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Schools Can I take College Algebra and Trig at the same time?

Hello everyone,

After about 6 years I'm finally getting out of the military in May and start going to school full time starting in the fall. I want to do engineering, but I know I'm behind in math and am worried about starting calculus. I want to improve my math by taking both College Algebra and trig during the summer at a community college. The classes are both 11 weeks long.

Brief history on my math:

Growing up, I did fairly well in math. I can grasp the concepts quick. I got As in freshman algebra and sophomore geometry back in high school, but I screwed up right after that. By screwing up, I mean I sat next to my friends when in Algebra 3-4 honors my junior year and I was destroyed. I wouldn't pay attention because I was distracted by friends. I believe I somehow got a C my first half of the school year, but a D the last half. I stopped taking math after that because I knew I was going to the military first and didn't care (immature and stupid, I know).

About a year ago, I took college Algebra online while stationed overseas. I ended up being very busy during the term, but managed to get a B. I honestly could have gotten an A. That was a year ago and I know I need to take it again.

My question now is, do you all think it is okay to take both college Algebra and trig at the same time to help prepare myself for calculus? I know for a fact I need to take trig because of how long its been, but I also feel that I really need to take Algebra again. I've forgot many of the equations and never fully understood them all. I want to be more confident in math skills when starting calculus.

Dr. Courtney

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What is the real goal here? Fulfilling pre-requisites for college coursework, or actually learning the material?

If the goal is actually learning the material, it is hard for us to assess your current level of preparation or whether you can handle the pace of two courses at the same time.

A smart on-line learning program like ALEKS will adjust itself your your abilities and let you work at a comfortable pace whatever your level of preparation. I'd start by signing up for Algebra 2 or College Algebra and seeing how you do in the first few weeks. If that is comfortable, then sign up for Precalculus and work on both simultaneously. If not, stick with Algebra before moving to Precalc.
I'm inclined to agree with @Dr. Courtney. The topics in the algebra course and the trig course are more-or-less sequential, so that some things that are presented in the trig course assume that you are able to use techniques presented in the algebra course. Since it has been more than six years since you were in high school, some of what you learned there might be forgotten.

A lot of my advice depends on your level of knowledge right now. If you think there's a chance you could do both classes at the same time, sign up for both. If you find in the first couple of weeks that you can't follow the trig, drop that class. I wouldn't wait a couple of weeks to sign up for the trig class, as Dr. C advises.

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