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Is 32 really too old to begin higher math?

  1. Sep 17, 2013 #1
    Until recently I've not done very well in math, and discovered my problems and was able to correct some, and still working on others, but I guess my reason for asking is, I need at least calculus to go for an EE degree, and there are days I wonder if its to late to get something in the field even if I graduate with high marks? Am I worrying over nothing? I'm working on the degree to hopefully be able to work at things I like doing, not just to add a hobby.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 17, 2013 #2
    "Is 32 really too old to begin higher math?"

    No.
     
  4. Sep 18, 2013 #3

    Drakkith

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    Staff: Mentor

    I know of no age too old to learn math of any type.
     
  5. Sep 18, 2013 #4

    UltrafastPED

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    As long as you have the interest, then intensity, and the energy - then you can study any subject.

    I would recommend starting with one class ... then your focus is very limited. You can build up as time and money permit.
     
  6. Sep 18, 2013 #5

    arildno

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    Since most who truly excel in maths generally make their most important contributions in the mid-20s into early thirties, you might fallaciously think that you cannot become a highly competent mathematician starting at your age.
    But, being highly competent is not the same as being a genius, and it is the highly competent who are typically sought after for their skills, since the geniuses are too few to begin with.
    So, go ahead with your studies! :smile:
     
  7. Sep 18, 2013 #6
    Calculus should be fun and feel good.

    I'm 29 and just finished 3 semesters of calculus (James Stewart's book). It took up gobs of time but I loved it.

    If I could take the courses again, I would learn to read my book sooner.

    Learn the rules of deriving and integration before you start the course, it will make things much easier for you. Just like driving a car. This comes from practice, lots and lots of practice.

    Someone on this forum recommend this guy: Dr. Adrian Banner, a Princeton mathematics professor.

    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGqzsq0erqU6cwuyDoAh1GYEFF2hB_YFc

    I watched his videos and took notes. The great thing about this is, I can pause the videos to finish my thoughts. I can rewind without raising my hand. The videos are about 2 hours long but took me 3-4 hours to watch and take notes.

    Gaussian Wings, holla!

    :D
     
  8. Sep 18, 2013 #7

    dlgoff

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  9. Sep 18, 2013 #8
    So will they look at my attempts from ten years ago, which I failed miserably, or now, when I'm actually doing extremely well, up to this point in my classes?
     
  10. Sep 18, 2013 #9

    arildno

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    They will review your current level, of course. Only incompetents would do otherwise.
     
  11. Sep 18, 2013 #10
    "Is 32 really too old to begin higher math?"

    Only if you can no longer count to 32.
     
  12. Sep 18, 2013 #11
    I guess I was scared by someone who is an astrophysicist who basically said, if you wanted to go into things that required advanced math, you really should have been a genius, and started publishing papers when you were 16, to be taken seriously, and if you didn't, you basically would be ignored. Maybe I misunderstood the person, but that is the impression I got,
     
  13. Sep 18, 2013 #12

    reenmachine

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    I'm in the same boat at 26 years old.

    I would lie if I said my age didn't bother me some days , but in the end either you waste your time thinking about it or you spend it actually giving it a shot.
     
  14. Sep 18, 2013 #13
    I have a classmate that just turned 37 and he is a senior nuclear engineering major. He keeps up with the rest of us who are in our early 20's and he does really well. I think you just have to be willing to put in the time and effort. Like one of the other posters mentioned, calculus and differential equations can really be interesting especially in engineering applications.
     
  15. Sep 18, 2013 #14
    Thank you for the kind replies, I'm gonna keep going at it (I had already started), guess its just those what if bugs everyone gets?
     
  16. Sep 19, 2013 #15

    arildno

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    Just remember:
    If you haven't made any progress even as you reach your next prime birthday, you should consider quitting then.
    If, however, you are not able to figure out WHEN your next prime birthday is, you should consider quitting now (hint: It is after your next square birthday).
    :biggrin::devil:
    PS:
    If you had to use my hint, figure out for yourself what you ought to do. :smile:
     
  17. Sep 19, 2013 #16

    chiro

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    Just take advantage of the resources available, show initiative and you'll be fine.

    If you don't know something just ask. If you want to become the best you can then surround yourself with other like-minded people. Use your resources like your professors and lecturers: they are there to help you and you might as well make the best use of your money.

    Math is really about three things: representation, transformation, and constraint. All of mathematics uses these concepts in one way or another regardless of the mathematics you do.

    Each course will have a particular focus (computational, theoretical, mix of both) but they all have specific structures of these three things that facilitate the goal of what the course is about.

    Also just remember that you have the forums with quite a lot of expertise if you are stuck. I'd imagine there has been quite a few people who have posted on the homework and other forums who have relied quite a lot on the expertise and generous nature of volunteer home-work helpers.
     
  18. Sep 19, 2013 #17

    arildno

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    I would, however, point to a critical factor for success:
    Aesthetic pleasure at results. If maths doesn't take on an emotional significance for the one doing it, too much of it will become a tedious nightmare, and you won't be able to pursue it with needed vigour.

    Mathematicians are humans first and foremost, and they must, in general, like what they are doing if they are to succeed. Just like everybody else.
     
  19. Sep 19, 2013 #18
    I returned to mathematics at age 50 following a rather undistinguished attempt in my teens. I was successful enough to earn a couple of engineering degrees, and these forums were instrumental in my success. I would think that @ 32, it would be a breeze.The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Make sure you have mastered the steps leading to the next level. The more you practice, the better you become. These sound simplistic, but have proven to be true.
    IMHO, the reason that people in their 20's are seen as more likely to do great work is because they have not yet fallen prey to the many distractions of life. Focus, single mindedness, obsession...call it what you will, but it gets harder to maintain after one discovers beer and girls.
    Go forth and calculate!
     
  20. Sep 19, 2013 #19

    arildno

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    Commitments take shape as you get older, creating their own sort of inertia/forces of habit. That is not at all necessarily "wrong" but to extricate oneself sufficiently to put the requisite degree of focus and attention to study might prove hard.

    However, for others, once time is less frantic (say, when kids have moved out of the house) THAT might be just the moment when picking up studying will be most rewarding.
     
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