College Algebra

Discussion in 'All Other Discussions' started by Sapper Woody, Sep 29, 2015.

  1. Sapper Woody

    Sapper Woody
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2011
    Messages:
    2,112
    Likes Received:
    104
    First off, we need a science and math forum, at least until I graduate with my degree! :laugh:

    As some of you know, I am working towards my physics degree. I am technically a first semester freshmen, as none of my unaccredited Bible college credits count for anything in a public college. This is fine; I wasn't expecting them to.

    When I tested for aptitude, I tested out of any remedial math, and straight into college algebra. This is good for my degree path, as I'll be able to take college algebra this semester, trigonometry next semester, calculus I in the summer, and then jump right into my degree courses next fall. (Calculus I is a prerequisite to all my degree courses, with Calculus II and III being eventual prerequisites.)

    While it's good for my degree path, I essentially skipped some things. The highest math I did in high school was algebra 2 (and that was over a decade ago!). The highest science was a self-taught physics.

    Now, I feel that compared to the general public, I am excelling. I am scoring a 99% so far in college algebra this semester. However, I feel that compared to myself, I have to do extra work to learn the material.

    Edited to add: Thought it might interest some that the degree path I am choosing will serve three functions. Once I graduate, I will be fully equipped to go into research; I will be a fully licensed high school teacher; and I will have taken all the prerequisites for medical school, should I choose that path.

    For instance, last night my homework used the quadratic formula for about 10 problems, and I had never used the quadratic formula before. I had to look it up (and promptly wrote it down on my dry erase board next to my desk) and learn about it in order to use it. (Finding the x-intercept of a parabola.)

    Basically, I'm looking to see if anyone else took these courses, and if they have any tips on things to know and look up, or any tricks on making it easier to learn.

    Edited to add: I thought it would interest some to know that my degree path is threefold. Once I get my degree, I will be fully equipped to begin research, I will be fully licensed as a high school teacher, and I will have taken all the prerequisite courses to enter medical school, should I choose to go that route.
     
    #1 Sapper Woody, Sep 29, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 29, 2015
  2. InTheLight

    InTheLight
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2010
    Messages:
    16,188
    Likes Received:
    611
    I went to the U of Minn Institute of Technology for electrical engineering. I subsequently got a job researching semiconductor materials for SDI applications (mainly infrared sensor materials, but also ultraviolet sensor materials). I worked directly under scientists that had PhD's in physics. I had to take three trimesters of calculus, then vector analysis, differential equations, multivariable calculus, etc.

    Are they telling you that you only need three trimesters of calculus to meet the requirements of your degree? Because that doesn't sound like it's enough for a four year degree.

    At 99% in college algebra you are doing great. Keep up the enthusiasm and hard work. You have a sound plan for a career ahead of you. Don't give up.

    Anyway, there aren't any tricks to learning this material except for repetition, repetition, and more repetition. Make sure you write down the problem and work it step by step on paper. Don't skip and do the "easy part" in your head and then write down the answers. Always show your work.

    Although I got all A's in high school math and pre-calculus I found university level calculus to be difficult. However, the application of calculus inside of physics problems was interesting and I found it to be easier to grasp. In calculus, moreso than in algebra, every thing you learn builds on your previous lessons. You can't just "wing it" for a little while and then say you're going to comprehend it later. Be prepared to study at least an hour, maybe two hours, for every hour of class time you have.

    Here's one of the differences between high school algebra and college calculus.
    High school homework assignment: "For tomorrow, do problems 1 though 21 odd numbers only. There will be an open book test on Friday on chapter 4."
    College level calculus: "For tomorrow do problems 1 through 39. There will be a test on chapters 3 and 4 on Friday."
     
    #2 InTheLight, Sep 29, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 29, 2015
  3. Sapper Woody

    Sapper Woody
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2011
    Messages:
    2,112
    Likes Received:
    104
    My prerequisites will be Calc I, II, and III. To get to them, I need to go through College Algebra and Trigonometry. Those are just the prereqs. In the course of the degree, I'll be taking several physics courses which will build on the maths that I take (Calc I is a prereq for Phys I, Calc II for Phys II, etc.) It's also recommended that I take Calc IV.

