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Can I learn Calculus II on my own?

  1. Sep 6, 2015 #1
    I don't know how this happened by college has given me credit for Calc II even though I didn't take it. I took AP calc I but not AP calc II, but the college has given me credit for both. I am a Civil engineering major and I am wondering if I should try to audit the class next semester (meaning I would just sit in the class for no credit, and I wouldn't take the tests), or could I learn calc II from online videos and/or other materials. I'd hate to pay to take a class I already have credit for ( although financially that wouldn't be a problem) and I'm already gonna be spending 5 years getting my bachelors, I don't want to make that any longer.

    My three questions are:
    1. Could I make it through a Civil engineering bachelors program teaching myself calc II?
    2. Could I make it through a Civil engineering Masters program after teaching myself calc II?
    3. If I was able to do 1 and 2, would I be capable of being a good engineer after having never formally taken calc II in a classroom?

    Any advice from engineers would be helpful, thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2015 #2
    Ah, yes, this also happened to me. I took AP Calc in high school and somehow got credit for calc 1 and 2. I "retook" it anyway. I highly suggest you do the same, or at least audit it, as you suggested.

    Some parts you can learn by yourself (integration by parts), but other parts are more difficult (sequences and series). Honestly, it can't hurt to just audit the class.
  4. Sep 7, 2015 #3
    Yes, that is possible. Whether it is likely or a good idea depends on a lot of factors.
  5. Sep 7, 2015 #4
    What factors would it depend on?
  6. Sep 7, 2015 #5
    Mainly how good you are at self-studying, how smart you are, how much time you are willing to invest in this, how much discipline you have, which books you choose to study from, etc.
  7. Sep 7, 2015 #6


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    I would agree that it is possible but difficult. If you just completed Calc I via AP in HS, but got credit for Calc I and Calc II, my intuition is that you really thrive in a classroom environment and probably would really struggle with self-study. An audit or simply retaking the course in order to be solid on the material is probably in order. The level of math that you finished in HS is about par for the course for an entering Civil Engineer. If you could do Calc II review in the first rather than second semester, this would make a lot of your second semester classes easier.

    Colleges are notorious for the math-physics-chemistry death march. People who take these college classes for the first time in college have a roughly 50% flunk rate in each of them, in part because they are so intensely learning new material all at once. If you are ahead in the math, it makes a huge difference in your success in the science and engineering classes that use it. Otherwise, one misstep in math or any other class can sink you. But, if you have the math, a lot of the substantive courses can be relatively elementary.
  8. Sep 7, 2015 #7
    Just take the class. Contrary to what you may think it will take less effort on your part. Just having a professor to empathize with when you're learning the material will make it a lot less strenuous, and you'll be able to meet people in class to study with and start networking among the students. Making good study friends is a really important part of college, and Calc 2 is a good class to do that since a lot of people struggle with it and look for help from each other.
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