it depends on the sequences you choose a course. If I took lower linear and then upper linear right after, it would be much easier for me to make the transition in my first transfer semester.


Winnie: To me, 110 was like the second and the more difficult part of Math 54. Even though we went over similar materials in linear algebra, it was a lot more proof based. My experience with this class was a little rough because I had taken 54 three semesters ago, and I had forgotten about some materials. I wish I had reviewed 54 thoroughly before going into this class. Upper-division Math courses go fast and you are expected to have all the basic knowledge. If I had known 54 better when I started 110, I would probably have a better transition into upper division courses.


If you could do it again, would you have done the class at the same time. If not, what would you have taken instead?


Lakshmi: I think I would’ve taken Stat 134 at the same time. However, I would’ve made math 110 or 128a my first math upper division instead. 113 and 172 both had a lot of emphasis on proofs, which I found difficult because I hadn’t taken any proof intensive classes before. 110 really eased its way into proof writing, which is why I wish it had been my first upper div.


Wan: I recommend everyone to choose courses based on personal experience, i.e., the course makes you feel most confident and comfortable. If i had one more chance, I would have take Math 128A instead of 110. Math 128A is less proof-based compared to other upper courses. In this course, we learn how to use numerical methods to solve previous questions. So I think it is a great course to guide students into upper-division math course.


Winnie: I didn’t really regret taking 110 as my first upper-division courses, but I do think 128A is also another good choice when it comes to choosing the first upper-division courses. It focuses a lot more on computations, and it might be a good choice for those who know how to code (especially in Matlab).