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Student at a community college in Florida

  1. Apr 28, 2008 #1
    Hi i'm a 19 year old student at a community college in Florida.
    Doring my high school years, making the grade was all it mattered. Cheating on tests and homework was a constant happening. So as you can infer my whole 4 years in high school i prevented my self from learning, and my mathematics were not the exception. I camed to College with the same attitude as in high school, and all i received was a slap in the face. i seen how most of the people had different attitudes tours learning most of them cared about learning. Well my goal was to make the grade in college just like in high school which i berely made a 2.4 Gpa back there. I found out that was not possible any more. My other goal was to major in a easy but well paid career and clearly away from mathematics since i really hated them, but in the back of my mind i wanted to do something out of the usual, i was thirst for knowledge and i didn't wanted to realize it. Thats when i started to level the careers and decided that my passion is working outdoors or in a laboratory, away from desks and paperwork. I added my experience of working with concrete and construction, and CIVIl Engineer showed up. I was discouraged by some since math was my weakest point i started taking basic Algebra 2 and now i'm about to finish College Algebra and next semester i'm taking Precaculus. But to get where i'm i had to take college algebra twice. and gone through a lot of research about the carrer i want to persue. Not that i'm already an expert in math but at least i'm not close minded like before. I know if not all, most of the engineers are good in math since high school but all i have to say is i'm going to be the exception. After majoring in C.E i want to continue with M.E and then Physics. O and as u may already have infer Math is my favorite subject now even though i still have some trouble understanding the basics, but math is like my center for knowledge.



    Not that i dont knw the answer to it (yes) but since i have receive so much negative feedback from people i wanted to hear some from the professionals!!!

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 28, 2008 #2
    I'm sure most of the Professionals will give you great advice on how to approach your goal. I would also advice you to start looking into books that you can also self study some of the topics from. If you have a bit of problems with some basics (which isn't a major problem really - but just to understand more easily), then those self study books would come in handy as they due tend to make the concepts a little bit more easy to understand.

    I am sure you will make it, with a little bit of push and a lot of sweat like everyone else.

    Good Luck by the way.
  4. Apr 29, 2008 #3
    1-No it is not possible for someone who has an extremely poor math background to be a successful engineer. With that said, hopefully by the time you are an engineer, you'll have a good math background. You'll be amazed at what you know by the end of your studies, if you work hard.

    2-Sure you have a chance, but you have to acknowledge that you are going to stay in school longer than most of your peers. If I am not mistaken, you really cannot start many engineering courses until you have at least calculus and or physics. It'll be tough work, so make sure you stay motivated.
  5. Apr 29, 2008 #4
    Thax biocore, for your motivational help.
  6. Apr 29, 2008 #5


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    From this response it seems like all you want is someone to say "yes, you can do it.. don't worry." However, it is not possible for you to achieve your goal without a huge amount of work. Of course, there is a difference between doing badly in a course, and actually being bad at the material, but I would suggest possibly re-examining your goals of becoming a physicist or engineer if you had so much trouble with college algebra that you had to take the course at least twice.

    Not that I'm trying to put you off, but there is no point in setting goals that one has no hope of reaching.
  7. Apr 29, 2008 #6
    Thanx poweriso.

    But i really dont understand your answer "No it is not possible for someone who has an extremely poor math background to be a successful engineer." Of course no one will make it even to calculus with a poor math background. What i'm saying is that it is possible to be an engineer with a poor math background in your past, meaning that is let behind. Also meaning that you dont have to love math since you are 3 or since high school to be later discover your love for math and persuit, also meaning that never is too late.

    Also meaning if you are an engineer, which i'm not sure u are, or someone involve in science, should be encouraging others to follow that path or at least the ones who love it
    like me. We all know the thirst for knowledge among high school students has been reducing overtime and specially on topics such as science and math. So why not motivating them. I'm not asking you to lie, we all know that with dedication and hard work everything is possible. Someone who hated fractions and factoring 2 yrs ago may turn into someone who may teach calculus at a college level or lead a deep research on quantum and nuclear physics later. I know those people with poor math backgrounds who want to be a math or enginner major know is a longer way than those who were wise to use their high school years wisely. But ALL i'm asking is some motivation, not only for me but for many others. Because there are many like me and need that extra motivation from people who really know the stuff.

    Thanx again poweriso
  8. Apr 29, 2008 #7
    all i'm saying is that is possible to turn someone with a poor math background into someone with a rich math background.

    I was a 3 in math now i'm a solid 7.

    You can take it as you want it.

    All i ask is encouragement for students like me who want to meet a goal and that poor math background phantom still follow us sometimes.

    But i guess is better for u since the demand for engineers is high.
  9. Apr 29, 2008 #8
    There is a difference between "having a poor math background" and "had a poor math background."

    My answer basically remains the same. However, to make myself more clear. Your background in mathematics will have to change, but it can be done. The real question isn't, "can it be done?" but rather, "can you do it?" I don't know, I don't know you.

