Is Calculus Really as Hard as It Seems?

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In summary, the person named Kevin is struggling with math and is seeking help. They have had some difficulties in high school, including not being able to take the math AIMS test and having to switch schools. They have a strong interest in science and math and want to pursue a career as a physicist. They have also met a young lady who was once good at math but struggled with calculus. Kevin is looking for someone to talk to about their struggles and has purchased a calculus book to help them learn. They are also worried about not having enough math knowledge for college and list various math topics they need to learn.
  • #1
Hello, my name is Kevin. I posted here a few times before about questions. I'm really interested in science and math. Recently I met up with a young lady around my age (I'm 17) who learned in high school algebra to calculus. In middle school, she was already doing algebra 3.

Now here's my problem(s):
1) I recently graduated from 11th grade early. BUT, I recently moved, and I was enrolled out of school before I had the chance to take the math AIMS (In which I failed, normally I'm good at math, I even tutor math, but I was overwhelmed by concepts I never learned in algebra, and filled out each bubble randomly.) again.
2) I moved to Surprise, AZ. About 30 minutes away from central phoenix. I also am struggling with depression and suicide. I've had consoling and been to a mental hospital, boot camp, etc. I get along great with people but sometimes have troubles being able to see how another person is feeling, or being able to relate to others.
3) I haven't taken the math AIMS yet which is essienial for me to graduate. I'm afraid that when I get enrolled in school in this city, (12th grade), I will not be able to graduate to 12th grade because I had not completed the math AIMS.
4) I appreciate the help here. The math help is great.

Now, back to talking to this young lady. She works where I work, at an italian fast food place called fazoli's. I have a lot of determination on what I want to do in life, being a physicist. My grandpa was one. I might go other career path; but when I feel unsure I always go back to being a physicist or engineer.
This young lady was also a math tutor, and exceeled in math until she got to calculus.

What happened at calculus, you may ask? Well, she plummetted. She said at trigonmetry (which I've never had the chance to take, wish I would've) it got really hard. And at calculus, she said she couldn't take it anymore. She hated studying the anti derivative table (the formulas).

Now, I'm good at math. I tutored geometry and algebra. However, it's hard to not take what she had said (calculus being hard) into mind. It scares me, I mean, a physicist is my dream job, and she was so good at math until calculus. What happened at calculus? It can't be THAT hard, can it?

I just need someone to talk to. A good friend. I have a lot of emotional problems. If someone would PM me so we could talk, about math, or about anything, please do so.

Here's the main problem:
1) When I started my freshmen year, my teacher recommended I take pre algebra so I would know "the basics first".
2) I told my teacher that year, math was really hard, but I was determined to get an A. And I did. I did the best in my class.
3) At sophmore, I took algebra. The teacher again recommended I take the slower algebra, which consists of less material (but more focused on that material than the other classes).
4) As a junior, I went to a different school due to school stress. I went to a self pace school. It's on computers
5) I promptly finished algebra and geometry there. I had some problems with geometry; I didn't have a teacher to talk to! You see, once I finished the requirements for math. I didn't have to take it. But I wanted to take more math, so I decided to take it again for an elective. But I wasn't actually in the class , I was just doing it on the side. So when I had a question to ask to the teacher, I couldn't ask. Why? Couldn't I just find the teacher in my other class and ask? I tried that, over and over, but she was always too busy or not in the school.
6) Finally, my main concern is that I just haven't accomplished enough math in my high school year. I want to be a PHYSIST, I need to know einstein-bose equations! My god, that's along way off.
7) Desperate for math, I purchased the maligned "Calculus for dummies." (Note: Alot of people here say the book is "Junk" because it "simplifies" the complexity of calculus and sometimes stretches the limits of proper calculus rules.)
I have a real problem with calculus books. I had gotten my hands on 2 higher level calculus books by Howard Aanton. I did NOT understand it.
8) The calculus for dummies book helped. But it didn't offer any pratice problems!
Finally, and lastly, I don't know what to do. I make $5.50 an hour. Since I'm obviously not going to be able to get through mathematics in high school or even get to TRIGONMETRY, by the time I graduate on my senior year I'll probably take geometry. (Even though I took geometry [but didn't complete it] in my other school)
10) What can I do? Once school is out, I will only know geometry. I won't know enough to get though the tests of a college class. A few months ago I went to a community college and tested. I got into pre-algebra. (It was on a computer test.). I was so angry. I didn't bother to join the class. It was an insult. An embarrassment.

