Plebe Chemistry Sucks

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by Copenhagen, Sep 13, 2016.

  1. Copenhagen

    Copenhagen Member

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    Greetings All,
    I am once again seeking your wisdom and advice. My plebe is struggling in chemistry...just failed the first big exam. Plebe is already working with teacher for additional instruction and is seeking a tutor. I believe the lack of time to spend on the material is the root cause of cadet's challenges. Cadet is on a core squad team. Any advice on time management or working through plebe chemistry?

    As always, many thanks for your great insights.

    'Hagen
     
  2. Casey

    Casey USMA 2015

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    Has your plebe set up a semester schedule noting all graded assignments so they can track how busy they will be week to week? Tying mine into outlook was the best habit I took for time management out of the Academy. Not only did I know due dates, I was also able to block out periods I knew I would have obligations (practice, class, travel for games, etc.) and see it visually. It helped me plan on my weeks better and take advantage of free time (aka the weekend generally) to get ahead of work so I wasn't overwhelmed during the week.

    If they don't have this set up, have them set it up. Most Corps squaders have to do this, particularly if they're involved in any of the RS programs, already and I'm sure you've seen a copy of the excel version that floats around that should be a blank semester with day 1/2 designations and holidays/football games noted on it.

    Next step that could be helpful which my company utilized as well was, if you are doing any kind of weekly report as a TL for your plebe up that involves them reporting grades, have them also include what graded assignments they have coming up and a note in it whether they have started/feel prepared to handle the material. It serves as a trigger more for them to be looking ahead, realizing they're going to have to tell you their progress on events, to start planning.


    Different resources/thoughts to think about:
    -Depending on the sport, their team probably has academic tutors available as well to utilize during study hall periods and during off hours that may help besides AI.
    -Ask them if they have a teammate (i.e. upperclass) that has gone through the course that they trust and was good at the material. I had two teammates I would always turn to with questions (actually brought problem sets to practice at times) when I was stuck. Saved time because I didn't have to go find these people, they weren't going through the material at the same time so they already had a clue of what was going on in the class and had done extremely well, and they had a vested interest in helping me because we were friends on and off the court as well making sure they didn't lose a starting player to the line up (yep that almost happened before nationals although that was because of swimming. I hate swimming still).
    -Find your old notes, quizzes, WPR's, etc. for the course and give them to the plebe. If you don't have them or they aren't as helpful as they could be, find that smart classmate in company that you know that still has these materials and make copies. Barring that, your company study room probably has some materials too, depending on how cool your company is, how well your last couple academic officers have done their job, and whether or not they've been lost in all the barracks shuffling around.
    -Have the cadet think about enrolling in one of the RS programs (speed reading ftw, study skills, etc.). For those cadets who didn't come into the Academy with a great foundation in time management, scheduling, study skills, etc., these classes can be a lifesaver if they get a chance to take them early. They only last a quarter but fill up fairly quickly.
    -See how plebe duties have been running. If they're being run after ESP ends (I fought this battle for four years as did a number of my classmates. We had almost won it and then I graduated. No idea if they tried to keep sticking to avoiding this), and your plebe isn't doing homework until after, they're probably not getting close to the sleep they need. Not a ton you can do to actually change this, but you can talk with your SL and PSG if it seems to be impacting their performance. This also applies to whether or not y'all are doing open door ESP. Depending on if you are in divisions or hallways, I know that open door ESP was a bane of my existence. You can talk with your CoC if you think this isn't helping (i.e. everyone and their mother would stop by our room if the door was open because we were right next to the Q and created numerous distractions that interrupted my work from getting done) to either suggest closed door ESP where you or the SL does periodic checks for the plebe to ensure he/she is actually using the time to study or move his/her work to the library.



    At the end of the day, you can't do the work for them. You can only help to create the environment and provide resources for them to use to succeed. There's a learning curve, which I'm sure you remember yourself, to time management at the Academy. People fail WPR's. As long as they don't make it a trend and you see progress and effort, don't necessarily jump all over the plebe. More stress added to his/her day isn't going to help. Don't stop caring though. Its a sign you're taking your job as TL seriously which you should be proud of.
     
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  3. Copenhagen

    Copenhagen Member

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    Casey,
    Thank you for such a thorough answer. I will pass this along to my plebe. No doubt others will appreciate your insights as well.
    'Hagen
     
  4. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    Excellent advuce above, even though I am observing through the USNA lens.

    Assure your plebe his brains WILL grow back (as many of our USNA sponsor plebes have been heard to say after struggling with plebe-killer Calc or Chem). He will - painfully - learn to do everything faster yet more thoroughly, get all the plebe military stuff handled, manage his time more precisely, and so on.

    Asking for extra instruction and finding help at the first sign of a struggle is indeed the key.

    Tell him you have faith in him and don't apply extra pressure; no doubt he is applying enough to himself.

    There will never be enough time, but military folks learn to triage and optimize, rather than maximize, some solutions. The baseline goal is to be academically, physically, military performance/conduct "sat." It may be ugly, it may be messy, but surviving to fight another day is key.

    This is probably the first time he has struggled academically. Try to envision his pride and self-confidence as he figures out how the place works and starts getting small wins.
     
