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Maths, ROTE and suffering at university

  1. Apr 3, 2013 #1
    I picked maths up because I thought it would improve my ability to problem solve - but I found maths at university to be far from what I expected.

    With all my undergrad subjects like calculus II, multi-variable and even linear algebra everything feels rushed and I have a very hard time getting an intuitive understanding of all the concepts. Often I'm then forced to ROTE learn some definitions and concepts. This realllyy really frustrates me because it's just something you can easily forget much later. I've spent countless hours reading extra on sites likes betterexplained.com but it's still not easy.

    Other people in my class don't seem to care, say the understand it or say i'm just over-analytic and it doesn't matter.

    Anyway, just wanted to know what other peoples experiences are etc as I'm thinking about dropping it as it's simply a huge workload and a lot of it is forcing me to ROTE.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 3, 2013 #2


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    Some things you have to learn by rote (you can't derive your name or birthdate from first principles), but having done so, the best way to reinforce the acquisition of math definitions and concepts is to do practice problems. By doing a variety of problems and applying math concepts, this will help you to retain your understanding of the subject while you are continuing to learn it.
  4. Apr 3, 2013 #3


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    Unfortunately, that how it is in all the uni all over the world. You can't really "learn" something because there's no time. But, don't worry, this is normal. The universities don't have the purpose to make you learn, despite what you might think. The objective is to give you the opportunity to learn. They give professors not to teach you something, but to help you with your doubts. If you only depends on the professor to learn something you're not gonna go far.
    Here's what I do. During the semester I try to absorb as much knowledge as I can and during the vacation, where I usually write my articles and stuff I revise all the subject by my self proving every theorem on a special book I bought just for this. I do all the exercises, every single one of them, even the ones the professor said to not do because it is "not the focus of the course".
    That helps me a lot, and improve my ability on my area. Consider do that yourself.
  5. Apr 4, 2013 #4
    Many universities offer an "honors" option to the math sequence, which is designed for students planning on doing graduate work in math. What makes them different is that they teach math from a more theoretical standpoint and emphasize proofs and theorems over problems and solutions. You might get more satisfaction taking honors linear algebra over linear algebra, because you'll understand why the results are how they are. Check out if your university has it.
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