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Motivated, but have no idea where to start

  1. Sep 4, 2010 #1

    I am not a math person. I am terrible at math and have made it to college feeling like I have missed out on something great. Not only have I made it to college, but I am what liberal arts students consider "retired from math". I have completed the math credit I need to fulfill my major, but I feel incomplete. I didn't take pre-calculus or calculus in high school, I took the three years I had to and called it quits until college. Now I have made it through the liberal arts math class at my university and feel a sense of true regret. I am in my second semester of college and I'm not satisfied. Math is something I've been putting off since I was young, I never faced it because I thought I'd be able to meet my goals with the minimum. "I want to be an attorney, not an engineer..." that was my excuse. I could just keep going and not look back, but I feel like I have deprived myself of something I never even gave a chance. I am filled with true regret. That's why I signed up for an account on this forum. I want to take a calculus class. I am embarrassed to say that I can't even sign up for a calculus class. I have to take the pre-requisite for the calculus class, and before I can take the pre-requisite, I have to take a test called the ALEKS. I don't know where to start. I want to try to prepare for the test on my own and need advice for getting off the ground. What are some ways I can study independently? What are some websites or methods that would help? I need someone to point me in the right direction because I am really very lost.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 4, 2010 #2


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    Science Advisor

    I applaud your willingness to fill in a "hole" in your education. Bear in mind, what you are attempting will take time and effort and will not happen overnight, I would suggest the following:

    (1) Find a good online site with a structured set of math lessons. A good one is http://www.math.com , but there are others. Then work through these lessons methodically one-by-one. Make sure and do the homework problems.

    (2) Find someone you know that understands math that can help you when you get stuck (and you will get stuck.

    (3) Keep at it and don't get discouraged. Don't hesitate to come back here for help. There are lots of people here who can help you.

    Good luck!
  4. Sep 4, 2010 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    I too applaud your determination to enlight yourself. What you've said about your liberal arts education so far makes me think of John Allen Paulos's book, "Innumeracy," or mathematical illiteracy. (To be clear, I'm not referring to you, but to the system you've been educated in.) One comparison Paulos makes is that you can't be considered an intellectual if you are illiterate, but you can still be considered an intellectual even if your mathematical abilities don't go much beyond arithmetic.

    In addition to the link phyzguy gave, I've heard good a lot of good things about Khan Academy, www.khanacademy.org.
  5. Sep 15, 2010 #4
    Thanks to you both for the help. I bookmarked both websites. The book Innumeracy looks interesting, thanks for bringing it up. I'm going to look for it at a local bookstore.
  6. Sep 15, 2010 #5
    Math is much deeper than Calculus.

    As someone who's interested in law, formal logic and logical fallacies might be more useful to you. Google Monty Hall problem for a very good case where the intuition of even PhDs fails the vast, vast majority of the time over a very simple question of probability.
  7. Oct 20, 2010 #6
    An update on this post, I communicated with my advisors and they said my interest to pursue math a bit more in my studies is a great idea. I'm using some of my electives to take some more math based classes :) I am taking it step by step, starting with the classes available to me over the summer at the community college in my home city.
  8. Oct 20, 2010 #7
    I second Tac-Tics' advice. Logic would be an excellent choice for an aspiring attorney, and is an exceedingly deep and beautiful subject.
  9. Oct 20, 2010 #8
    I'm taking a logic course for my major (philosophy). Thanks for the advice, I know that logic is important for the LSAT.
  10. Oct 21, 2010 #9
    Please read G. Lakoff, A. Nunez "Where Mathematics Come From". Then, you will get the essence of the basic metaphors used by great mathematicians. It is a critical study of the current educational system and good start for the numbering systems. A little bit dry in the first chapters though, but it will surely pay off.
  11. Oct 21, 2010 #10
    itz allways great to overcome our own fears.............m sure u will enjoy the fruit afterwards.
    allways b confident regarding what u know n accept what u dont know as something to b learned.......
    even einstien did face problems in maths ..........when he did not give up then no one should!
    ALL THE BEST!!!!!!!:-)
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