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Should i retake calculus

  1. Mar 13, 2012 #1
    I graduated college with a bachelor of arts in political science in 2001. [Texas A&M]My gpa was a 3.5 and I managed to graduate in 2 1/2 years. I was set on going to law school but instead have been teaching for a while.

    I earned college calculus credit when I was in high school. I did not have to take any math in college since I already had the necessary credits. Now I have been admitted to engineering school. Should I retake Calculus I? I'm not sure if I remember all that stuff.

    Your advice is greatly appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 13, 2012 #2
    Yeah, you should.

    High school calculus is not college calculus coupled with the long break. It's worth retaking (unless you are willing to self study a lot before hand).
  4. Mar 13, 2012 #3
    Thanks! Yea it has been a while since I took that class. I know it was just high school but I actually earned "Most Outstanding Calculus Award" that year in my class.

    Maybe I should have done engineering all along. : ) Instead I got a bachelor of arts in political science. Work was super easy and I got a 4.0 in my major.
  5. Mar 13, 2012 #4
    Yes, you should probably also get a copy of this. Especially if you intend on going into like Calculus 2 or 3 later on. Extremely helpful book.
  6. Mar 13, 2012 #5
    Thanks Math Warrior! Do any of you practice engineering?
  7. Mar 14, 2012 #6
    Retake it and don't blow it off. It's easy to think that the class is worthless and that you won't learn anything, but even if you took the class last semester you would still have forgotten a lot of the nuances of the subject. You took it last decade. I'll be surprised if you can do anything more than basic differentiation at this point.

    Don't know if you really care, but I'm in engineering school myself - at UT ^_^
  8. Mar 14, 2012 #7
    Go Aggies!! lol j/k. that is a really good school. What type of engineering program are you in?
  9. Mar 14, 2012 #8
    Aerospace. We make fun of Aggies all the time :D Aggie machinists are the reason why I have to calculate misfit strain!
  10. Mar 14, 2012 #9
    lol i see you got a sense of humor.

    I'm now at UH. Cougar town. Lots of hot cougar women too! Anyway, do you know much about Petroleum E? How did you decide that you wanted to do AE?
  11. Mar 14, 2012 #10
    I had about a 10 year break between Calc I/II (credit from high school) and Calc III - I did an honest self-assessment using Calc for Dummies & Shaum's Calc and chose not to take 'refresher course' (don't joke - for a refresher I found the book to work amazing, however, I wouldn't suggest it as a 'first look'). I spent about 100 hours over the course of 2 months catching up and have gotten an A in Calc III and DiffEq since. I definately wouldn't suggest going into Calc II 'cold' but if you're willing to put in the time and honestly evaluate yourself, I am proof that it can be done.

    I actually found that my knowledge of Trig identities was more rusty than my Calculus, but I do feel that I have a superior grasp on calculus's application compared to many of my class mates because of my forced self-study. Also, depending on how 'technology integrated' your school is - you may have to learn a computer-algebra-system (Maple, Matlab, Mathmatica, etc) which other students will be a little ahead on.
  12. Mar 14, 2012 #11
    I know petroleum has great job prospects, particularly as domestic oil drilling is expanded. I know there will be a need for engineers who can help develop fracking processes. I know it pays significantly more than any other engineering discipline. I know that it's a very divisive field, at least compared to other engineering disciplines - some people will respect you, some people will revile you, and some will have a mix of both.

    I decided I wanted to do aerospace because I couldn't imagine myself doing anything else. I want to be the guy who helps launch another guy to Mars, or helps launch the eventual successor to the James Webb 'scope, or helps launch the first interplanetary probe. There's a certain majesty to flight that I find intellectually stimulating, and which I find that most people don't fully understand. Guys like David Gilmour get it (listen to Learning To Fly).

    And being able to say "Hi, I'm a rocket scientist" will get you laid more than saying "Heyyy, I drill for a living" :D
  13. Mar 14, 2012 #12
    lol i never thought about it in terms of getting laid. may have to reconsider my career : )

    It sounds like you definitely know what you want to do. I'm sure you will do great. I'm still undecided. I'm currently a teacher making 55k a year. This is a good salary if you are single and want to travel and get laid often. I have done my share of that lol but now I want to go back to school before I have any kids and/or get married.

    Two of my buddies from high school are engineer managers. One works for National Oilwell Varco and the other works for Schulumberger.
  14. Mar 16, 2012 #13
    I took the whole calculus sequence two years ago, and I already can barely remember things like implicit differentiation. If you don't use it, it's gone. Take it again, definitely. Another good resource is khanacademy.org. They have tutorial videos and practice quizzes.
  15. Mar 16, 2012 #14
  16. Mar 17, 2012 #15


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    Not that the particulars matter, but I took calc 2 and 3 at A&M in 02-03. I just returned to school at UH for Mechanical engineering and decided to retake calc 2 as prep for differential equations (engineering math) that I took last fall. It was definitely the right thing to do. Do you only have credit for calculus 1 (and nothing above)?

    A big motivator for retaking the math classes is that all of Calc 1-3 and some of the engineering math classes (select ODE and Linear Algebra) at UH take their tests at a testing center across the street (CASA). This means that tests are limited to 50 minutes, meaning that it's not only about being able to do the material, but being able to do it almost immediately as you don't have any time to waste. As stated, trig identities are a major thing that you'll need to review.

    Just to steady the boat a little bit, I'll say that petroleum isn't as significant a choice as has been stated in this thread. In the Houston area many different industries pay comparable/equivalent to oil and gas. I worked in the petrochemical/plastic industry for the past 5 years with mostly chemical and mechanical engineers. If you want to stay in Houston, all the competition drives salaries up. I would also say that job prospects will be better for mechanical, electrical, and chemical in this area than petroleum. My suggestion for those unsure is usually that it's easier to get into the industry with something like mechanical and work yourself into a certain position than to get a degree that potentially limits you like petroleum.

    Anyway, I'm a soph/junior at UH in Mechanical Engineering so if you want any specific advice just PM me because I'll forget all about this thread.
  17. Mar 17, 2012 #16
    Unless you remember how to derive and integrate, definitely re-take it. You won't regret re-taking it, but you could easily regret not re-taking it.
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