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How long does it take?

  1. Nov 2, 2013 #1
    Hello,

    I am just wondering how long it would take me to reach college level calculus.(If i can do it at all)

    Little background info so you know where i am at.

    I started learning math only in the begging of this year,in high school i skipped most of my classes and only passed by cheating or cramming in info the last week before the test which wasn't that
    hard because i was taking pre-algebra,so basically i learned nothing in high school about math(the only subject that did interest me was history and i passed that with an a+).So i started out learning math on youtube which led me to find out about khan academy and i have been learning from there ever since,i am currently on the pre-calculus videos and find them easy to understand in general.If it has took me about a year to go from basic math to pre-calculus math.How long do you think it will take me to self learn college level calculus?I know everyone is different and what will take some people years to learn some people can do in months,but i am interested if anyone on this site has a similar story to mine.Starting from scratch at a pretty old age (19) and going on to become successful at math in college.

    Thanks in advance for your replys.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 2, 2013 #2

    Student100

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    Are you actually planning on going to college?

    If you go to a CC you'll take a placement test, and place into some math. I would assume you'll probably test into intermediate algebra. From there it would take you two semesters going the intermediate -> pre-calculus route, or two semesters and a summer doing intermediate -> college algebra -> trig route.

    If you're just self-studying, then it shouldn't matter how long it takes. It's self-paced, what you put in is what you'll get out, the calc series depending on what you mean by the calc series is normally covered in one to two years.

    My little side story:

    I failed out of high school, because I was too busy doing other stuff that at the time seemed more interesting. I still got a diploma (luckily, the teachers liked me… small school… other things that shouldn’t influence such things but do), and went into the military. Almost ten years later I reenrolled in school, I felt I had liberated myself from the tendencies that prevented me from succeeding in high school. I took a placement test and placed into math 56, which is intermediate algebra at the CC I attended; I took that, college algebra, and then trig in the summer. I've since made it through the calc series, but I'm by no means great at it, I have a lot more to learn. It was me recognizing what was inhibiting me, mostly by getting my *** beat in the military on a constant basis that enabled me to get as far as I have. Until you figure out what is inhibiting you, you won't make it very far:

    Is it boredom with the subjects, lack of rigor, to busy smoking weed and getting girls?

    Identify what’s preventing you from succeeding, correct it and only then I'd recommend enrolling into school. Even if you don't plan on going to school now, you should.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013
  4. Nov 2, 2013 #3
    Yes,I am planning on going to college.I want to major in computer science.I already took the compass test,and got placed in math 111.The thing is to save some money on tuition i want to self study until i get to calculus level, then take the pre-calculus clep test and if i pass it i will be able to take calculus without all the classes leading up to it which will save me a lot of money on tuition(not to mention the credits i will receive from the clep test itself).i'm not one of those rich kids that has their parents pay for college.So i just wanted to know through self study how long would it take me to get to that level(studying atleast 5 hours a day).I would say i can pass any algebra 2 test with ease,but when it comes to trig and pre-calculus(vectors,logarithms,exponential growth graphs) i would get about 50 percent on those.
     
  5. Nov 2, 2013 #4

    Student100

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    What is math 111? Is that college algebra? Have you applied for financial aid? Does your state offer any need based waivers of tuition, ect?

    Algebra, trig, and the like are foundation courses for everything you'll ever do; I would recommend taking them even if you could clep out it. You could probably self study and have a working useage down in 6-8 months, putting in a hour or two a few times a week, but I'd still tell you to take the classes. :P
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2013
  6. Nov 2, 2013 #5
    Yeah,i applied for financial aid but they told me my Expected family contribution was too high.What those people at the financial aid office haven't considered is that my family is in a lot of debt and most of the money my parents earn gets wasted on keeping their business running.I get 0 contribution from my family and i am unemployed at the moment(i told them that,but all them seem to care about is the "expected family contribution" what a joke).I guess my last option is taking out a loan and paying it off later,but by the time i can pay it off it's already going to have grown quite a bit because 6.8 percent interest rate isn't that low...


    And yeah math 111 is basically intermediate algebra
     
  7. Nov 2, 2013 #6

    Student100

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    Yeah that's a hard situation, 6.8 interest rate seems high, is that the government student loan, or private? Have you figured out how you're going to pay for school when you do clep out of pre-calc? Have you come to terms with the reason why you didn't do so hot in high school? These are important questions to ask yourself now.

    5 hours a day will get you a working usage much faster, I'm not sure what kind of time frame you're looking at here though, but 2-3 months at that level of dedicated study should be enough.
     
