Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What next

  1. Sep 30, 2003 #1
    [SOLVED] what next


    First off I am a junior in high school, I am home schooled, and I have completed algebra 2. The author of the algebra 2 book liked to throw geometry and a little bit of trig in with the algebra so i have a relatively ok grasp on geometry and a basic understanding on trig. I have passed the point where my mom can help me with my math(she is smart enough to learn it with me but she has no time, 5 other kids she has to teach and my little brother has downsyndrome) and I am kinda at a loss as where to go next. I would like to just start going to the community college full time next semester (I already take part time, field biology, and computer literacy[god that class is boring]) but my mom wants me to finish up some high school stuff first.
    She also says that I would get more out of doing it myslef and that I could go at my own pace and get it done quicker if I wanted to. Basicall my question is where should I go from algebra 2, and should I do it at home or the community college? If I do it at home does someone what to sugguest a specific book that is pretty self expalintory. Oh yeah, I am doing physics right now and I am 3/4 done with it.

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 1, 2003 #2
    If you are comfortable in the algebra field, I would suggest you go for calculus and then later on geometry/discrete mathematics
  4. Oct 1, 2003 #3
    Do you think that I should do/would be able to do it myself or should I just take it at the community college?
  5. Oct 1, 2003 #4
    I say go with trig. there's a lot of trig stuff you can learn, and it'll make trig stuff in calc easier. you can study that on you're own, and it can go as fast or slow as you want it to. It's something you can easily do at home, and i'd bet that no matter what book you got it'd probably be ok. you could probably go straight to calc, but you'll probably have to learn more trig along the way anyways, it might just be easier if you learn trig formally first, especially if you won't have a teacher around in calc. trig can be confusing when you're trying to deal with other things too. but good luck either way.
  6. Oct 1, 2003 #5
    Thanks, does anyone want to disagree with gale17 or should I go with trig? And I know if I have any problems I know all of you will help me, right.
  7. Oct 1, 2003 #6
    Also if I do it myself I can start now and I won't have to wait for next semester(january), and I really don't want to do that.
  8. Oct 2, 2003 #7

    I'm getting my master's in math and a teaching certificate. That is to say, I know the subject. But I don't know you.
    If you want to take things slowly, if you want to spend a lot of time getting on intimate terms with trig, go ahead.
    However, my feeling is that a little trig goes a long way. If you can handle some basic story problems, can derive one trig identity from another, and can convert back and forth from rectangular to polar coordinates, then that's probably enough trig. Go on to calculus. It's just as useful as trig (probably more) and alot more exciting. When doing calc, pay particular attention to doing story problems using differentials, they're fun and useful (it's like doing ratios, only the ratio continuously changes). Learn derivatives, then move on to integrals. As you study integrals, you will often learn new derivative techniques along the way. My philosophy on self-education is - keep moving forward, and pick up anything you skipped as you need it. Kind of the converse is I also believe that you should learn the basics very well before you move on. Just use your intuition - if it's totally new and/or exciting, spend time on it; if you can kind of see where it's going, spend a little time learning it then move on and come back and learn it better when you need it for a specific application. Oh, one other part of my philosophy: if you want to remember what you learned in a math class, take two classes beyond it, then you'll have plenty of practice using what you learned in the first class. One last thing: practice is SO important in calculus, do more homework than is assigned, then the tests will be easy.
    But, as I said, the decision is yours. Some story problems in trig are also pretty exciting.
    Hope this helps, but as I said it is only my opinion.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2003
  9. Oct 2, 2003 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Before you go ahaid and drop the cash for the calculus course, go talk to some professors and ask them for syllabi. See how much you know based on what is listed.

    From my coursework, there was another course simply called 'pre-calculus' which came before calculus but after algebra. It mainly covered functions. IIRC, it had a little bit of trig and other useful topics as well.

    Whether or not you should take trig depends a little on what you want to do. If you want to be a math (physics also, probably) major, then I would take the class. If you're leaning more towards engineering, then the trig may not be necessary. I'm in my senior year now, and there are very few (can count on one hand) trig identities which are needed on a regular basis, and any which are more complex can always be looked up if they aren't covered in the presentation of the relevant topic.

    Again, based on the CC you're going to, your mileage may vary, so talk to the professors and find out what they recommend.
  10. Oct 2, 2003 #9


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Ugh... this is the classic home-school horror story. Try to get into college courses as fast as you possibly can, and never look back. No offense, but I hope your mom hasn't stunted your educational development too much yet.

    - Warren
  11. Oct 2, 2003 #10
    I disagree, homeschooling is an excellent idea IF the student and/or the parent is committed to learning to or beyond the level taught in most schools. This sounds like it's the case here. Most of my math ed. before calc was done outside of school (I went to school, but I read stuff long before it was covered). I think the best part of teaching yourself is you can go deeper into subjects, rather than being rushed through them by a teacher who often lacks interest in teaching thoroughly. Here's a project: ask any ten adults (off campus who aren't math teachers) to add 1/5 and 1/7. Adding fractions is something that "falls through the cracks" in the education of most people, and yet dealing with fractions has many advantages over decimals. Just keep teaching yourself, but make sure you have some feedback from someone who can judge how good your curriculum is. Just some friendly advice.
  12. Oct 2, 2003 #11
    Actually I think that my mom has done a real good job up to this point. She taught me algebra II, physics, and almost everything else I know. She could learn the concepts and then teach them to me if I really wanted to, but the time that she would have to put into it is just way to much of me to ask of her at this point. She dosen't have enough time as it is.
    In some cases you are right though, if the parents doing the home-schooling arent very bright, the kid is going to suffer in the long run. I have home-schooled friends that are dumber than a box of rocks, and some that are pretty bright, it is mainly because of the parents and how much time and effort they want to put into teaching their kids.
    The other side of the spectrum is the public shcool system. I am friends with this one kid who is a freshman in school and is taking algebra. The first day they gave the kids a multiplication table, not to memorize mind you, but so they wouldn't have to memorize it. Also they were told that they could use the tables on tests. Something my mom would never have let us do.

    I learned story problems and how to convert from rectangular to polar coordinates in my algebra II. But I am not sure what deriving one trig identity from anoter is. What I am saying is that I might know how to do it but I don't know what it is called. If you could post an example that would be great.

    I was leaning more towards engineering but I have not completey made up my mind. The way I look at is that if I change and would rather be a math major I could go back and take trig.

    I plan on talking to a councelor out at the communtiy college and see if he thinks I am ready to take Calculus, and if he does then I will take the math placement test. Hopefully I will do well enough in the test that I can take Calculus without taking other classes.

    I would like to say thank you for all the imput I have gotten from you guys. This is the first online forum I have participated in that I can ask questions in and not get bashed and told im stupid because I am asking questions.

    Thank you
  13. Oct 2, 2003 #12


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Identities are things like

    cos2(theta) + sin2(theta) = 1


    sin(theta + phi) = sin(theta)*cos(phi) - cos(theta)*sin(phi)

    there are tons more. Many of them can be derived from each other.

    Then this is the only forum you need!

    PF... your healthy internet addiction.
  14. Oct 3, 2003 #13
    i must say, this is sooooo fun [zz)] [zz)]
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook