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Just in pre-calc but want to major in EE. Advise?

  1. Apr 3, 2008 #1
    So I'm a senior in high school and I'm just taking pre-calculus as my math class. I want to major in a field in engineering, most likely electrical, but I'm worried that since I don't have a great math background, I will fall behind other students in college.

    Most of my friends are in AP calc AB or BC and it bothers me a lot. I'm decent at math. High 90's average but I'm not getting those perfect 100's averages in math. I'm currently taking AP Physics B and I can say I'm doing better than most of the class except for the the 1-2 super smart kids. My physics average is a 99. My teacher gave out 2 100s to those 2 super smart kids. I can say I have a good work ethic which has gotten me among the top 10 students in my year. But I have to say I'm no genius. I cant get an automatic answer by just looking at a problem. But I enjoy learning physics and know how things work.

    Anyways, so you guys got any good advise? Should I read some calculus books and learn something during the summer before college starts at least? Will other students have an obvious and big advantage over me?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 3, 2008 #2

    Dr. Courtney

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    You don't need lots of prep other than doing your best in the pre-calc class and then doing all of the assigned homework in the calculus class. Even if the prof. doesn't check the homework, DO IT ALL anyway. Even if you can't finish some of the problems, at least start every problem and go see the prof. during office hours for help. (You can also work with other students and seek help from other sources if necessary.)

    Almost no one with a decent pre-calc background fails calc from lack of ability. Everyone who fails calc fails from a lack of effort.

    Michael Courtney
  4. Apr 4, 2008 #3
    Don't worry about not having ap calc. in most cases, its much better that you wait for college and do the calculus right. you have to remember that ap calculus at a high school will most probably be different than calculus taught by a college professor.
  5. Apr 4, 2008 #4


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    Sounds like you will do fine. I actually have a pretty similar background to what you describe.

    I'd also advise you to pick up a basic electronics book, to start getting a feel for some of the basic parts of EE. "The Art of Electronics" by Horowitz and Hill is a good beginning book, that you will be able to understand pretty well. Maybe pick up a copy and read it cover-to-cover over the summer -- it will give you a great head start.
  6. Apr 4, 2008 #5

    I'll add my two cents since I can somewhat relate to your situation except that you're in a much better position than I was in High School.

    When I graduated from High School, I only completed Intermediate Algebra w/Trig. I started JC and never cared to take other Math courses since for one, I had no idea what I was going to major in and I was aiming for an AA from the get go for which you only need Intermediate Algebra which I already had. To make a long story short, (that was 14 years ago!) I went back to JC in the late 90s and earned my AS in Electronics but took a long break and never took any other GE or math courses that would count towards a BS should I decide to go back to college. Well, in the Spring of 07 I decided to go back and had to start all the way back to Begining Algebra! I am now in Calc 1 and have done OK so far. I've always done good in Math but by no means am I genius although I do score high as well. I had a HORRIBLE experience in Pre-Calc and Trig in college where I basically taught myself and still earned As on both classes. Calc is challenging but EFFORT is the key. So...IMHO, I think you'll be fine. Don't worry where others are, just take it one semester at a time and stay focused. I am 32 and I am sure when I transfer to a four year university next year I will encounter younger and smarter kids but I am not competing against anyone, I just want to graduate and perhaps get a Masters in math to teach at the JC level.

    Good luck to you...
  7. Apr 4, 2008 #6
    Keep up the good work. You're doing fine. A strong work ethic goes a long way in this world. Over the long haul, it's not always the super smart guys that get where you want to go. If you like building things, then get your hands dirty with it and learn from making things along with the academic stuff.
  8. Apr 5, 2008 #7
    You wont be far behind all the other students in college. But EE is math intensive, well all engineering fields are, but EE is one of the most math intensive engineering disciplines, so you should probably enjoy math if this is what you want to do. Really the only think that matters is work ethic and interest.
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