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Calc 3 and Linear Algebra

  1. Feb 18, 2016 #1
    Hi all!

    I have an important decision to make for the summer of 2016 and I need some advice from some who have taken these courses. I need one biology lab elective to graduate, but it is a field lab and it runs from from 5/13 - 6/19. Because it is a field lab, I will not be able to take other courses during this timeframe.

    However, I need to take Calc 3 & Linear algebra before to satisfy my math minor and make an easier transition into a mechanical engineering MEng program. The problem is these courses start on 6/20 and go until 7/17, giving me 4 weeks in each class. I meet 5 days/week for 4 hours/day for calc 3, and linear algebra for 4 days/week, with 3 hours in between those classes.

    I do not want to spend any more time/money in my undergraduate career and want to graduate by the time of summer 2016.
    I am not worried about being stressed out or overloaded.

    My question is, how difficult are these two courses and do I have greater than a 50% chance in getting an A in these classes if I devote all of my time to studying?

    I would appreciate any advice.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 18, 2016 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Despite your goal of graduating by the end of summer, taking both of these classes in the compressed time frame of a summer quarter seems a bad idea to me. Sitting in class for 7 hours a day most days is not the most conducive to understanding. If there is something you don't understand in the first or second hour one day will make it difficult to follow subsequent material.
    Without knowing how you did in the preceding courses makes it difficult to predict how well you'll do in these two courses. Calculus 3 is no snap, as it will probably involve infinite series and multiple integrals. Linear algebra is often the first course that math majors have difficulty in, due to many of the problems being proofs, which is very different from the "find the derivative of ... " or "calculate the antiderivative of ..." types of problems with their cookbook set of rules to apply.
  4. Feb 18, 2016 #3
    Hi Mark, I received an A in calculus 1 and just took my first exam in calculus 2. Grade is pending. It covered integration with parts, trig substitution, and partial fraction decomposition. Out of 15 questions, I had difficulty with one question until after the exam when I tried doing it again.

    Thanks for the feedback. If linear algebra is as hard as it sounds, I should probably find a way to make a different schedule.
  5. Feb 18, 2016 #4


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    It would help if you posted the contents/schedule of the linear algebra and calculus 3 class.
    Do you have experience with proofs?
  6. Feb 19, 2016 #5
    Of course! My apologies for not doing so in the beginning.

    Calc 3: The calculus of vector-valued functions and of functions of more than one variable. Partial derivatives, multiple integrals, line integrals, surface integrals and curvilinear coordinates. Lagrange multipliers; theorems of Green, Gauss and Stokes. Applications.

    Linear: Systems of linear equations, vector spaces, linear dependence, bases, dimensions, linear mappings, matrices, determinants, quadratic forms, orthogonal reduction to diagonal form, eigenvalues and geometric applications.

    I do not have any experience with proofs.

    I also got my first calc 2 exam back and got a 94 on it. Mistakes on it were simple, forgetting to write dx on a integral and reusing U when repeating integrating with parts.
  7. Feb 20, 2016 #6
    Those will be your only two classes at the same time? Calc III and Linear Algebra?

    Do it. Especially if you don't have other commitments, you can definitely do it. Just cut procrastination to one afternoon a week or something, haha. Even if you don't get an A in both courses, is that worth the extra time and money in undergrad? I mean, if you have the money to spare, the decision's yours.

    Advice: Khan Academy has a great Linear Algebra section, but doesn't cover 100% of a course in it. Multivariable is similar, though I found Khan Academy less helpful than just reading the book. But a big tip is to have at least one person to talk to if you're stuck on a problem.
    Also, though I haven't done this myself, I was told by other students that using Mathematica or MATLAB/Octave to visualize the stuff in Multivariable helped. The functions, 3-D space, projections, etc.
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