    If you struggle at algebra, calculus is going to be difficult simply because the things you were tested over in algebra will become things you should be able to do with relative ease. I go by the motto that you should be reasonable yet have high goals. You don't want your goals to be beyond your current ability, but you also don't want to cut yourself short.

    The point being is that it's important for you to work on the fundamentals. Don't think about engineering, until you have a solid math background or you are setting yourself up for failure. Once you overcome your difficulties, you then should start thinking about engineering again.
  10. Apr 29, 2008 #9
    I failed high school algebra, as well as a high school computer programming class. I barely graduated high school, with a 2.0 GPA.

    Now I'm almost graduated with a math degree, and I have a 3.6 GPA. In fact, I do better in my physics and math classes than some people who were in the top ten percent in high school.

    I got into a college precalc class when I was a 19 (or 20?) year-old Sophmore and started working my *** off. I got in the A in the class, and calculus just came naturally at that point. Of course, more advanced topics in junior/senior classes remain challenging to me, but I hold my own. In fact, I think the more advanced classes caught my off guard after I was finished with calculus, so I had a couple "bad" semesters (and by "bad," I mean my worst was straight B's), as I guess I was expecting them to be as easy as calculus, but then I buckled down even tighter and started getting A's again. Don't make that same mistake I did!

    So yes, I think it's possible.

    I'm not sure whether mathematical ability is innate or is a skill anyone can acquire. Perhaps it is a combination of both: anyone (or most people) can do it, but it just comes easier to some than it does to others. Me, I have a mediocre IQ of 107, but I learn math faster than most people. I speculate that that is because I know how to ask (myself) the right questions, and generally when I don't understand something, I at least understand my misunderstanding very well. If that makes any sense. At the very least, don't trick yourself into thinking you get it (which I see other people do all of the time).

    Half of the battle, I think, is to not be intimidated by new concepts in mathematics. Don't be intimidated by sine and cosine when you first see them. Don't be intimidated by limits or derivatives or integrals or cross products or complex numbers or eigenvalues or anything like that. I think on a few occasions I've subconsciously thought "I could never understand this!" but then, after buckling down, focusing, figuring out what it is I don't know and asking the right questions, I found that it came quite easily. And the more you find that things come easily, the more confident you become. But don't become overconfident! I've made that mistake, and it's a mistake that cost me a 4.0. And I always like to say, learn from your mistakes, sure, but more importantly, learn from other people's mistakes so that you don't have to make them yourself.

    Hope this is helpful.
  11. Apr 29, 2008 #10
    OHHHH my mistake poweriso i didn't make my self clear!!!!!

    Thanx what you have said is very true, and yes i'm trying to polish my math skills.
    Now i'm on the point that i dont fear calculus at all and feel confident about my math.
    And how i learne it. I learn math pretty easy now all i need is to practice enough since i didn't did at all this semester but i was able to retain a 50% of what was taught in Algebra. That mistake is not going to hapen any more, but the other percenage i'm going to catch up in the summer.
  12. Apr 29, 2008 #11
    I think you can do it if your are willing to work at it. I didn't even take algebra in high school. I took introductory algebra last spring and now I'm taking my calculus I finals tomorrow. I've worked hard to get to this point because I never was good at math. I feel I'm pretty good now - due to hard work.
  13. Apr 29, 2008 #12
    Thanx MATHMANIAC, I'AM in a very similar case and is great to know someone went through what i went and now loves math. Hope your case goes to the ears of those in similar situations so others won't feel dissapointed. I really dont care what people say i know that i can do it, its just that i wanted an opinion from those who breath and eat math, but all the positive feedbacks are welcome. When i get my C.E major i will dedicate much of my time to promote learning.
  14. Apr 29, 2008 #13
    THanxxxxxxx Steve...But how did you jump from algebra to calculus in less than a year?
  15. Apr 30, 2008 #14
    The class I took in the spring last year was pretty much algebra I. In the summer I took what would've been algebra II. In the fall I took college algebra and trig and this semester calculus I. I'm taking calc II this fall. You can do it with enough determination, I'm 37 and I graduated high school in '89.
  16. May 4, 2008 #15
    But just because you want to do better @ math don't forget about English!!
  17. May 4, 2008 #16

    yeah i have a strong background in english or i understande it easier then math so yeah just because i want to do better in math i shouldn't drop the the guard in the other subjects.

    Thanx and good advice!!!
  18. May 4, 2008 #17
    Ahh the irony..
  19. May 4, 2008 #18
    Whats your point?
  20. May 4, 2008 #19
    I think what these two are trying to get at is that it is also important to work on your writing if you expect to become a successful engineer. Communication skills can be just as important as your engineering skills (if not more) if you are looking to advance. Writing well is a skill that should be practice.
  21. May 4, 2008 #20
    In elementary school I was always getting C's and D's math. By the time I graduated high school I was getting A's in everything, all the way through calculus. Things change.
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