    Coming into the college field after 7 years of the military, I think I have a leg-up on newly graduated high schoolers.:laugh: The physics faculty was impressed when I walked in with a spreadsheet of all the courses I intended to take per semester all the way through to graduation. We made some minor tweaks to it, though, in order to have me fulfill some other requirements for greater options upon graduation.

    I have had the tendency to do in my head what I could, ever since junior high pre-algebra, lol. I am trying to break myself of that habit. Being in new territory for me, I am definitely trying to memorize formulae, etc (such as the aforementioned quadratic formula), so I'm showing more work than I need to get the right answer. I'll make it a point to show all work, though. Repetition definitely can't hurt.

    Thanks for your response. I'm excited to get into my degree courses next year. This whole year is basically core college courses and prereqs.
     
  4. Rolfe

    Rolfe
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2014
    Messages:
    5,292
    Likes Received:
    391
    Sapper Woody- Good for you! You seem to be of the type who succeed, and I wish you the best. :thumbs:
     
  5. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2006
    Messages:
    38,287
    Likes Received:
    780
    And Satan said "Let's really mess with them and mix number and letters together and call it math."
     
  6. Use of Time

    Use of Time
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2014
    Messages:
    2,324
    Likes Received:
    98
    Good luck Woody! I know you'll do great.
     
  7. Dolour

    Dolour
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    0
    One could really think it might have happened that way... ;o
    The worst part about math in physics is memorizing all those letters(the number of forlumas you actually need to memorize is very limited in comparrison),
    if you dont wanna constantly look up how they resolve in a chart table, or youll end up with results of humongous fractions.
    Mind you how God is THE mathematicial, who loves to keep fundamentals simple, and that a beautiful equation is a short one!

    Aside from that @OT: Our modern way of doing Algebra is horribly abstract, and propably intentionally so.
    I can really recommend looking into ViHart's Youtube channel, shes got a brilliant way of, so to speak, "looking behind the numbers"
    and showing how maths nature is all way less bizzare, than Algebra would imply.
    This stuff if really priceless, dont be repelled by its childish appeal...
     
    #7 Dolour, Oct 1, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 1, 2015
  8. dyanmarie25

    dyanmarie25
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2015
    Messages:
    110
    Likes Received:
    16
    I took College Algebra class because it was a requirement in school although I was an English major. I really had a hard time understanding the whole concept of it and I almost failed the subject. After graduation, I still don't know how to apply what I have learned in College Algebra in real life. I mean, I realized it's really not that important in employment.
     
  9. FriendofSpurgeon

    FriendofSpurgeon
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2003
    Messages:
    3,052
    Likes Received:
    36
    Congrats on doing so well so far. Best wishes on your journey - though I don't envy you. I did my 5 quarters of calc - plus other higher level math courses - more than 25 years ago. I echo some of the prior responses. Here are my thoughts on this going forward.

    1. Repetition is key to getting it right. The 1:2 ratio of class to study time is about right - though it can be a little light as you move forward to your calc classes.

    2. Find a good professor that you can understand - and try to take his/her classes each semester. Nothing is worse than a poor calc prof.

    3. Find (or start) a good study good group. This additional accountability will be a good thing and you will be able to learn a lot from each other.

    4. Take advantage of the your profs' office hours when you need help. PS - you will need help at some point in time.

    5. Stay up to speed on things. Since each section builds on the prior one, there are very little opportunities to "catch up." If you get behind, then you are out of luck.

    6. Find your "best" class time. For me, it was the morning. Take your calc classes when you are at your best mentally.

    7. Try not to schedule a class prior to your calc classes. Put at least an hour of free time before hand so that you will be able to prepare for class -- especially if there is going to be a test. This will provide a good time for review.

    Best wishes!

    [Note - I have never used any of my calculus classes - other than the way that it teaches you to think. However, I asked my son - who is a Research Assistant in ME - how often he really uses calculus. The response -- every day.]
     
  10. matt wade

    matt wade
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Messages:
    6,156
    Likes Received:
    76

Share This Page

Loading...