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Cal 3 question. Desperate need of advice!

  1. Jul 2, 2012 #1
    I am a Electrical Engineering pre-major at UW, and I am currently taking Cal 2 in the Summer. I find that most of the material is pretty simple to grasp; however my teacher can hardly complete an English sentence, and let alone clearly explain calculus.. The only reason that I am surviving it now is because I did my own research before the class on Cal 2 because I heard horror stories that it is hard. She is the only one teaching Cal 3 in the Fall and I just decided to drop it after I got a C+ on my first test. I really love math, and I want to learn it the correct way because I know that I will need it for the rest of my career. I am worried if I take a quarter off from math, that Cal 3 and the rest of my math classes will suffer because they are not in sequence. I am currently signed up for Calc-based physics, Programming II, and some lame English class for the Fall. Any advice would help.

    Did I make the right decision dropping Cal 3? Is Cal 3 possible to pick back up on if not taken in a direct sequence from Cal 2?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 2, 2012 #2
    Well, I think that if you have trouble learning form that professor, then it is okay to wait on the class as long as you don't immediately need it as a prereq class and it won't set you back.

    The good news is that calc 2 and 3 don't really need to be taken right away, you should be fine. I'd say that calc 3 is probably the easiest of the calc sequence (I don't know what it covers at your school, but at mine it was multivariate and vector calculus). The multivariate stuff almost feels like a rehash of the first calc classes, just with more variables. The vector calc stuff is more complex at times, but isn't bad as (at least for me) it was the first class we had seen it, so we started form ground zero on that.

    If you have trouble with any material, the site that helped me with ODEs and Calc 3 the summer before I took them was khan academy .org. The videos are really helpful, and there are tons of them.
  4. Jul 3, 2012 #3
    You definitely made the right choice. If your brain is a structure and your teachers are construction workers, you do not want the structure to eventually collapse due to one teacher's negligence.
  5. Jul 3, 2012 #4
    Okay thank you. I think Calculus-based physics will help keep calculus fresh in my head anyway.
  6. Jul 3, 2012 #5
    Its possible to pick it back up, I didn't have any math for a year after calc2 and then took differential equations, without any calculus 3 experience. Which I am told not necessarily the best idea, but passed it with a good grade. Just be prepared to work harder. :smile:
  7. Jul 3, 2012 #6
    Most students at my school go from calc 2 straight to diff eq then take calc 3. I think you should be fine.
  8. Jul 3, 2012 #7
    To those of which who said they took Differential Equations: Would it be academic suicide to take Programming 2, Calc-Based physics, and Differential Equations at the same time?
  9. Jul 3, 2012 #8
    No, Huskyguy. That courseload is common for second year undergraduates. Differential Equations tends to be a cookbook class.
  10. Jul 3, 2012 #9
    Yeah, that sounds like a normal course load, or at least nothing that'll be bad. I took my ODEs class as the same time I was doing my calc-based physics class, a programming class, and calc 3, and that all went super smoothly.
  11. Jul 4, 2012 #10
    Very weak excuse. Millions of students deal with bad teachers who are barely understandable, and they get by.

    I didn't even go to one lecture after my first Calc II lecture, and I ended up with an A in the course. Calc III is going the same way. All you need is the textbook and an online source (Paul's online notes worked wonders for me).
  12. Jul 4, 2012 #11
    Although a lot of students forget about all the resources available to them and a lot of the time it's all that's needed, but a good teacher is irreplaceable. If you're able to take a textbook and understand the ins and outs of a class with just that great, but don't say that a poor teacher is a weak excuse just because you managed an A in calc 2 without one.

    Also "getting by" is not what the original poster wants, he/she wants to fully understand the course.
  13. Jul 4, 2012 #12
    Yea not everyone learns the same way either. I for one can barely listen to lectures so a bad prof isn't the end of the world for me. Others rely heavily on lectures and professor office hours and need a good prof.
  14. Jul 4, 2012 #13
    If you can't self-learn the simple concepts of calc II, then you clearly do not have what it takes to be an engineer. This isn't high school where teachers are suppose to spoon feed you everything, and adapting to the fact that your education is your responsibility is the first lesson that should be learned through first year. Secondly, this isn't a course in differential geometry, it's calc II. The concepts are quite easy and there are many youtube videos that one can watch to basically learn everything from Calc II and even Calc III. Most math professors wouldn't be teaching this course in the first place because they don't want to, so the department forces some underpaid foreign researcher who can barely speak english to teach it.
  15. Jul 4, 2012 #14
    VERY weak advice.

