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Cannot start Uni for 4 years what can I do to prepare?

  1. Oct 21, 2012 #1
    Hello, so due to my job contract I cannot return to college for 4 years. I only graduated with a 2 year degree in business and want to go back to do an engineering degree. The highest math I have completed is trig but that was years ago I am 25 now. So now I am on my path to return to school for electrical engineering and was wondering what kinds of self study and other things I can do to prepare myself. I will be financially prepared for school so that is not something I am worried about.

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2012 #2
    If your planning on starting the degree from the beginning, as it sounds you are, I would say that basic calculus is your best starting point (and is probably the only thing you need for now). If you feel too rusty to start calc, then review some trig and advanced algebra. Certainly differential and integral calculus would be a plus going into school, and if you get through that, then move on to differential equations.

    Aside from math though: seeing as your planning on EE, I think you'd really do yourself a favor by learning some programming. As far as I'm aware (I'm a physics major but have several good friends who are EE's), most EE programming is done in C, C++, or the dreaded Assembler. With that said, my suggestion would be to start out with a relatively straightforward high-level language like Python. The syntax is pretty intuitive and it'll give you a good feel for how programming works; then when you move on to C, etc. it'll be a much easier transition.
  4. Oct 21, 2012 #3
    Buy the following books and do most of the problems in them:

    Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday
    Statics by Bedford and Fowler
    Dynamics by Bedford and Fowler
    Calculus by Stewart
    Elementary Differential Equations and Boundary Value Problems by Boyce and Diprima

    Plus try to find a book in vector calculus and one in chemistry. That should keep you busy for a year or two.
  5. Oct 21, 2012 #4
    If you really have sufficient time to study material.... I'd suggest trying to test out of courses when you first enter school down the road. You could look into CLEP and see if where you will be going accepts those exams. Could save you time.
  6. Oct 22, 2012 #5


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    I'm assuming you're in the military. The great thing is you don't have to do this alone. You should be able to take college classes at your education center taking Algebra, trig, even calculus at some places to help brush up your mathematical skills to the level needed. Use your TA to your advantage and try to take as many general education courses as possible. You may not be able to take calculus based physics but there usually is a algebra based physics and basic programming classes. Depending on your MOS/Rate you could possibly even get more stuff for free.
  7. Oct 22, 2012 #6
    I agree with all of these, except I would replace 'Stewart' with 'Thomas', or if you're adventurous 'Apostol' or 'Spivak'. Also, as a conceptual supplement to your main calculus text, I would definitely recommend Calculus Made Easy by Thompson. The text on introductory differential calculus by Leonhard Euler (yes, that Euler) is also a good read.

    The book A Student's Guide to Vectors and Tensors is a superb (though not rigorous) intro to both vectors and tensors. Also good for vectors is the first part of Einstein's Theory: A Rigorous Introduction for the Mathematically Untrained by Gron and Naess.

    For chemistry, Zumdahl and Zumdahl is the best I've come across, with Chemistry: The Central Science coming in as a runner-up.

    Good Luck!


    P.S. For practicing plug-and-chug Calc, Trig, or Algebra problems, there's nothing better in my opinion than The Humongous Book of <Fill in Subject> Problems series by Michael Kelley. Those books helped me get prepare for the classes I'm in now.
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