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Parents think I'm incapable?

  1. May 5, 2012 #1
    I want to studying computer engineering. My parents think its a very bad idea. They don't believe I'll be able to do the higher level maths. The last math class that I took was intermediate algebra and I got a "C" but if personal things weren't happening I believe I would have gotten a better grade. I have had troubles in the past but I don't think I'm dumb or incapable of learning. I'm not sure, maybe I am.

    Now I'm thinking about either doing what they want me to do (Information Technology) which I would enjoy or doing CE but not saying anything. I live in their house so I'm not sure how I'd be able to do the latter and honestly would rather not lie. Thanks for your help. Very strange situation.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 5, 2012 #2
    Getting a C in high school algebra is certainly a red flag. Computer engineers usually have to study things like calculus and linear algebra which you are not sure you can handle.

    Perhaps it's a wise idea to enroll in a community college and get some math classes. If you do well in them, then you should be able to do computer engineering. If you don't do well, then you now that you can't handle the coursework and that's also good to know.
  4. May 5, 2012 #3
    Thanks for the reply. :smile: Honestly, I don't like the idea that I can't do something even if I practice. In fact, I don't like the idea of being mediocre at anything. I typically get an "A" in everything else including the sciences. I took honors bio 1 and 2 and got an A so I'm not sure what this says about me if anything.
  5. May 5, 2012 #4
    That's a good attitude. Honestly, I know nobody who is bad at math just like that. Most of the time, they just don't practice enough or they just don't like it. So no, I don't think it's impossible for you to do mathy things, but you probably have to put a lot of effort in it.

    Math is very cumulative, so make sure you understand everything. One thing not understood will come back and haunt you later on.
  6. May 5, 2012 #5
    In my experience it's definitely the work you put into it. I started my college journey in Beginning Algebra (Sad, right?) and moved onto Intermediate Algebra before even getting into College Algebra. I had Bs and Cs in all of those classes, not because they were too hard but because a) I wasn't trying hard and b) at the time I was still in self-doubt mode. I wasn't sure I wanted to put in the work required to major in a math/science field.

    Once I was sure, my grades and study habits improved. I've now aced most of my trig tests, and once my final is over I'll be doing an independent 1 month study of precalc (just to brush up) before taking a summer Calc I course. I intend to ace that course. Getting a C in remedial math isn't as bad as you'd think, the math is easy enough that you'll pick it up again in the next course. If you've forgotten how to rationalize an equation you'll be doing more of it in College Algebra and Trig.

    Like Micromass said math is cumulative, but as such you can review things as you go if you have the requisite drive to do so. It's just not a good habit to get into; at the moment it's easy and you don't have much to review. However as time goes on there will be more and more to remember (and forget) and it's good to catch your poor habits early, before they put you in a hole you can't dig yourself out of. As I hear it that point is Calculus, where mastery of algebraic manipulation is assumed. Hence my review of PreCalc.

    Do the work and you can major in anything you want. If I'd listened to my family or my teachers, professors and advisors I'd be majoring in Philosophy. Not because it's easy, mind you, but because my intellect seems to be more inclined towards forming and refuting arguments -- but I want to do something else, something more difficult, precisely because it comes so easily to me.

    As for lying, well, I don't see why you'd need to do that unless they're threatening to kick you out of the house if you don't major in their chosen field. Assuming this is not the case you could simply explain to them that you're more capable than they think you are, and you intend to prove it to them by majoring in YOUR chosen field. Communicate that you're leaving your options open, maybe compromise by taking an intro IT course (if your schedule permits), or at the very least explaining that many of the first courses in the CE/IT programs are similar and you can also switch to IT if your motivation wanes.
  7. May 5, 2012 #6
    That is the right attitude. As micromass said, take a course at community college level to improve your skills. It will give you a chance to start again and prove to yourself (and your parents) what you can do. There is no commitment involved as to what you will end up doing as a degree.

    Poor grades in mathematics at school level are often due to poor teaching or social pressures discouraging students from wanting to succeed. If you approach it like an adult, you can do fine.
    Last edited: May 6, 2012
  8. May 6, 2012 #7
    I hear/read this a lot. Is it you or your parents that are going to be studying CE...?
    If you are willing to put in some serious hard work, and you actually want to do CE, then I'd say go for it. :) To me it seems a more rewarding subject area than IT.

    Also, see it as a challenge from your parents! Imagine how proud they would be to see you doing well in a subject area they doubted you could even enter..
  9. May 6, 2012 #8


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    Hey ipodchicken and welcome to the forums.

    I would encourage you to consider CE, but I would still be realistic about what is expected of you to go well in this area.

    Nowadays you have many many resources at your disposal. You have the internet (including forums like this), your professors, lecturers, TA's as well as other colleagues at university. You have a library which has textbooks full of information. Basically you have enough IMO to get by any situation.

    Having said this you will have to work hard and you will probably have to have pretty good mathematics grades to get through the first year (from high school).

    It might be a good idea to ask your high school teacher as well for advice since they know you better than any of us here would.
  10. May 7, 2012 #9
    Thanks for all the help and encouragement. :smile: I've decided to go the CE path but I'll take a few math classes at my local community college to prove to myself and my parents that I am capable.

    I'd just like to quickly say that CE actually interests me. Picking a college major has become a matter of what makes the most money and looks the most prestigious next to your name. That bothers me because in 10 years we are going to have a generation of doctors, lawyers, accountants and even engineers who are completely apathetic towards their job. That isn't just sad, its dangerous.
  11. Feb 12, 2013 #10
    Hey, I would like to give you guys a quick update on how I'm doing.

    I passed college algebra with an "A" last semester. I worked insanely hard. Now I'm taking precalc/trig. So far we are just doing review with a few new elements. I got an 85% on my last test which is alright, but I know where I went wrong.

    I just wanted to thank everyone for their encouragement and support. I'm so much more confident in my math now.
  12. Feb 12, 2013 #11
    Wow, just found this thread. Congratulations!

    It's unfortunate that many times the biggest hindrance to success is one's parents.

    I think it's great to focus on math, even if your eventual goal is something else. The reason people do poorly at math is often that they are forced to take it as some auxiliary class for some other course of study, and so they put minimal time into it, and they don't take time to understand/work at it, and kind of resent it.

    But focusing on math for awhile will work. I believe math makes you smarter. Get through math and you can do pretty much anything. Maybe you'll forget about computers and want to become a mathematician. Don't laugh!

    -Dave K
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