Here's what I need to know:
1) Factoring
2) Factoring, and more factoring (to be able to manipulate an equation on limits, for example)
3) Quadratic equations
4) limits
5) derivatives
6) integrals(antiderivatives)
7) vectors
8) partial derivatives
9) Feymenn integrals
10) Surface integrals

Please note. I've read though Calculus For Dummies. I know the basics of how it works, however I couldn't actually do a problem. Worthless knowledge I suppose. I've come to this forum because I need to jumpstart and learn trigometry, to calculus. Thank you
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  • #2
Can you summarize that?
  • #3

Hi Kevin,

I can understand your frustration and concerns about your math skills and goals. It sounds like you have faced a lot of challenges in your academic journey and I commend you for your determination and perseverance.

First of all, I want to reassure you that calculus is a difficult subject for many students, and it is not uncommon for even those who excel in math to struggle with it. It is a complex and abstract subject that requires a lot of practice and understanding of underlying concepts. However, with hard work and dedication, I am confident that you can succeed in calculus and achieve your dream of becoming a physicist.

I would recommend starting with a review of algebra and geometry, as these are the foundations for calculus. You can find many resources online or in textbooks to help you refresh your knowledge of these topics. It is important to have a strong foundation before moving on to more advanced math concepts.

As for your concerns about not having enough math credits in high school, I would suggest talking to your guidance counselor about possibly taking summer classes or enrolling in a community college class to catch up on any missed math courses. It is also important to communicate with your new school about your situation and see if they can offer any support or accommodations.

In terms of learning calculus, I would recommend finding a tutor or joining a study group to get some extra help and practice. You can also look for online resources, such as Khan Academy or YouTube tutorials, to supplement your learning. Don't be afraid to ask for help or clarification when needed.

Lastly, I want to remind you that your worth and intelligence are not defined by your grades or academic achievements. You are more than capable of becoming a physicist or pursuing any other career you set your mind to, regardless of any challenges you may face in your academic journey. Keep working hard and seeking help when needed, and I have no doubt that you will achieve your goals.

Best of luck to you, Kevin. You got this!

Related to Is Calculus Really as Hard as It Seems?

1. What is calculus?

Calculus is a branch of mathematics that deals with the study of change and motion. It involves the analysis of functions and their derivatives and integrals, and is used in many fields such as physics, engineering, and economics.

2. Why is calculus important?

Calculus is important because it provides a powerful set of tools for solving problems involving change and rates of change. It is used in many areas of science and technology, and has applications in areas such as physics, engineering, economics, and statistics.

3. What are the main concepts in calculus?

The main concepts in calculus are derivatives, which measure the rate of change of a function, and integrals, which measure the accumulation of a quantity over an interval. Other important concepts include limits, continuity, and differentiability.

4. How can I improve my understanding of calculus?

To improve your understanding of calculus, it is important to practice solving problems and working through examples. You can also seek out additional resources such as textbooks, online tutorials, and practice exercises. It may also be helpful to seek out a tutor or attend study groups for extra support.

5. What are some real-life applications of calculus?

Calculus has many real-life applications, such as in physics for solving problems involving motion and forces, in engineering for designing structures and systems, in economics for analyzing supply and demand, and in statistics for analyzing data. It is also used in many other fields such as biology, chemistry, and finance.

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