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Would this course schedule result in low grades?

  1. Jul 1, 2015 #1
    I am finishing my requirements for transfer at the local cc to a university as a math major.

    My course schedule for fall.

    Calculus 3 (Multi Variable)
    PHYSICS 102 (electricity and magnetism/ freshman EM ?)
    Intro Differential Equations.

    The problems is that the two 2 teachers for Calculus 3 and Physics, are preaty hard, that's why I chose them. I learn alot with them.

    Now, my major concern is is the intro o.d.e course. The instructor is extremely lazy, is never around office hours, skips sections (you are tested on sections he skips). Preaty lousy guy overall and has preferred treatment for a certain group of people.

    He is the only one that teaches this course at my cc.

    Would it be too much time to learn O.D.E on my own, without anyone's help (there is no tutoring at my school for classes above cal 2), no instructor help, while also taking challenging professors and trying to get an A?

    My integration skills are great. I have not reviewed series since the end of my cal 2 course 1 year ago.
    I can rush review 5 weeks. (Taking a biology 5 week course in the second part of summer session).
    I am currently reviewing Calculus material. I got to beginning of cal 2.

    Do I need Calculus 3 to do well in O.D.E? Kind of worried because this instructor is not so great as mentioned previously. I will be working 6 hours a week and volunteering about 10 maybe 12 hours a week. However, I have no car, so at least 2 hour and half is going to spent on the bus commute.

    I am on track to transfer. I have until next spring semester to finish everything. So it preaty much comes downs do I want to finish in the winter or spring.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2015 #2
    You don't need calc 3 to do well in differential equations. It is too bad that the differential equations teacher is so poor. Have you considered taking differential equations at another school - perhaps over the summer? In any case, if you have the time, I would try to get the relevant textbooks ahead of time and take time this summer to get a jump on these courses. Anytime you can preview material prior to walking into a lecture on the material, it would be really helpful to do so. Prepare for these courses this summer as if you were the one to teach them in the Fall.

    While you are at it, it may be helpful to study some linear algebra this summer too. Understanding linear algebra really helps in understanding differential equations.
  4. Jul 1, 2015 #3


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    Calc III and introductory differential equations are fairly independent of one another. There are concepts from calc III used in an introductory differential equations class, but not to any great extent. The bits of partial derivatives that are relevant to ODEs can be learned in a few minutes.

    That schedule looks fine to me. You'll spend a good amount of time studying, but it shouldn't be overwhelming by any means.
  5. Jul 1, 2015 #4


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    It's usually not the course load that leads to low grades.

    You've listed three courses that are fairly standard for a first/second year undergraduate student. In my experience a typical semester for an undergraduate would include these course plus two more and there would be time for a part-time job or a volunteer position, and constructive down time including exercise. The commitment itself would not be reason for someone's grades to suffer. The time issue negatively affects one's grades when:
    - one overloads
    - one is not properly organizing one's time
    - other life commitments interfere with schooling (a "typical" undergraduate for example, does not have a family to support)
    - health issues or learning disabilities are not accounted for
    - the work-play balance leans a little too far to the play side of the spectrum.

    The other issue is that you really seem to have a negative opinion of this one professor. Is this based on personal experience or hearsay (for example, website ratings)? This is an important distinction to be aware of because there are a lot of cases where a vocal minority can really influence perception of a professor who is really not that bad. I've had a few professors who others didn't really like (and were quite vocal about it), but who I thought did a fine job. On the other hand, if you know for a fact that you're unlikely to do well under a specific professor, then it might be a good idea to look elsewhere to take the course. An introduction to differential equations course is fairly common, and so it shouldn't be too hard to find it elsewhere.
  6. Jul 1, 2015 #5
    Thanks for the fast response. No it is not possible. The teacher teaches at both of the community colleges near me -_-. Yes, I have a 3 differential books including the one required for class. I have simmons and ross sherpley.

    The one we are using for ode at my school is Larson, not a big fan of larson(watered down books, at least for his remedial math calculus books). I liked sherpley skimmed the book for a week.

    I can borrow a copy of Morris Tenenbaum ode book. Not sure which book is considered better. Any familiarity with these books or ones you recommend?

    Yes, I have linear algebra completed. Received a B, it was proof oriented. Since the demand for classes in the stem field is low, the community colleges do not offer anything above calculus 1 in the short semester. Sometimes people get lucky and get calculus 2.

    So should I jump the gun and take this schedule in the fall?
  7. Jul 1, 2015 #6
    I had him for pre calculus. So I know from first hand experience. Wouldn't be to hard if there was tutoring incase I needed it.However there is none for classes above calculus 2. I am on my own and cant afford a personal tutor. Not a problem i would just have to take more time learning it. I just dont want to end up with all C's because all my time is spent the ode course.
    I ussually self learn and ask questions during office/Lecture.

    You cannot ask questions in lecture. Once he fills the chalkboard up, he walks out.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2015
  8. Jul 1, 2015 #7
    I managed to get a B in linear algebra myself - without actually learning the main concepts of linear algebra! I'm not saying that's what you did, but the key is to be familiar with vector spaces, span, linear independence, basis functions, orthogonality, inner products, eigenvectors, eigenvalues, linear transformations, linear operators, etc. Many differential equations can be described as linear operators acting on a function. Understanding this can be helpful in differential equations.
  9. Jul 1, 2015 #8
    Oh, ODE is absolutely a trivial class. There are very little concepts involved, there are just tricks and computations. Most ODE classes just introduce various recipes to solve equations. It's absolutely boring. Some classes introduce some theory, but it's never very involved. An ODE class is perfect for self-study, there are no hard concepts like integrals or derivatives.

    If you're going to self-study, then you should absolutely try Ross: https://www.amazon.com/Differential-Equations-Shepley-L-Ross/dp/0471032948/ This book is absolutely brilliant. One of my favorite math books, and not because it's very theoretical like Spivak (it isn't, it's actually very applied), but because the exposition makes things so wonderfully clear. Ross has two books "Introduction to differential equations" and "Differential equations". The Introduction book is just the first part of the differential equations book. So the differential equations book contains more material, mostly theory with proofs, while the introduction proofs should have very little proofs. I prefer the differential equations book of course.
  10. Jul 1, 2015 #9
    Thanks Micromass. I'm gona take it.

    I own that book but the introduction and I like it so far by taking glimpse into it. Would you recommend I buy the expanded version? Or would a differnt book for a second course be better?
  11. Jul 1, 2015 #10
    In my opinion, the expanded version is where all the fun is in the book! A lot of books cover what he covers in the expanded version, but I still like his approach best. It's the perfect set-up for a analysis-type book on differential equations or even Arnold. So yes, if you like the first part of the book, then I suggest buying the expanded version.
  12. Jul 1, 2015 #11


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    Agreed. ODEs, especially at the level that would be typical of a community college ODE course, really isn't going to be conceptually difficult. It's a very formulaic, 'cookbook' type of class. It can of course be difficult at times, but it's mostly a matter of following a standard procedure. A physics professor once gave me some excellent advice: "The best way to solve a differential equation is to write down the solution."

    I'm completing dual degrees in physics and math. The physics major part of me agrees completely. The math major part of me...perhaps not so much. But actually solving most differential equations isn't an overly exciting process. The way I see it, one should solve a given type of differential equation the first time one encounters it, but once one has solved it, there is really no need to solve it again. Most differential equations have fairly standard types of solutions.

    And I think I'm wandering away from the topic at hand now.
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