Class Validation

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Bean, Mar 30, 2011.

  1. Bean

    Bean Member

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    I received my appointment to USNA in February and recently participated in the Candidate Visit Weekend. I have taken AP Calc BC (scored a 5) and Calc 3 (with credit from CU) and have three full years of physics (AP Physics B and C) which is my intended major. Over my visit a number of the midshipmen I met admitted to intentionally doing poorly on the validation tests so they could retake the class. I was wondering what anyone knew about class validation because I would prefer not to repeat the same courses.
     
  2. Spanky58ggpt

    Spanky58ggpt Member

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    My understanding is that course validation allows you to move ahead to subsequent levels of a class, if required or desireable, or makes room for something else in your schedule. The end result is the ability have a minor, double major or possibly getting started on grad level work at one of the nearby colleges. It could also create a lighter load in upperclass years. A lot would depend on your goals and comfort level with the rigors of USNA academics. Academic advisors/company officers will probably discuss this with you during validation testing. I feel certain that there will be folks who advise both approaches, bottom line, you will have to decide what works for you. During CVW with DS one of the mids who was asked to speak with parents shared that his validations had allowed him to work on grad level courses with much less stress during firstie year as graduation and service selection approached. Seemed to be happy with his decision. Good luck. Go NAVY!
     
  3. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    If you feel confident in your ability to perform well in those higher level classes, go for it. But if you barely pass the validation test or don't feel very confident in the material, then I would advise just staying on a normal track because the academics here can run away from you if you're not careful.

    If you have any thoughts at all about attending graduate school, doing an honors program or independent research, double majoring/minoring, etc, it will definitely behoove you to be ahead in your matrix.
     
  4. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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  5. Bean

    Bean Member

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    Thank you all for replying so quickly. AF6872, the table was very helpful. I am hoping to get a PhD in physics some day so getting ahead is probably a good idea. I am worried that I won't do well on the validation tests, the midshipmen I spoke too said they were so tired they could barely function. I am confident I know the material, I'm not so confident I can prove it while half asleep. Do they really assign academic advisors as early as the validation testing?
     
  6. osdad

    osdad Member

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    Gaming the system by taking classes at a level below where you could/should be will probably not work - for several reasons.

    Do you think you'll put forth your best effort in a class you're bored to death with?

    And, if you do, the instructor will see that you already know the material and will suggest you belong in a more advanced class.

    Given your level of academic excellence, why not strive for the top? You'll do just fine and your success will be recognized.

    Also, while I applaud your goal to get a PhD, your primary reason for attending the NA is to become a naval officer. There are probably better places to go if your goal is to be the next Michelson or Planck.
     
  7. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    I strongly disagree with this. If you're confident in the material, getting ahead is beneficial. You sound pretty squared away academically, so go for it but avoid being overconfident. I know too many people who validated, for example, chem I or calc I and II and started out in chem II or calc III and were in way over their heads. Being ahead in your matrix is a really good thing, but only if you have decent grades.
    I was placed in an advanced calc class ("calculus with computers," which is more fast paced, doesn't allow calculators and includes computer programming) and it was an awful decision: I didn't know the material well enough from HS and got destroyed both semesters. I barely got Cs when I probably could have gotten Bs or As in normal calc classes, which consequently brought my QPR down a LOT and prevented me from being eligible for opportunities later in my time here.
     
  8. PositiveThinking

    PositiveThinking Member

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    This is from an email we received last night from our plebe explaining why he decided to cancel a planned overnight leave this weekend so he could have more time to study: "...I've never been so challenged in my life though, these classes are absolutely brutal. Usually this stuff will come easily to me, it's just work overload." The academics are difficult enough, but then all the military obligations are piled on top of it. It is very challenging even for the best students. It's a good thing he loves it and is right where he wants to be!

    Before I started to feel too sorry for him, though, he told me he was planning to take an overnight next weekend instead (after 12 week exams are over), so he will be able to have some fun after all! :thumb:
     
  9. MomoftheMagik

    MomoftheMagik Member

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    Re: Hurricane12 post:
    On the other hand, my son had taken two semesters of college chem...had been told about not validating and breezing through chemI at USNA. He wasn't sure he wanted to do that, but when he took the validation test he was sick (with what later turned out to be pneumonia) so he didn't even try. I asked if he could retake the validation, but he said he didn't really care to do that since he was on the fence about validating anyway. Long story short...(I know, too late) he thought he'd skate through chem, but it didn't turn out that way. It wasn't the material he didn't know, it was just the amount of work (and, imNSho, his attitude) that caused him to almost fail a class he probably didn't even need to take.

    Then there is his friend and company mate who validated several levels of Calculus and ended up getting a 4.0 last semester! So, my advice would be...take the validation test just like you would take any test. It is written to see where you should be. Do your best and see where that puts you. (and remember you will already be at a disadvantage...tired, achey and emotionally drained) If you love and excel in Calc and Physics, you will probably do fine. If you struggle once you are in your classes, you can always get help.
     