  5. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    Casey has some terrific advice from the perspective of a cadet. I'm a biology professor and my (introductory) students took their first big quiz today, so I already know I'll have a bunch of panicked freshmen at student hours next week. Here's my standard spiel, from last fall, after midterm #2 in my course and in response to a CGA swab.

    http://www.serviceacademyforums.com...cally-in-his-freshman-year.45436/#post-448501
     
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  6. Casey

    Casey USMA 2015

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    Cooperate and graduate. I wouldn't have graduated without quite a few people, and hopefully I was able to return the favor before, and now after graduation for a few cadets. Trust me, I was in that guy's shoes as an athlete at the Academy myself. Don't let anyone use it as an excuse like some of my favorite football players used to, but it does add a different stress you learn to deal with. On the bright side, you'll get to BOLC and realize TRADOC is a joke in terms of amount and depth of material you're expected to learn. Flight school academics fall into that as well ;) Feel free to pm me with anything else you have questions on or want to talk Army.
     
  7. tug_boat

    tug_boat Member

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    Most excellent advice!!

    And to our readers, Ive said this a gajillion times, work hard on your math and chem.

    Push Hard, Press Forward
     
  8. raft11

    raft11 Member

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    I wish your plebe every success! Just asking out of curiosity of AP Chem in HS offered any preparation for the class taking now at WP?
     
  9. Copenhagen

    Copenhagen Member

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    Thanks for all of the replies....great advice! My plebe did not have AP Chemistry and has a weak math background. Thus, this adds to the struggles. Plebe is in rock math (lower level algebra course) and will probably need to go to summer school to make up the lost credit, so I am told. Friends and roommates apparently are not struggling, so chemistry challenges really are personal challenges. I think it AP Chemistry would have helped.
     
  10. tug_boat

    tug_boat Member

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    Good Luck to your Plebe. There are a lot of resources available for him.

    Push Hard, Press Forward
     
  11. civic29

    civic29 Member

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    The way chemistry works is a workbook to learn the lessons. Go over the workbook and study learning objectives and go to AI and your plebe will succeed
     
  12. Padre101

    Padre101 Parent

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    Can someone explain with rock math is. And if a plebe takes rock math, is it summer math mandatory?

    Also, suppose your child is actually good at math and could take a more advanced math class. Would it be advantageous to take a lower level math course to get a higher grade and thus raising his/her GPA which factors into the class rank ....which factors into what branch you can get....which also factors into what graduate school you can go to.....?
     
  13. VelveteenR

    VelveteenR Just gathering dust in the nursery...

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  14. USMA_ljm

    USMA_ljm Member

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    I also believe that rank is calculated with weighting to the level of course you are in similar to high school. So an 80 in Jedi math is worth more than an 80 in rock math.
     
  15. kittkatt

    kittkatt Member

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    OK--so this is an interesting and important question, particularly for those thinking about validating course work. Does anyone know for certain whether, in calculating a cadet's academic rank (and GPA), the USMA "weights" a cadet's raw grade score in a course based on a course's "level"?
     
  16. oldcorpsdad

    oldcorpsdad Member

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    From the "Red book" West Point academic course catalog concerning Rock Math:

    MA100 prepares cadets with background deficiencies in algebra and trigonometry for the core mathematics program. The course develops fundamental skills in algebra, trigonometry, and functions, through an introduction to mathematical modeling and problem solving. Since this course does not count toward graduation requirements; cadets enrolled in MA100 will forfeit an elective opportunity

    It also has all of the info for grading. West Point does not want you to take a lower level to get a better grade. They are not pushing Cadets to go for mediocrity, they want them to push themselves physically mentally and academically to their limits.
    If they take Rock math they lose an elective. Sometimes summer school is an option.

    For those helicopter parents: here is the link to the Red Book. Its a year old but is mostly up to date.

    http://www.usma.edu/curriculum/SiteAssets/SitePages/Course Catalog/RedBook_GY2017_20150501.pdf

    You think Chemistry is hard, wait for Physics. The Department of PANE and they are proud of it.
     
  17. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Just a dad

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    "Rock" math is USMA slang for the lowest section of Plebe math. "Rock" is not exactly a complimentary term.
     
  18. tug_boat

    tug_boat Member

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    I've made plenty of warnings about math, chem, physics and bio in some respects for a reason. Its college level academics and many high schools in general have not prepared many for this level of education. Especially West Point. There are some methods to the madness here. If a Cadet can not keep pace it is better to academic separate early in his/her 47 month stay. Department heads are monitoring the talents of Cadets and can guide them to fulfill Army needs. In other words, talent is identified early. And there are some very talented Cadets attending WP.

    Push Hard, Press Forward
     
  19. tug_boat

    tug_boat Member

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    As an example of some on the talented attending WP. Before I continue, this Cadet is an exception and very rare. Do not think you can follow his lead. The academy bent the rules allowing a 24 year old by six past the age limit. He had served in the Army as a prior enlisted, served three tours, and demonstrated exceptional leadership talent as well as the ability to handle the stresses of academics. He did have a struggle in the beginning having less experienced "Cadets" giving him instruction and direction. Once explained that these Cadets are also leaning and to let them learn from their mistakes. The light went on. He will be graduating this May.

    Another example. you do have legacy families who have earned their way into the academy. One family has a Firstie, Yuk and a daughter who is a Plebe. All three siblings were Valedictorians during their high school year and are doing very at WP.

    You will be recognized for your efforts not from others.

    Push Hard, press Forward
     
  20. 1337BeachedWhale1337

    1337BeachedWhale1337 Member

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    That is incorrect. All courses are weighted the same.
     
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