    Anyway, to OP, calculus two was the hardest out of the calculus sequence in my opinion. As others have said, calculus three is really a repeat of calc one (outside of vector calc).

    I would agree with your decision to wait off taking calculus three until there is a professor you can understand teaching the class.

    Good luck!
  16. Jul 4, 2012 #15
    Did you read the original post? He is getting through the course now without the teacher and obviously is capable of self learning the course considering his current situation. He wants to fully understand the course and material, and having a crappy teacher might hinder that opportunity. If he has a better chance with another teacher, then so be it. If he wants to get by like you say, then maybe he should go ahead and get through the course with the sorry teacher by teaching it to himself from youtube videos?

    You're implying his capability of passing a course is either due to a good or bad teacher, that is not what he is saying. You can't seriously sit here and say some youtube videos are just as good as a GOOD teacher in class. But congrats on passing calc 2 without a teacher, and good luck on "getting by" calc 3 without one.
  17. Jul 4, 2012 #16
    Yes, I did. If he has no problem getting through the course, then why is he complaining about something that millions of students deal with every year?

    Calc II isn't exactly a "deep course". Other than an intuitive understanding of what the area under the curve is and perhaps series and sequences, the whole course is mindlessly memorizing algorithms and techniques. Again, this isn't a course on differential geometry.

    That's his problem, and he is free to do as he wish. But, he should not be complaining about a "bad teacher" as a reason to drop a course. This is something university students should get accustomed to in the first year. What is he going to do if there is a course in senior year that he needs and is only taught once a year by a bad professor? Is he just going to do what he does now and drop it and wait another year to graduate? What if the same professor is teaching it again?

    I did not imply that.

    I have yet to have a "good teacher", so I do not know what is defined as one. I've had competent ones and others who were incompetent. All have regurgitated from the textbook, and I have found many youtube videos that can explain concepts in a much more clear and intuitive way than my instructors. And with programs like "MITOpenCourseware", there is no excuse for not having a good teacher.
  18. Jul 4, 2012 #17
    From what I understand, he's not complaining, he's simply asking for advice. Getting through the course like you might do is not what he wants.

    Calc 2 may not be a deep course, but I found calc 3 very interesting and exciting in some sections. I had a good teacher that was enthusiastic about the material which made me excited to learn it. Although I can't say for fact, I believe a teacher less enthused would probably make me less excited to learn it and not fully understand what I do now and would probably have just done what it took to get an A.

    Again, I don't believe he is complaining. If you are wanting someone to congratulate you on your "self earned" A in calc 2, then again, congratulations.

    I'm sorry, maybe one semester you will manage a good teacher. Ask upperclassmen, I'm sure there is at least one good teacher at your school.
  19. Jul 4, 2012 #18
    If you need a good teacher (someone else) to feel enthusiastic about your major of study, then perhaps you should rethink whether it is truly what you want to do or not. Besides, he's an engineering major, not a math major. A deep understanding of these concepts and their motivation is not required. For example, if he were to take calc III, I doubt he would ever use the concept of a manifold or how to prove Fubini's theorem in his later classes. The only thing that would be of use to his studies is knowing the algorithms and how to use them and a few definitions, which can again be done quite easily without a good teacher.

    And please, no one here is looking for recognition. I'm not bragging about doing something that millions of students have done before me every year. However, the fact he needs a teacher to spoon feed him concepts has shown that he still hasn't learned arguably the most important lesson from first year college/university.
  20. Jul 4, 2012 #19
    You say that if I need a good teacher to be excited and fully grasp the material about my major of study perhaps I should rethink my major. Then go on to say he's an engineering major not a math major and a deep understanding of the concepts isn't required. Do you realize what a contradiction this is?

    I'm not a math major, as implied by my screen name I'm an ME major. So I should rethink my field of study because I had a good teacher that made me excited about the material that I otherwise might not have been excited about? Yet maybe I don't need the deep understanding and excitement and really only needed to know what pertains to my major? As in the ORIGINAL POST, he wants to really understand the material, not just mindlessly memorize formulas and how to use them so he can "get by" in later classes such as you suggest. Whether it will be needed in his career or not, he wants to really know the material. Having a good teacher or a teacher that you can't understand might possibly make a difference. What are you truly trying to argue here?
  21. Jul 4, 2012 #20
    Then he should rethink being an engineering major. And please, I doubt you would need to know how to prove every single theorem out of a Calc III textbook and know its historical motivation to do well in upper year engineering courses.
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