  10. MomoftheMagik

    MomoftheMagik Member

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    @PositiveThinking...Smart kid! He will be able to have more fun AFTER 12 weeks anyway!
     
  11. Bean

    Bean Member

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    osdad, I have no intention in any way of "gaming the system". I brought up the midshipmen's admitted efforts on the validation tests to say exactly the opposite. I don't want to be put in a class that will waste both the Navy's time and mine, which is why I was nervous about not doing well on the tests. I hope to be in the most challenging classes possible without overloading me.

    I must say I found your comment a bit offensive:

    "Also, while I applaud your goal to get a PhD, your primary reason for attending the NA is to become a naval officer. There are probably better places to go if your goal is to be the next Michelson or Planck."

    I have had eight interviews for service academies/ROTC; I trust that those men and women are more qualified to judge me, my motivations, and suitability for the Naval Academy than you. I don't mean to come across as confrontational or disrespectful but I worked hard for an appointment and you aren't really in a position to accurately question my motivation. I am more than aware that the primary purpose is to become a naval officer, I turned down a scholarship to MIT for USNA. I highly doubt the Navy would fault me for striving for higher education and I know that it won't hurt me as an officer or a leader. Please don't get me wrong, I understand and respect your point, I just feel you misunderstood most of what I said.
     
  12. engineer

    engineer Member

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    Bean - sent you a PM
     
  13. NorthernCalMother

    NorthernCalMother Member

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    Bean, I sent you a PM, too.
     
  14. Wickler908

    Wickler908 Member

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    If you're in the position, only validate enough classes to get ahead in your matrix by one semester. That's enough to do early grad school if you want it (without overloading) and you'll get the benefit of a slightly higher gpa if you are retaking classes.

    You WILL forget things during plebe summer. Don't expect to be able to pick up exactly where you left of in high school. Many people do poorly in classes they take early because of validations. Take the best of both worlds and aim to validate 15-18 credits.
     
  15. Hemingway

    Hemingway Member

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    Bean-

    I also sent you a PM.
     
  16. chouse12

    chouse12 New Member

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    From a current mid's standpoint-I was in a very similar situation and was able to validate both semesters of chem, calculus, one semester of english, and some spanish. I had the chance to validate more and honestly wish I did. I had to take several classes again that I took in high school; it was definitely an advantage having taken them previously, but trust me, it will be boring and feel like a waste of time to take them again.

    One problem most have regarding validation is to have a narrow view about the short term vs. long term. Yes, it will be more difficult taking more advanced classes but if you can validate them, you can certainly handle the workload. Also, the point about being able to pursue graduate opportunities and such is a great point. Validating classes gives you so many more opportunities and you should definitely try to get as far ahead as possible.
     
  17. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    I'm not going to advice you one way or the other.

    Just let me say this: HALF of everybody in your class will end up in the bottom HALF of their class - by definition. And, nobody comes in thinking it will be them. So, by definition, half the new appointees have the wrong perception of their abilities relative to their classmates.

    What you will do after graduation from the Naval Academy will partly depend on how well you do academically at the Naval Academy. There are many midshipmen who come in with big dreams, bite off more than they can chew, and end up compromising (out of necessity) on their dreams.

    For instance, I would say that less than half of those who enter the Naval Academy intending to be pilots will ever fulfill that dream. A good number who want to be a Marine - will not. Those who want to be in a submarine may discover that the submarine force doesn't want them. There are some very harsh realities that have to be accepted prior to attending the Naval Academy.

    For instance, you want to get a PhD. Do you plan to do that while you're in the Navy? You must first get your Master's Degree. When do you plan on doing that? After graduation? Only a handful of midshipmen are allowed to do that.

    You have to be willing to simply be a naval officer first.
     
  18. hotshot44

    hotshot44 New Member

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    validate as many classes as as you can. Especially BS ones like calc, chem, phys, gov. Though they can serve to pad your GPA, it is really not worth your time. You can really get stuck with a crappy teacher, and a few mistakes may have you sitting pretty with a B/C instead of an "easy" A. Especially with time constraints of plebe year, even the best students can really see a decline in academic performance due to your "plebedom" and the amount of time you waste being "trained" by the upper class.
    Most upper level math/science/ eng classes use more general concepts of physics and calculus to teach material. You're not going to have to know the little details of the base level classes, but instead the details and applications of those principles specific to your major and/or class.
    Time is precious here, you will appreciate it when you are an upperclass and only taking 15/16 credits with tons of free time compared to some of your friends take 19-20+ who never get any sleep. You will realize that free time/sleep time here is precious and you will enjoy every moment that you are not in class.
    For each credit you validate, multiply that by about 1.75-2.5, then multiply that by 16(weeks per semester), and that will be the amount of time(in hours) you will save and/or have available for other classes/napping/video games. It begins to add up... and you will free yourself up for the copious amounts of opportunities we have here.
    I know my answer was a bit verbose, but bottom line validate every class you can.
     

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