## Brent0423 3 years ago Do I still have any hope to become an astronomer?

1. Brent0423

I am a freshmen at a college that has a phenomenal astronomy and physics program. I started out in calculus this year and there was a 4 week one credit course that decided whether you continue on to "real calculus" turns out I failed the Exam so I had to go back to precalc. I did phenomenal on precalc in high school but at the university i got a horrible teacher who wouldn't even let me use a calculator on the tests so I took the first two tests and failed them both due to the fact that my teacher gave absolutely ridiculous tests and made us graph very complex logarithmic expressions BY HAND. I ended up dropping the course with a W. I am really discouraged but don't wanna give up hope, i have the potential to take calculus next semester do I have any hope??

2. Algebraic!

read the chapter twice before going to the lecture on the chapter. that's really all it takes; seems like a lot of effort at first but it ends up saving you time in the long run, because you finish your homework quickly and you don't have to study much for tests.

3. Study23

In the words of Thomas A. Edison, "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time".

4. Brent0423

I can't afford to do poorly in another math class though :( Would you say that calculus is much more difficult then precalculus?

5. Brent0423

Wow what a phenomenal quote!

6. Study23

@Brent0423 :)

7. Brent0423

is it more difficult?

8. Study23

@Brent0423 I am taking calculus for the first time right now. What I can say having taken Precalc last year, is that the level of difficulty one could argue, is relative. Calculus builds upon precalculus, where as precalculus introduces and is the foundation for modern calculus.

9. zepdrix

Yah I feel that, a bad teacher can really bring yer spirits down. :( More difficult? I definitely think so. It's been so long that I can hardly remember Pre-Calc. But I remember learning a lot of basic things - exponents/logarithms, matrices, graphing transformations and such, introduction to limits.. In Calculus you really build on a ton of stuff you've learned from Algebra, Trig, Pre-Calc. There are so many little math tricks that you need to remember. And then on top of that, trying to intuitively understand derivatives took a long time for me, I was glad I got started on them long before I ever took a class on Calculus. Honestly, my feeling is, if you can get past the first 2 tests in Calc1, it's smooth sailing from there. Limits really test your ability to do mathemagic. And working with the limit definition of the derivative is just so painful! :d You certainly shouldn't give up though :D Study some stuff related to derivatives before you take it again. Make sure you can burn through the product rule, quotient rule, chain rule like butter, so you have ample time to focus on the harder stuff.

10. zepdrix

It's possible that you're starting to see your limitations in math. But I highly doubt that. I think it was a combination of bad teaching and being somewhat under prepared for a challenging new topic. :D

11. Brent0423

@zepdrix Thank you so much for the advice I really appreciate it. I have already started learning some calculus using khan academy so i can perform the product and chain rule and its quite simple. Do you have any suggestions on how to prepare for this calculus class because I have to do well in it. I cannot afford to do poor, it will ruin my transcript 2 w's and an e would lo

12. Brent0423

look terrible*

13. zepdrix

Are you taking this in high school still? Or on the college level?

14. Brent0423

College

15. zepdrix

Make sure you look up teacher scores on RateMyProfessors.com or some similar site. Often times you'll find that 2 different teachers teach the same course but they teach it in very very different ways. I personally like taking difficult math teachers. I feel like I get a more comprehensive education. And that's important to me, because I want to major in something math related so I want a really strong foundation. If you're planning on majoring in something like Astronomy or Physics, I have a feeling that your focus will be more on the meat and potatoes of how things work, and less on proofs and long drawn out math equations. So it would definitely be worth your time to take an easier professor who teaches you all the shortcuts and simplifies things nicely. I'm currently taking a Physics with Calculus course. It hardly touches on Calculus at all though. Any time we've done derivatives or even integrals, they are ONLY involving the power rule.

16. Brent0423

Okay i will definitely look at ratemyprofessors.com before scheduling my next calc class so that I can find an easier professor. How do I go about preparing for calculus?

17. zepdrix

Have a really really comfortable relationship with the Difference Quotient and function notation. Master the chain rule, product rule and even a little bit quotient rule. Hmmm what else... You'll eventually be asked to graph somewhat difficult functions, without using a calculator. So get at least an introduction to what a critical point is. Because that section really has you slicing and dicing a function. You tear it apart, find the roots, the critical points, inflection points, figure out where it's increasing, decreasing, and then draw a rough sketch. There are just so many little things to get through, that if you have a rough idea before hand, I think it will really help. But I dunno... I would just focus on doing a bunch of fun derivatives in your free time XD Get the product rule, chain rule down pat. Then come class time, really focus on other stuff.. Blah I dunno!! :D

18. Brent0423

Ok ill definitely work on those! any helpful websites besides khan academy?

19. zepdrix

There are tons of very helpful videos on YouTube by users such as: KhanAcademy, IntegralCALC, PatrickJMT, MIT, ... This is my favorite website for practice problems for calculus. It's nothing fancy but it has a nice selection of calc problems that you'll deal with early on in the course. http://www.math.ucdavis.edu/~kouba/ProblemsList.html

20. Brent0423

okay that will definitely help! thanks :) and are limits really that difficult??

21. zepdrix

MeetYourBrain.com is a nice resource if they have your textbook. For example, I've been going through the Stewart 7th edition, there are a ton of video solutions to the problems on the site (6th edition, but most of them match up). (Although I think they recently switched to a pay site :( 1\$ a month, grumble grumble.)

22. zepdrix

Limits are pretty tricky. Derivatives, you look at them and go, "Ok I'll just take the derivative I guess..." Limits remind me of Integrals. Integration is the opposite of Differentiation, but it's not as straightforward as it sounds :P You have to have some idea of how to solve it. I guess though, for limits a lot of little tricks come up over and over again. Make sure you understand conjugates, you'll use that idea a lot :O in both directions, breaking squares into conjugates so you can cancel one of them out, example$\frac{ x-1 }{ x^2-1 }=\frac{ x-1 }{ (x-1)(x+1) }=\frac{ 1 }{ x+1 }$

23. Brent0423

theres a limit as x approaches -1 right?

24. zepdrix

? :o

25. zepdrix

There is not "a limit", that isn't really the correct way to say it heh. Taking a limit just means, let's get closer and closer to a certain point, without touching it, and see what happens.

26. zepdrix

In the example I gave, they might ask you, what is the limit as x approaches 1. Since there is a hole at 1, because x^2-1 gives us 0 in the denominator, we have to do some finagling to see what value the function is getting close to, without touching that hole.

27. zepdrix

Blah ok I'm going to bed XD gotta get up for school in the mownin! Good luck with the schoolin Brent!! \:D/ You can do it!