  8. Nov 2, 2013 #7

    QuantumCurt

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    The people in the financial aid office have no control over that. It may be the case that your family isn't able to contribute anything, but the financial aid office still has to follow guidelines that are put in place by state and federal institutions.

    I too would recommend still taking those classes. College algebra and trigonometry are foundational to everything that you do in calculus. It's not like you get to calculus and just get to forget about all of the algebra and trig. If anything, it gets much harder. The algebra that is involved in finding derivatives and such can get very messy very quickly if you don't have a solid foundation in algebra. Even with a solid foundation it gets extremely messy at times.

    I'm sure you could develop a working knowledge of those topics in 5-6 months with some real dedication to it. But there's a difference between knowing how to use a tool, and understanding why the tool works the way that it does. Intermediate algebra would be a fairly easy class to test out of. If anything, it would be better to skip that class and be stuck playing the catch up game in college algebra. College algebra goes into much more depth with a lot of important topics though. Things like conics, exponential and logarithmic functions, basic probability, sequences, series. It's important stuff. In calculus, it's assumed that you already know the basics.
     
  9. Nov 3, 2013 #8

    Mark44

    Staff: Mentor

    When I was teaching in a community college, the students I enjoyed working with the most were the ones who had been out of HS for a while. Being in the real world and on their own made a big difference with their level of motivation, and that was an important part of their success in school.
    Good advice!

    Thanks for your service - I was in the Army between '65 and '71.
     
  10. Nov 3, 2013 #9
    Yeah,that makes a lot of sense.I guess i was just trying to rush through college so i could get my associates as fast as i can and move on to a university,but it looks like i should just take it one step at a time.Is there anything else besides fafsa that can help me out to pay for college?
     
  11. Nov 3, 2013 #10

    Mark44

    Staff: Mentor

    I agree with most of the others in this thread about enrolling in school to get those math classes. Since you plan to major in computer science, you're going to have to do really well in a lot of math classes, and self-studying the prerequisite courses might not give you the foundation you need.

    Are you looking for work? With a job you'd be able to pay for a class at a local CC.
     
  12. Nov 3, 2013 #11
    How many classes do i have to take per semester?If i can keep it down to 2 classes (preferably a math class and computer science class),then yeah i can probably pay for it.
     
  13. Nov 3, 2013 #12

    Student100

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    You could certainly go part time, two classes would come out between 6-8 semester units per term, with the summer term you'd probably be averaging 19-20 units a year. You might be at CC for four-ish years, but that certainly isn't going to negatively impact you. A strong foundation will only make your life easier.

    I think when you turn 23 you'll no longer need to report parental income and become an independent student, which is good as you should be transitioning to a 4 year school at that time. The extra aid will certainly help.


    Thank you for your service Mark; those were some hard years for the Army.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
  14. Nov 3, 2013 #13

    QuantumCurt

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    I can relate. I was 26 when I started at community college. I'm now 27 and approaching the end of my third semester (fourth if you count summer semester). When I first started, I placed into elementary algebra. I was looking at how many courses I was going to have to take just to get into college level math, and it was depressing. What I ended up doing was self studying the intermediate algebra material, and self studying a bunch of geometry during winter break. Then I placed out of intermediate algebra and geometry so I could start college algebra my second semester. Then I took trig over the summer, and I'm currently in Calculus I.

    Because of those remedial classes, it's ultimately going to take me three years to finish my associates and transfer to a university. I'll get there in due time though. I'd love to get there faster, but staying at CC to finish my associates makes a lot more sense, and will ultimately save me several tens of thousands of dollars.
     
  15. Nov 3, 2013 #14

    IGU

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    You're confused about the math. If you want to study computer science, calculus is mostly pointless. What you want to learn is discrete math: set theory, combinatorics, logic, graph theory, counting and probability. Those are all relevant to computer science and programming. Of course you need basic algebra first, and you really want to learn something that exposes you to doing mathematical proofs. High school geometry is usually students first exposure to that, but any math class that emphasizes rigorous proofs will do.

    Of course, learning calculus, if you do it right, is good for you. But since you are time constrained and paying for it yourself, I suggest you study more relevant things.
     
  16. Nov 3, 2013 #15

    Student100

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    Before you do any of those courses most colleges will require completion of the calc series; also, most transfer CS students that I am aware of were required to complete calc 1 through 3, and linear before transfer, with differentials and discrete if offered recommended. Soooooo, he still needs to make it to that point.
     
  17. Nov 3, 2013 #16

    QuantumCurt

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    Most computer science programs require calculus from what I've seen. Discrete, probability, and logic are certainly more relevant in most respects, but calculus is required by most schools too. That's going to depend on big part on what school you want to go to though, as well as the specific program you're interested in.
     
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