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Hi, my first time and I need advice on Calculus

  1. Jun 2, 2010 #1
    I do not know if works the same everywhere, but as a freshman in university I am really new to this.

    My professor gives us assignments, even-numbered assignments, on our homework. Now being the youngest person in my class and not knowing anyone is a disadvantage. Because those assignments my prof gives us are challenging (or really poorly worded...) from Stewart's Calculus books. Unfortunately I cannot ask my prof for help sometimes because he has a very strong german accent and I have a very difficult time trying to understand half of what he says.

    So I am just wondering, how do you guys do those difficult assignment questions that is not in solution manuals? Because sometimes I just stared at them blankly and we get quizzes on them. My last quiz (out of 10), I got a 4...
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 2, 2010 #2
    Generally there will be a question similar to the ones not in the solutions. Try those ones first and try to figure out how they got the answer that they did. Then just apply the same technique to the questions that don't have solutions in the back. You can also use wolfram alpha if you want to check your results, but don't rely on it to actually do the work for you. What area in particular are you having trouble with?
  4. Jun 3, 2010 #3
    I know, but most of the questions are proofs and they diff from one another, which makes things really difficult. I am doing differential calculus (Calc IV) right now.
  5. Jun 3, 2010 #4


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    Have you looked into tutoring? If you are sure that you're doing everything you can to understand the material, then a tutor should be able to help fill the holes.

    (emphasis added)


    In what country are you attending school?
  6. Jun 3, 2010 #5
    Canada, I never had a tutor before because my parents would never allow me to have one (I still managed...). Honestly, my parents are cheapsakes, and not the good kind too. They are one of those people who weigh money as money, but let's just summarize their view from this quote "He who is contented is rich". I don't want to go into that much. How I got into college is 60% from scholarships, 20% from my parents and 20% from my life savings (from part-time work as a freshman and red-enveloped money).

    Sorry that I went on too much about my parents. Anyways, are there even tutors for college-stuff? Are they expensive?
  7. Jun 3, 2010 #6


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    Many universities offer tutoring services on campus, whether they be private or funded by the university itself. The university I am attending has a tutoring center which provides free tutoring for certain courses. You should see if there is something similar at your university.

    Talk to someone in the student services/academic advisement department and get some information. Even if the university does not provide tutoring services, they may be able to help you in some other way. Also, watch for postings around campus advertising for study groups and/or tutoring. Some students offer tutoring services using this method.
  8. Jun 3, 2010 #7


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    Universities offer many more services to help students than most students realize. My university is not exactly rich and our department is not exactly big or well funded, but there are at least 3 resources that I know of without even really have looked into it. There are department tutoring sessions by graduate students that is free (the department pays grad students to do it). There are university tutoring sessions that again, are free and the tutors are paid by the university. Our department also has a study room where people in the major just congregate and if they're anything like our department, like helping people out for "fun".

    Check into it and absolutely take advantage!
  9. Jun 3, 2010 #8
    Thank you everyone, but I realized I made a big mistake in my wording and it is quite important in Canadian terms. I actually attend a community college, not a university. So the department and staff are poorer than an university. I think I can transfer out after my second year (I need at least second year science courses to transfer).

    Once I do get to transfer, I will definitely attend those tutoring services.
  10. Jun 3, 2010 #9
    I had this issue myself last semester during Calculus. My experience with math professors, is that if you really want to learn, they are willing to help you out (I'm sure there are some that will negate that statement). So, if you really want to do the even exercises in order to learn more, either go to your professor and just ask if you did it correctly (show all your work) or go to a tutor and ask them. OR, try online tutoring.

    Also, I have found that using a livescribe pen is great for this purpose, because you can write it all out, then upload it as a pdf file to your computer, and then just email the whole thing to your professor for them to look at (if they are willing. . . I was fortunate to have a professor that was super nice and helpful).

    Good luck!!
  11. Jun 3, 2010 #10
    Thanks, I have no idea what a livescribe pen is. I do not get access to a computer, I just go to my local library to use the computers (my parents will never buy me anything over $50 if they think it is not useful according to them, they always say that I must thank them for paying college and not throwing me out as an infant). My professor probably is a better teacher online because he has a very strong accent that I cannot get over with. Like he pronounce "derivative" as "duraratif", but he adds an accent to it that makes it difficult to figure out what he is taking about. I wuold try to e-mail him, but he is almost never on. It usually takes him two days to reply to a single e-mail and I have tried it before.

    But where do I seek online tutoring?
  12. Jun 3, 2010 #11
    If this is true, is there anyway you can get a job to support yourself and pay for your education? You should be grateful for their financial support but that does not allow them to abuse you in this manner.
  13. Jun 3, 2010 #12
    Yeah, no kidding.
  14. Jun 3, 2010 #13
    I have already been working part-time in a family restaurant since freshman, the pay is good, the manager is really nice. I didn't want to get financial aid from the college (turned out I didn't need too) because I don't want to be in debt as soon as I graduate, you know what I mean? It's like another thing to worry about, I think I actually stand now why adults get so scared they are having a child.

    And yeah I know they aren't the best parents out there, but at least they are feeding me (maybe I am taking the "honor thy father and mother" too hard) and I am more or less used to it by now. Right now they still think I am going to be an engineer and I haven't even told them I want to go into Physics instead...
  15. Jun 6, 2010 #14
    Stewart's book usually has an odd question that is very similar to the even one before/after it. So see how that odd one is solved, and apply similar methods to your even one. Stewart's book is not proof heavy, no idea what you're talking about there. Also if you haven't been reading the text, do! That book is very well written, in comparison to other math texts. A lot of the problems are direct plug and chug from what the text tells you to do, with exceptions being chpters 11 and 12 or whatever chapter covers series. Those can be a little tricky...
  16. Jun 6, 2010 #15
    My $0.02. This is off-topic from the OP's original question, but bears adding on to.

    Part-time work can net you a decent amount of money and a summer job can add more. Try to save as much as possible, though some expenses are unavoidable. Luckily you don't have to worry about food. But since you've been working for a long time, you probably know that. You probably also know that working while attending classes is hard and have my sympathies.

    I hope you understand that physics is not a career in which you are near guaranteed to have a good, stable job out of the gate. If money is a concern, as it might be for you, think carefully before making the choice. Good luck on the transferring; if all goes well, your new university may give you more career options that still include physics and provide financial security. Or, if you are prepared to never be very rich, and you love physics, then go for it.

    In terms of any questions you may have, I'm sure everyone on PF will be happy to answer any of yours questions. Just so long as you stick around long enough at the library.
  17. Jun 6, 2010 #16
    Thanks, I know people who enter this field don't care about the money. My parents however, based on my descriptions, well you can already guess their intentions on this. I have browsed through the Calculus forum sometimes, but it's a bit slow. I mean there are great helpers out there, but it takes hours and even days to respond to a simple question.

    And yeah you guessed it, during work the manager sometimes hold meals with everyone, like every waiter/waitress, cook, dish washer, whatever your position is, we hold dinner or sometimes lunch together! My manager knows about my situation and sometimes just treats me because he thought that my parents would just give me enough to eat. The truth is, he hit it right on the spot; my parents just buys me loaves of bread for lunch and some canned fish for dinner (I skip breakfast).
  18. Jun 6, 2010 #17
    I hope some other forum members can help advise you on the family situation, because my experience does not extend that far. From what I see, you're indeed lucky to have found your job. I will say that even if the forums are slower than real time help, it will probably be faster than your professor, until you can find a better outlet. It can be a good thing as well, since it forces you to think carefully about how you want to phrase your question and comments -- many a time I have been on the verge of posting something and then figured it out myself.
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